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2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe ReviewThe Good
The 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe receives only a few minor updates for its second year of production, but continues to dash from 0-60 in under 4 seconds thanks to its 556-hp, supercharged 6.2-liter V8, borrowed from the Corvette ZR1.The Bad
Poor fuel economy numbers remain an issue with the high-performance 2012 CTS-V Coupe, as do its tight rear seat and limited visibility out the back.
The CarGurus View
To be honest, no one purchases the CTS-V for its interior space, cargo capacity, fuel economy numbers or even its good looks. They buy it because of its high-performance V8 engine, which doesn't disappoint. Owners are greatly impressed by the amount of power the V8 provides for the price tag and favorably compare the 2012 CTS-V to the world's top sport coupes. While the CTS-V doesn't achieve greatness in every category, when it comes to performance, there are few vehicles available that can match it, making it a rarefied sport coupe for owners who seek the ultimate ride.
At a Glance
You could think of the 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe as simply a monster engine on wheels. Despite the sport coupe's attractive exterior styling, responsive handling and well-equipped interior, the vehicle's focal point remains its beefy 6.2-liter, 556-hp supercharged V8 engine. Everything else, in many ways, is somewhat superfluous. For instance, if you like the CTS-V Coupe's exterior styling or its upscale cabin, you could opt for the standard CTS Coupe and save yourself tens of thousands of dollars. Of course, if you're thinking of buying a competitive vehicle that offers the same horsepower as the CTS-V Coupe, you could spend an additional tens of thousands of dollars. Everything's relative, of course, but over-the-top power at a reasonable price point remains the CTS-V Coupe's main calling card.
To sweeten the pie, Cadillac naturally throws in a lot of other upscale and performance-oriented features that make the CTS-V Coupe worthy of its MSRP. HID adaptive headlights, Magnetic Ride Control, Brembo brakes, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a 10-speaker Bose audio system are all standard features for the CTS-V Coupe's single 6.2L trim.
After making its debut in 2011, the CTS-V Coupe gets only a few minor updates for 2012, including a new side blind-zone alert system and new Black Diamond Tricoat and Opulent Blue Metallic exterior colors. Inside, the CTS-V Coupe seats 4 passengers in a 2+2 arrangement, while outside it continues to display an angular, muscular appearance, highlighted by a unique dihedral grille designed to direct airflow into the engine compartment, and a raised hood that accommodates the V8's supercharger. The CTS-V Coupe sits about 2 inches lower than the CTS-V Sedan upon which it is based, and measures about 2 inches shorter, although it rides on the same platform. The front windshield and backglass are more steeply raked than on the Sedan, and the CTS-V Coupe displays unique front and rear fascias as well. In addition, it comes equipped with keyless, flush-mounted door handles with touch-pad operation. Rainsense wipers, daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, vertical LED taillights and dual exhaust pipes exiting through a single center-mounted chromed exhaust outlet are among the CTS-V Coupe's other exterior features.
While critics remain thoroughly impressed by the power and performance offered by the Coupe's big V8, which drives the vehicle from 0-60 in just 3.9 seconds, they're less complimentary of the Coupe's other features, including its tight cabin, cramped rear seat, small trunk and visibility problems out the back. Features like a rear-view camera and the new side blind-zone alert system help with the visibility factor, but it's no secret the CTS-V Coupe largely fails as a family hauler. Of course, that's not its purpose. Instead, the CTS-V Coupe represents Cadillac's response to such world-class sport coupes as the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, the Porsche 911, the Audio RS6 Coupe, the Jaguar XKR Coupe and the BMW M3 and M6 Coupes. That's a formidable lineup of high-performance sports cars, and although some competitive vehicles may provide better performance, tighter handling and more functional interiors than the CTS-V Coupe, owners and critics agree that when it comes to price and overall value, the CTS-V Coupe remains hard to beat in its market segment.
A single, well-reviewed engine drives the 2012 CTS-V Coupe. The supercharged 6.2-liter overhead-valve LSA V8, based on an engine borrowed from the Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1, holds the distinction as the most powerful engine in Cadillac's fleet. It generates an impressive 556 hp and an equally eye-popping 551 lb-ft of torque. The V8 features an Eaton Twin Vortices Series intercooled supercharger with twin 4-lobe rotors, which combine with unique air inlet and outlet ports to improve airflow to the engine, resulting in greater efficiency and smoother performance. The supercharger also creates a distinctive engine note.
Cadillac pairs the V8 with either a 6-speed Tremec TR6060 manual transmission with a dual-disc clutch, or a 6-speed Hydra-Matic 6L90 automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode and steering-wheel-mounted shift controls. The automatic also features Performance Algorithm Shifting, which provides a performance-oriented shift pattern when pushing the vehicle during high-performance maneuvers. Naturally with the big V8, fuel economy numbers suffer. When paired with the manual transmission, the V8 manages 14 mpg city/19 highway. Those numbers drop to 12/18 mpg with the automatic. The rear-wheel-drive CTS-V requires premium fuel.
There's no doubt the V8 packs plenty of punch for a spirited driving experience, but testers also say the big engine behaves very well around town, with smooth operation and quiet performance. Some reviewers even report it feels like a regular midsize coupe during daily commutes, but step down on the pedal and the V8 springs to life, providing a quick build-up of power that rivals just about anything else on the road today.
Ride & Handling
A high-powered sports coupe with a 556-hp V8 engine requires a unique suspension, and Cadillac complies, outfitting the CTS-V with Magnetic Ride Control, which it calls "the world’s fastest-reacting suspension technology." Instead of using mechanical valves, the CTS-V's shocks are controlled by advanced magneto-rheological technology, which speeds up response time and improves precision, according to the automaker. Sensors located at all four wheels evaluate road inputs every millisecond and make damping adjustments to carefully control the CTS-V's ride. The system includes Tour and Sport driver-selectable modes, with the Tour setting designed for everyday around-town driving and the stiffer Sport setting for more aggressive handling.
According to reviewers, the Magnetic Ride Control system does a good job minimizing body lean and smoothing out rough road surfaces. It works in conjunction with the CTS-V's fully independent sport suspension, which was tuned at the Nurburgring race track in Germany. The suspension features a short-/long-arm configuration in the front and a multi-link arrangement in the rear, and includes a rear limited-slip differential. Variable-ratio ZF Servotronic power rack-and-pinion steering provides a precise, responsive feel, while oversized Brembo high-performance brakes deliver good stopping power. The brakes are slotted and vented to aid cooling and feature 6-piston calipers in the front and 4-piston calipers in the rear.
The 2012 CTS-V comes standard with 19-inch multi-coat painted wheels and performance tires. Owners can add available 19-inch high-polished wheels and eye-catching 19-inch Satin Graphite wheels.
Cabin & Comfort
Like the standard CTS Coupe, the CTS-V has a tight cabin, but it's well-equipped with a wide range of upscale features, including leather upholstery, 3-level heated front seats, interior ambient lighting and Obsidian Black accents on the center stack, console, steering wheel and door panels. A streamlined gauge package features large, bold displays designed for easy, at-a-glance reading, and the tachometer includes an LED tracer function that flashes when the V8 nears its red line. The instrument cluster also includes a G-Meter, which measures lateral acceleration and records lateral acceleration left and right. The thick performance steering wheel comes wrapped in leather, and the power telescopic steering wheel makes it easy to find a comfortable seating position.
The driver's seat features 10-way power adjustment with memory settings, while the passenger seat has 8-way power adjustment. Owners can opt for upgraded Recaro performance seats with 14-way power adjustment. Some reviewers find the standard seats a little too hard and unsupportive for longer trims, while the optional Recaro seats, with their side bolsters, might be a little too narrow for larger passengers. Most average-size adults will find adequate headroom and legroom in the front and back rows, although taller passengers will be cramped in back. In addition, adults will have to resort to some tricky maneuvering to simply get into the back seat. The trunk offers only 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space, and a tight trunk opening makes it difficult to load larger cargo, but the rear seatback splits and folds, which extends cargo space into the interior.
Such tech features as a rear-view camera, keyless entry and start, an ultrasonic rear park assist and a side blind-zone alert system, new for 2012, come standard on the CTS-V. Cadillac also includes a navigation system with an 8-inch glide-up touchscreen and a 10-speaker Bose 5.1 Surround Sound audio system with a CD/DVD player, a 40GB hard drive, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth, a USB port and an auxiliary input jack. Other standard features for the CTS-V include dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, cruise control and power windows and door locks. In addition, the standard OnStar system includes 1 year of the Directions & Connections plan, with turn-by-turn navigation and vehicle diagnostics. Options include heated and ventilated front seats, Midnight Sapele wood interior trim, sport alloy pedals, a power sunroof and a sueded steering wheel and shift knob.
Like Cadillac's other CTS vehicles, the 2012 CTS-V receives a top rating of Good from the IIHS for protecting passengers in all types of crashes. The NHTSA similarly awarded the CTS Coupe an overall top safety rating of 5 out of 5 stars. Cadillac equips the CTS-V with 6 airbags, including front seat-mounted and side-curtain airbags. Other standard safety features include GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, traction control and 4-wheel antilock brakes with hydraulic brake assist and engine control systems. In addition, the CTS-V's standard OnStar system includes such safety features as automatic crash response, roadside assistance, emergency services and crisis assist.
What Owners Think
Needless to say, owners primarily purchased the CTS-V for its powerful engine and stylish good looks, and in those areas, the V doesn't disappoint. Owners are overwhelmingly positive about the CTS-V's performance, and many say it's the best performance-oriented vehicle available from any domestic automaker. In addition, owners say the CTS-V rivals the Corvette in the performance department, yet it's wrapped in an attractive exterior design and comes equipped with a wide range of upscale features. A number of owners traded in BMWs for their high-performance Caddies and rarely regret their decision.
Owners like the fact their CTS-Vs provide comfortable transportation during weekday commutes but easily open up when unleashed on the open road. Owners also like the CTS-V's value, when compared to some of its competitors. Owners still have issues with the vehicle's fuel economy numbers, though for some it doesn't present much of an issue, and a few owners have complaints about the CTS-V's fit and finish. But the vast majority are very pleased with their purchases and say their vehicles rank among the best in the world.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.