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2013 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe Overview
The high-performance Cadillac CTS-V Coupe enters its third year of production with only minor updating. New features include a Glacier Blue Metallic exterior color and updated 2-piece front brake rotors, designed for lighter weight and longer life, thanks to their improved ability to dissipate heat. The CTV-Coupe remains otherwise unchanged for 2013.
The V8-powered CTS-V occupies rarified air in GM's lineup, competing in a top-of-the-line high-performance category populated by only a few distinctive V8-powered vehicles, including the BMW M5, the Audi S6, the Jaguar XJ, the Lexus IS F and the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan. All feature some type of twin-turbo or supercharged V8 engine, and all push horsepower into the stratosphere, in an era when automakers worldwide are generally downgrading V8s to lighter-weight, more powerful and more fuel-efficient V6s.
In head-to-head match-ups, the CTS-V doesn't always dominate its V8-powered competitors, but it definitely stays in the race, thanks in part to its beefy 6.2-liter, supercharged V8 engine, which is based on the engine that drives the Corvette ZR1. Certainly that's a powerful pedigree, and the big V8 doesn't disappoint, pumping out an impressive 556 hp and an equally poppy 551 lb-ft of torque. That makes it the most powerful engine in Cadillac's history, the automaker notes.
The V8 features an intercooled Eaton Twin Vortices Series supercharger with unique air inlet and outlet ports, as well as twin 4-lobe rotors, designed to optimize airflow to the engine, resulting in smooth, efficient operation. Cadillac also tuned the supercharger's noise and vibration levels to give the engine a unique sound and feel. The V8 mates to a short-throw 6-speed Tremec manual transmission, which comes standard, or an available 6-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Naturally, with the big V8, fuel economy numbers suffer. The V8 manages 14/19 mpg with the manual shifter and a fairly dismal 12/18 with the automatic. The gas-guzzler tax applies with both transmissions. Premium fuel is required.
The CTS-V sits on a rear-wheel-drive platform shared by all CTS incarnations. However, Cadillac adds a high-performance rear axle incorporating a limited-slip differential designed to appropriately channel the V8's powerful torque. The sport-tuned suspension includes Cadillac's Magnetic Ride Control, which uses upgraded shocks with magneto-rheological technology, as opposed to mechanical valves, to instantly adjust damping at all 4 wheels, ensuring an agile yet firmly planted ride. Cadillac also includes oversize Brembo brakes with red calipers and 19-inch multi-coat painted wheels with performance tires. ZF Servotronic speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering with variable ratio comes standard.
The result, reviewers say, is a comfortable yet highly competent ride, giving drivers the ability to whip the vehicle around tight corners on the weekends while cruising to work in relative refinement during the week. The CTS-V remains fairly well-tamed in stop-and-go traffic, but step down on the pedal and it leaps out aggressively, eating up the asphalt at a dizzying rate. Helping out with the vehicle's dual nature are two driver-selectable suspension modes, including a Tour mode for everyday driving and a Sport mode, which stiffens up the suspension for more aggressive driving.
Outside, the CTS-V displays a number of design elements that distinguish it from its CTS stablemates, including a unique black chrome mesh grille, a sculpted hood, HID headlights with an integrated washing system and functional fender-mounted air extractors, which funnel air to the engine compartment. The rear high-mounted center light doubles as a spoiler, and the center-mounted dual chrome-plated stainless-steel exhaust tips add to the visual flair. Other exterior features include front fog lights, Rainsense automatic wipers, heated exterior mirrors and vertical LED taillights.
The CTS-V's sporty yet elegant cabin features a dual-cockpit design, which places all controls within easy reach of the driver and passenger, who are separated by a swooping center console. Upscale features abound, although some testers say the luxury-oriented cabin doesn't quite match those offered by some competitors, such as the BMW M5. Distinctive instrumentation for the CTS-V includes a boost gauge and a g-force display, all designed to be easily readable. Leather seating surfaces with suede fabric inserts and trim with hand stitching add to the high-end feel. Heated front seats feature 10-way power adjustment and additional bolstering to keep the driver and front passenger in place during hard cornering. However, some testers found the seats a little too hard for long-distance comfort. Owners can opt for 14-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated Recaro sport seats, which provide additional bolstering, but some reviewers found the upgraded seats too narrow, especially for larger drivers.
Cadillac equips the CTS-V with all the other expected amenities, including a 10-speaker Bose audio system with navigation, ambient interior lighting, automatic dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped power telescopic steering wheel and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. The CTS-V also gets standard OnStar with one year of the Directions and Connections plan. Six airbags, a rear-view backup camera, ultrasonic rear park assist and a side blind-zone alert system are also included, along with such additional safety features as the StabiliTrak electronic control system and traction control.
Owners acknowledge that there are cars available that provide better performance and more luxurious interiors than the CTS-V, but they also note that in most cases, those vehicles are a lot more expensive. In addition, the CTS-V behaves admirably as an everyday driver, they say, but can quickly shed the soccer-mom everyday existence when unleashed on a long ribbon of highway. Owners give high marks to the CTS-V for its ride, handling and performance, as well as its eye-catching exterior design, but find fault with its fuel economy and front seats. However, CTS-V owners are overwhelmingly positive about their purchases, noting that the sport coupe delivers plenty of punch for the money.
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.