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2006 Cadillac CTS-V reviews

January 7, 2006 12:03 PM EST | Cadillac , Sedans | Email to Friend | Comments (0)

View large imageIt may be a little rough around the edges, but the fast and nimble CTS-V is one of the most promising signs yet that Cadillac is ready to take on the world.

V8 muscle, do-it-yourself gearbox, composed chassis, inexpensive compared to its peers, spacious cabin for day-to-day livability.

Can't keep its feet planted during hard launches, awkward interior design, average interior materials.

What's New for 2006
This year the Cadillac CTS-V gets a new 6.0-liter engine with the same output as last year's 5.7-liter, along with a standard power sunroof.

BMW has its M cars, Mercedes has AMG and now Cadillac has its V-Series. This performance-oriented line of cars got its start with the CTS-V in 2004 and has been expanding ever since. The transformation from a regular CTS to a CTS-V begins with the installation of an 6.0-liter V8 good for 400 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque. It puts its power to the rear wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip rear axle and a short 3.73-to-1 final drive ratio to optimize acceleration. An enlarged dual-exhaust system allows the driver and surrounding motorists to appreciate the full-bodied rumble of this superb V8. Sixty miles per hour comes in just 5.1 seconds. Suspension upgrades include performance shock absorbers and stabilizer bars, along with 27-percent firmer spring rates compared to the standard CTS. Under the hood, engineers installed a cross brace between the suspension towers to improve steering response and accuracy. For fade-free stopping under duress, the CTS-V wears a full set of ventilated Brembo brakes with four-piston calipers front and rear. To ensure a tight bond to the pavement, the sedan is fitted with seven-spoke 18-inch wheels and 245/45WR18 Goodyear tires. The CTS-V comes with an adjustable stability control system that allows the driver to tailor the amount of intervention provided to his own skill level. On the cosmetic side, the CTS V-Series is distinguished by a revised front fascia with two large stainless steel mesh grilles that look sharp, while allowing for plenty of air flow to the engine compartment. In back there are twin chrome oval exhaust outlets to identify the V-Series car. Of course, "V" logos on the deck lid, fenders, brake calipers and the speedometer do their part to slam home the message. Inside the cockpit, there's a unique set of instrumentation with a 180-mph speedometer, satin chrome rings around each gauge and an analog temperature gauge instead of a clock. To add to the sporty atmosphere, the three-spoke steering wheel has aluminum trim, while the door handles and shift knob get a satin chrome finish -- these additions are tasteful but the overall design is still subpar for a luxury-branded vehicle. The seats offer additional lateral bolstering to hold the driver and front passenger in place through the turns, and a lower center console armrest ensures unimpeded access to the shifter. Although the CTS-V can't quite match the refinement or style of European tuner sedans, it's hard not to like. Ridiculously fast in a straight line and composed in the corners, this is a car that's fast, "affordable" and fun. It shouldn't compute, but the CTS-V adds up to one of the best Cadillacs ever.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The high-performance, four-door CTS-V is available in one well-equipped model. Standard features include 18-inch wheels and 245/45WR18 Goodyear tires, ventilated Brembo brakes, a driver-adjustable stability control system, high-intensity discharge headlamps, leather upholstery, aluminum and chrome-finish trim, laterally bolstered sport seats, a 180-mph speedometer, dual-zone automatic climate control and a CD player. A DVD-based navigation system and a power sunroof are also standard.

Powertrains and Performance:
For 2006, the CTS-V's V8 engine grows in displacement from 5.7 liters to 6.0 liters. This is essentially the same engine found in the Corvette. Power figures are an impressive 400 hp at 6,000 and 395 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm. Shifting through the standard six-speed manual transmission, a driver will need all of 5 seconds to reach 60 mph, and an enlarged dual-exhaust system ensures that both the driver and surrounding motorists will experience the full brunt of the V8's deep rumble.

Four-wheel ventilated discs with four-piston calipers and ABS are standard, as is a stability control system with driver-selectable levels of intervention. Also included are seat-mounted side-impact airbags for front occupants and side curtain airbags that protect front and rear occupants. In government crash tests, the CTS earned four out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts. Side-impact tests resulted in a four-star rating for front passengers and a five-star rating for rear passengers. In frontal offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS, the Cadillac earned a "Good" rating (the best possible) and was named a "Best Pick."

Interior Design and Special Features:
Inside the cockpit, the standard CTS instrumentation has been swapped out for a chrome-ringed set with a 180-mph speedometer. The three-spoke steering wheel has aluminum trim, while the door handles and shift knob get a satin chrome finish -- these are nice touches, but as in the regular CTS, the overall design is awkward and materials quality is mediocre for this class. The seats offer extra lateral bolstering to hold the owner in place during aggressive driving, and the center console armrest has been lowered for better access to the shifter. A spacious backseat allows this performance sedan to pull double duty as a family car when needed.

Driving Impressions:
The CTS-V delivers blistering acceleration at any speed, and the standard manual gearbox provides the perfect means of enjoying it. Fast as it is, though, the sedan is subject to unnerving wheel hop during hard launches, making it seem unrefined alongside European rivals. Fortunately, the suspension displays no such flaws when it comes to keeping the car well planted on the street, where the CTS-V is every bit as entertaining as the best V8-powered European sport sedans. The brakes are quite strong, but inconsistent pedal feel can make them tricky to modulate. Overall, the CTS-V still represents one of the best blends of fun and affordability in its class.

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