What do you get when you wave a wand at a 2-ton luxury sedan and turn it into one of the fastest production cars on the planet? The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V.
The CTS-V is Cadillac's relatively mild-mannered CTS midsize sedan on enough anabolic steroids to turn Dickens' Tiny Tim into the Hulk.
Can we talk scary fast? The CTS-V vaults from zero to 60 m.p.h. in an extraterrestrial 3.7 seconds, and tops out at 200 m.p.h.
Those are the numbers you get when you stuff a supercharged Corvette V-8 into a sedan normally preoccupied with comfort and hedonism and converted into the ultimate sleeper in the process.
The CTS-V's 6.2-liter V-8 is the same engine used in the Vette's 650-horsepower ZO6 model. It develops 10 horsepower less in this more restrictive setting, but that 640 is still 85 more than the previous CTS mustered.
All that power is transmitted to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox and an electronically controlled, limited-slip differential that determines how much power goes to each rear wheel in a given situation.
(Interestingly enough, that significant boost in power is accompanied by a significant increase in fuel economy. The new car has EPA mileage ratings of 14 city and 21 highway; the old one was 12 and 18.)
The CTS-V's engine performance is matched by its extraordinary handling and braking. Handling improvements begin with additional structural reinforcements that triggered a 20 percent increase in rigidity. Adaptive damping continuously tailors shock-absorber response to the driving situation at hand.
Handling also is enhanced by performance tires that give the car Herculean grip - they won't brake loose on a corner until the force of gravity is reached. A typical family car has about three-fourths that grip.
Huge Brembo high-performance disc brakes, squeezed by an extraordinary six calipers up front and four in the rear, bring the CTS-V from 60 m.p.h. to a stop in a stunning 99 feet.
Steering precision and feel are improved by a new ZF electric power-steering unit.
The net result is a solid, confident automotive athlete that takes corners as quickly and effortlessly as it accelerates.
Cosmetically, the CTS-V isn't too much different from its more pedestrian stablemate. What sets it apart are a special carbon-fiber hood over that big, supercharged V-8, the four exhausts, the CTS insignia, and the unique wheels.
Inside the new CTS-V, we find an exceptionally tasteful automatic interior. It is exquisitely detailed, and this adds to the considerable allure.
Window controls, for example, are black with delicate chrome accents. The saddle-stitched cover on the console cup holder opens and closes electrically. And the materials are right there, from the chrome and carbon-fiber trim, to the real-leather shifter boot and the supple saddle-stitched leather seats with contrasted sueded fabric inserts.
With the exception of the window control and gearshift surrounds, there are no hard plastic surfaces inside this car. Virtually everything is soft-touch.
Driving the car is as pleasurable as it is exciting. The well-bolstered Recaro buckets are very supportive; the instruments, controls, and infotainment extravaganza are quite accessible. The car is solid and quiet unless you release the kraken under the hood. The ride is firm but not brutal.
The CTS-V is, finally, a force to be reckoned with. I think MotorTrend is right when it says this car will "lay bare any doubt that this is the new benchmark in the super sedan class."
2016 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan
Base price: $83,995.
As tested: $91,190.
Standard equipment: 6.2-liter supercharged engine; 8-speed automatic transmission; electronic limited slip differential; rear drive; high performance tires and brakes; and a cornucopia of hedonism and electronics.
Options: Include bucket ventilated Recaro seats ($2,300) and a performance stat recorder ($1,300).
14 city and 21 highway (occasioning a $1,000 gas-guzzler tax).
Engine performance: Sizzling.
Ride quality: Firm.
Styling: Civil and distinctive.
Warranty: 4 years, 50,000 miles.
The Ben key: four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.