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Tuesday 17th May 2011

Driven: Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

High performance estate or crude 'Family Truckster'?


Not the Wagon Queen Family Truckster...
Not the Wagon Queen Family Truckster...
I can't help it. Any mention of an American 'Station Wagon' immediately brings to mind Chevy Chase in that hideous, under-powered, over-sized land yacht in National Lampoon's Vacation film. Although to be fair, that was a long time ago, and on a recent trip to California we had a brief drive of the latest wagon from Cadillac to see if they'd learned anything since the days of squared-off front-ends and fake wood panelling. Mmmm.

...not the Cadillac CTS-V Station Wagon
...not the Cadillac CTS-V Station Wagon
We'd been allowed a brief drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica to Malibu which, whilst not being the most challenging piece of road in the world, is at least devoid of the monotonous straight-line sections beloved of the typical American Interstate and does have some decent undulating bends.

'Our' car had been parked nose-first, so with just the tailgate to look at there was little to suggest that this was anything other than a regular contemporary estate car, aside from a discreet 'V' badge. The front is a slightly different matter with a blingy Bentley-style chrome grille and a bulging bonnet, but still it doesn't shout at you too much and certainly doesn't look like a car with over 550bhp. But despite this, we suspect the car will win few friends in Europe from the point of view of its looks. Then again the Porsche Panamera isn't exactly Miura-gorgeous...


On the inside you're greeted by an Alcantara-clad steering wheel and an interior which is actually pretty good. Sure, there's evidence of Cadillac having raided GM's parts bin for some bits which are shared with cheaper Chevys, but the overall impression is that this is a nice place to be, and even half-decently put together. It's no M5, but is an improvement over other recent offerings from the US.

Having adjusted the optional Recaros to suit we whispered our way out onto the highway and couldn't decide if the car's quietness was a good thing or not. Even the supercharger 'whine' we expected had somehow been dialled-out by the engineers. Surely anything with a supercharged V8 and huge horsepower needs to sound the part?


As a clear gap opened up ahead of us it was time to see how the quiet American fared in the performance stakes. A couple of seconds later we had our answer. Despite being at low revs and in 4th gear, the Caddy reacted instantly, pinned us back hard in our seats, and had swallowed-up the considerable gap we'd left between us and the car in front very, very quicky... and it hadn't even got above 4500rpm. Impressive. As the Americans say; 'Horsepower sells engines, but torque wins races.' The CTS-V Wagon has plenty of both. In fact, it's supercar-fast with a standing quarter mile being covered in 12.3 seconds. A bit further up the road we got to properly open the taps and, far from being purely torque-biased in its delivery, the engine has plenty of poke up-top, and pulls hard until it starts to tickle the rev-limiter.

Sadly we simply didn't get much chance to properly sample the handling - although the fact that the 4-door version showed the M5 a clean pair of heels around the Nurburgring is a pretty good indication that it's not to be messed with. All we can confirm is that steering feel is very good and that the turn-in is sharper then you'd expect. Alas, we didn't get to see just how well it puts the power down coming out of a tight turn...


Our brief dalliance was over after less than 30 minutes, in which time almost all memory of ghastly Yank 'Station Wagons' of the past had been erased. So, you're probably expecting us to tell you to get one ordered? Er...nope. Not quite at least. The first problem is that they're not being officially brought into the country. The second is that if you do get one (through people like this www.bauer-millett.com) it will be LHD only. The third problem (as if the first two weren't enough) is that this car's looks and badge mean it probably just won't 'fit-in' in Europe like it does in the States. This is a shame, because it's superb to drive.


Having said that, on the US market the CTS-V Wagon is available for $68,640 (that's just under £42,000!) and if we built an estate car in the UK that could rival similar machinery from Munich or Stuttgart for that money, I'd guess that we'd be quite chuffed about it? You probably won't see many over here anyway, but if you do - and you don't happen to be in your Enzo at the time - our advice is not to tangle with it.



silversixx
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Author Discussion

oilit

Original Poster:

315 posts

62 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
what is that on the arm rest - has something fallen off of it!!!???

ZOLLAR

17,021 posts

57 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
I quite like the interior yes

Chris-R

733 posts

71 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
oilit said:
what is that on the arm rest - has something fallen off of it!!!???
Probably the wonky foot that must have fallen off Silversixx's tripod...

Sneaky Schnell

1,192 posts

89 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
I think it looks quite smart in the first photographs.

yellowbentines

3,584 posts

91 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
The front upper and lower grilles look like hideous aftermarket additions, interior looks quite smart however.
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g3org3y

8,993 posts

75 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
oilit said:
what is that on the arm rest - has something fallen off of it!!!???
SLR lens cap.

W00DY

7,857 posts

110 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
A big power, manual RWD estate which is also rather handsome AND a decent steer?

Yes please.

oilit

Original Poster:

315 posts

62 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
g3org3y said:
SLR lens cap.
'Probably the wonky foot that must have fallen off Silversixx's tripod...'


LOL - ok so the general feeling is that its the photographers equivalent of the mouse on Robert Thompson furniture ;-) (http://www.mousemanfurniture.com/9.html)

Max_Torque

7,648 posts

101 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
2 things would put me off this vs say an M5

1) the auto trans is really ponderous (manual version availible, but tbh having to deal with that kind of torque makes it a bit hard work due to the size of the bits in it)

2) the brakes, i have never driven a road car with such "temperature dependant" brakes, when cold, you think, OMG, will it stop, so you press harder, the pads warm, and suddenly you're hanging in the belts as it serves up a 2g stop without any change in the pedal pressure (although this might be fixed with the latest cars?)


I guess, if bhp per £ is important, it trounces an M5, but for everything else there's Mastercard, no, wait, I mean M-division........... ;-)

jpf

1,134 posts

160 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
"Fit in?"

This from the country that has brought us TVR, Marcos, Ginetta, Bristol, Aston Martin Shooting brakes, etc.?

If it is good, buy it. Who cares abouting fitting in? Are we all supposed to follow the guy in front of us--off the cliff?

dvs_dave

3,977 posts

109 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
I actually really like these. Not driven one but had a good poke about in the local Caddy stealer and the interior does seem well designed and well put together. I've seen a few trundling about and they have a lot of road presence, despite being relatively small in size....somewhere between a 3 and a 5 series.

Must try and take one for a spin sometime. smile

Fruitcake

3,845 posts

110 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
Max_Torque said:
i have never driven a road car with such "temperature dependant" brakes
Drive a FIAT Punto, then re-visit this statement.

Tim16V

243 posts

66 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
I drove the 3.0 version around Canada for a couple of weeks last year. It really does feel like a quality item - they've obviously done a lot of work on them.

Performance was OK, handling fine and 30 mpg average - I expect the V to be really good.

tps23

103 posts

86 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
Sneaky Schnell said:
I think it looks quite smart in the first photographs.
+1 and then you get to the final picture of the front and think... maybe the grill could have been designed with humans looking at it in mind
Value sounds good but as stated, LHD + import would put me off

em177

1,641 posts

48 months

[news] 
Monday 16th May 2011 quote quote all
Quick bit of dark spray paint to those grills and that looks a rather tasty thing!

EBruce

172 posts

52 months

[news] 
Tuesday 17th May 2011 quote quote all
Max_Torque said:
2 things would put me off this vs say an M5

1) the auto trans is really ponderous (manual version availible, but tbh having to deal with that kind of torque makes it a bit hard work due to the size of the bits in it)

2) the brakes, i have never driven a road car with such "temperature dependant" brakes, when cold, you think, OMG, will it stop, so you press harder, the pads warm, and suddenly you're hanging in the belts as it serves up a 2g stop without any change in the pedal pressure (although this might be fixed with the latest cars?)


I guess, if bhp per £ is important, it trounces an M5, but for everything else there's Mastercard, no, wait, I mean M-division........... ;-)
? That kind of torque with a manual is perfect. This is a negative? Go buy a TSX wagon if you do not want torque.





louiebaby

5,578 posts

75 months

[news] 
Tuesday 17th May 2011 quote quote all
Looking at the car from the outside, the boot (or should that be trunk) doesn't look that big. In the pic, it looks massive. Have the back seats been slid forwards, or is it a Tardis?

I wouldn't import one over here, but if I lived over there, it would make an awful lot of sense...

E21_Ross

14,609 posts

96 months

[news] 
Tuesday 17th May 2011 quote quote all
certainly looks like it's a pretty good offering. though comparing it to an M5 which is now the best part of 7 years old is perhaps a little unfair, will it be better/faster than the next one, i wonder?

300bhp/ton

29,629 posts

74 months

[news] 
Tuesday 17th May 2011 quote quote all
Really not keen on the looks of these new age Caddy's frown

Probably a really good car though with a great engine. But no, not for me.

LuS1fer

31,706 posts

129 months

[news] 
Tuesday 17th May 2011 quote quote all
Only thing I'd trade the Mustang for in saloon, estate or coupe guise. Motor Trend tested the coupe against the M3 and RS4 and it came 3rd mainlyy due to the gearbox which the Americans still need to work on.
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