As far as the general public is concerned, it makes no difference what an engine and transmission looks like. And I don’t blame them one bit. When you pop the hood on a modern car, you’re rewarded with the sight of a plastic cover and a few exposed random hoses, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see your turbo (if so equipped). Gone are the days of popping the hood just to admire the heart and soul of your beloved car. I’ll always remember the first time I saw under the hood of an Integra Type-R, shortly followed by a supercharged 302 in a Fox-body Ford Mustang – they were beautiful, and those experiences birthed an appreciation for just how cool engines can be. Both of those engines, while completely different, are gorgeous to look at and capable of stirring up emotion in an enthusiast.
So when Cadillac cranked up the spotlight to reveal their all-new flagship powertrain, a 400-hp, 3.0L twin-turbo V6, paired to the Hydra-matic 8L90 eight-speed transmission in Detroit today, a collective “oooh and ahhh” went up. Well, that’s not true at all; I meant I “ooohed and ahhhed” while the rest of the room remained stoic as a brick.
The new 3.0L twin-turbo will make its debut in Cadillac’s new “prestige luxury sedan” – the CT6. Before any of you complain about Cadillac equipping the CT6 with a V6 instead of a naturally aspirated V8, just read a bit about it first. Cadillac set out to build one of the most technologically advanced six-cylinder gas engines available on the market, and by Jove, I think they’ve done it.
Cadillac made use of all the modern advanced tech to achieve the perfect blend of power output, performance, efficiency, and refinement for the 3.0L Twin Turbo. It’s the first V6 to combine turbocharging with stop/start and cylinder deactivation tech – giving you the option of temporarily driving a turbo V4 while giving you an estimated six percent better return in fuel economy.
Obviously, the 3.0L Twin Turbo isn’t all about getting you better fuel mileage. As it was built to power Cadillac’s top-spec sedan, it has to have the performance to back it up. Borrowing a page from the venerable ATS-V, the turbo setup cranks out 18 psi of boost and makes use of lightweight, low-inertia titanium-aluminide turbine wheels and an efficient, patented low-volume charge-air cooler (water-to-air).
This combination translates to monster-boost capability and an instant spool time providing you with instant power on demand. They knew the 3.0L Twin Turbo had to feel comparable to a naturally aspirated V8 and they’ve done everything they could to make it so. Peak torque comes on at 2,500 rpm and remains there up to 5,000 rpm where it will presumably begin to drop off as the revs continue to climb to 6,500 rpm. That’s 400 lb-ft of torque for 2,500 rpm! And by the time the torque drops off, you won’t even notice it, as a 400-hp car at over 5,000 rpm in any gear feels like a bullet.
With 400 hp on tap, the 3.0L Twin Turbo is good for 133 hp per litre. That’s 27 percent more than the BMW 740Li twin-turbo I6 and a whopping 29 percent more than Audi A7’s 3.0L supercharged V6.
As this is Cadillac we’re talking about here, they’ve managed to also make the engine a class leader in the all-important “noise, vibration and harshness” wars. They’ve added tuned air inlet and outlet resonators in the intercooler system, aluminum cam covers and other features, like a new oiling system that moves the pump inside the block. This combination keeps things as quiet as possible. The two-stage oil pump also enhances efficiency. I realize I’m in the minority, but for myself, part of the allure of turbocharging over a naturally aspirated setup are the noises – the awesome sound of a pair of turbos winding up and the satisfying swish of the blow-off-valve venting. This is exactly what Cadillac is trying to get rid of in the name of “luxury”.
Rich Bartlett, the assistant chief engineer for the 3.0L Twin Turbo says, “Cadillac’s elevation on the world stage is driven in great part by its advanced powertrain technology and the all-new 3.0L Twin Turbo powers past the traditional segment leaders with higher degrees of the performance and refinement their reputations were built on.”
Whether you’re a V8 die-hard or not, you have to hand it to Cadillac for what they’ve created with the 3.0L twin-turbo. It’s a technological marvel and is perfectly suited to increasing the appeal of Cadillac in the world market. Like it or not, turbocharging is the way of the future. It’s the happy compromise the manufacturers have reached in the search for increased efficiency without sacrificing performance. I, for one, embrace our new turbo overlords. I have equal love for NA V8s and turbochargers alike, so much so that I own cars with both configurations. If you’re privileged enough, and if you still love your V8 but you’re interested in seeing what all the turbo hubbub is about, perhaps you can go out and buy a 6.2L V8-equipped CTS-V for your kicks, and a CT6 for daily driver duty. I certainly would if I could.