For 2006, the regular (non-V) version of the Cadillac CTS undergoes only minor changes, most of them cosmetic. There are two new trim packages, the Sport Performance and Sport Appearance; Driver Shift Control is standard with the automatic transmission; there are three new exterior colours, Radiant Bronze, Blackberry and Infrared; there are burl-patterned accents on the optional trim package; and there’s a new Cashmere interior colour scheme.

The Sport Performance Package features 18-inch performance tires, polished nine-spoke wheels, new performance brakes, revised suspension tuning, Xenon headlamps, StabiliTrak, a tire pressure monitoring system and a limited-slip differential. The Sport Appearance Package includes the Performance Package’s features, plus specific 18-inch wheels, restyling rocker mouldings, dual exhaust tips, a new front sport grille and a rear spoiler.

For 2006, the CTS-V receives a new 6.0-litre V8, plus a power sunroof as standard equipment. The 6.0-litre replaces the 5.7-litre of 2005, although horsepower and torque ratings, acceleration times and top speed have not changed. The engine features an aluminum block, two-valve cylinder heads with a revised air induction system, and an enlarged dual exhaust for a better sound. Modifications to reduce noise, vibration and harshness include a high-profile camshaft for better combustion chamber airflow, high-strength pistons, revised valves with stiffer springs, high-flow injectors and intake manifold, and an engine cover.

Regular CTS models continue with a choice of two V6 engines, a 2.8-litre and 3.6-litre. The CTS comes with a six-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a five-speed automatic; the CTS-V uses a heavy-duty six-speed manual only.

The 2.8-litre model includes fog lights, heated power mirrors, 16-inch aluminum wheels, automatic dual-zone electronic climate control, cruise control, five-language driver information centre, puddle lights, auto-dimming mirror with compass and OnStar system, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, power express up/down on the front windows and express down on the rear, “leatherette” heated seats with eight-way power driver’s seat, rear seat pass-through, CD player with seven speakers, four-wheel vented brake discs with ABS, wiper-activated headlights, and traction control.

The 3.6-litre model adds the larger engine and a real leather interior.

The CTS-V comes in a single trim line, and features fog lights, Xenon headlights with high-pressure washers, heated mirrors, 18-inch aluminum wheels, automatic dual-zone climate control, cruise, garage door opener, tire pressure monitoring system, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather-wrapped wheel, heated leather seats with eight-way power front seats, driver’s position memory, six-CD stereo, voice-activated DVD-based navigation system, four-wheel Brembo brakes with four-piston calipers, speed-sensitive variable-assist steering, performance-tuned suspension, keyless entry and OnStar. Upper and lower mesh grilles, a unique aero rocker design and a specific rear fascia identify the special V-series model.

The CTS 2.8 doesn’t perform quite as robustly as its 3.6-litre sibling (which, in turn, pales beside the CTS-V), but it’s still a superb ride, with crisp handling, tight springs and minimal body roll. The six-speed manual makes for spirited driving that can hold its own against pretty much anything its German or Japanese competitors can offer. The CTS-V offers up a powerful engine, superb handling and sticky grip, and if its domestic nameplate doesn’t always carry the weight that some of its global competitors do, you’re the one behind the wheel enjoying the ride. An across-the-board price cut from 2005 makes the CTS an even better proposition for those who like their luxury with some muscle to back it up.

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