2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Greg Wilson
Those looking for maximum performance in the newly redesigned CTS sedan should check out the new Twin-Turbo Vsport trim. Equipped with Cadillac’s first twin-turbocharged 3.6L V6 engine pumping out 420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque through an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission, the CTS Vsport sedan currently reigns as the performance champ of the 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan lineup… at least until a replacement for the 556-hp V8-powered CTS-V sedan appears.
Still, 420 ponies is nothing to sneeze at: the CTS Vsport sedan sprints from 0 to 96 km/h in just 4.4 seconds; and with approximately 90 percent of the engine’s torque available between 3,500 and 4,500 rpm, the CTS Vsport has buckets of mid-range punch without suffering noticeable turbo lag off the line. Four driver-selectable driving modes are available to suit the driver’s whim: Tour, Sport, Track and Snow/Ice. Tour setting provides quick acceleration, relaxed transmission shift timing, easier steering, and a more comfortable (if still a bit stiff) ride. In Sport mode, throttle input is more immediate, the transmission shifts later on the upshifts and sooner on the downshifts, the magnetic ride suspension stiffens up, and the ZF electric variable-assist steering responds more quickly. Track mode is more of the same with an even stiffer suspension for better handling at high speeds. The Snow/Ice setting is designed to minimize wheel spin by reducing throttle input.
The new eight-speed automatic transmission handles the turbocharged engine’s generous torque with ease – it shifts almost imperceptibly and responds quickly to kick-down. As mentioned, shift timing gets more aggressive in Sport and Track mode to improve performance. Should the driver wish to get involved with the shifting, there are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel activated by pushing a big M on the top of the shift lever – tug on the left paddle to shift down, pull the right paddle to shift up.
Cruising down the freeway in 8th gear, the engine revs under 2,000 rpm for a quiet, leisurely ride. This should provide decent fuel economy on the highway, but the EPA rates the CTS Vsport poorly: 14.7 L/100 km city (16 mpg US) and 9.8 highway (24 mpg) for a combined rating of 13.1 (18 mpg) – and the CTS Vsport uses premium-grade gasoline. During my week of admittedly aggressive driving (to try out all the drive modes!) I was seeing 16 L/100 km. Ouch!
Thanks to a near 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, a wider track and a longer wheelbase than the previous CTS sedan, the rear-wheel drive CTS Vsport is a more balanced and stable handler than its predecessor. Its fully independent suspension (front McPherson struts/rear five-link), Magnetic Ride Control with continuously variable real-time dampers, electronic limited slip rear differential, and sticky 245/45R18-inch (front) and 275/35R18 (rear) Pirelli P Zero summer run-flat tires all contribute to impressive and rewarding driving dynamics. Still, the ride is rather stiff, even in Tour mode and road imperfections make themselves known. As well, we found that the standard 18-inch low profile Pirelli P Zero tires had a curious tendency to follow road grooves and painted lines, which required minor steering adjustments and extra driver concentration on straight roads where it shouldn’t have been necessary. As well, during the cold (8 degrees C) and rainy week we tested our CTS Vsport, we found the Pirelli summer tires’ cornering grip was reduced – as might be expected. Owners with these summer tires should switch to winter tires in the fall.
2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport engine bay & dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Note that while all-wheel drive is available in the CTS 2.0L Turbo and CTS 3.6L trims, it is not available in the CTS Vsport trim, which comes with rear-wheel drive only – for the time being.
2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport 18″ wheel. Click image to enlarge
While all CTS sedans have four-wheel disc brakes, the Vsport has larger Brembo rotors and aluminum front calipers for reduced brake fade and shorter stopping distances. Pedal feel is firm and progressive. High-performance brake pads are also available for enthusiast types.
Should you be nervous about parallel parking, the Vsport’s self-parking feature will do it for you – well, almost. Pull the Vsport up beside the car in front of your desired parking space, apply the brake, put it in Reverse, press the button and let go of the steering wheel. The Vsport will steer itself into the parking space with a little help from the accelerator and brake pedals. You just have to make sure your car is positioned in the right starting position. I discovered later that the CTS will also park itself front first, but I haven’t tried it.