Review – 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe: The Red Blooded Coupe

Holy crap, Cadillac has a sexy coupe for sale. I mean, who thought I would utter those words in 2011? Well there they are, in black and white type.

The reality is that any variant of the CTS-V is awe inspiring, and I’ve already attempted to find the meaning of life with the CTS-V Sport Wagon. But when the opportunity arises, who am I to turn down the opportunity to find out what is it like to live with the CTS-V Coupe?

Frankly it’s awesome, but not perfect. If we are being honest (always be honest), I was quite mixed when I first saw the CTS Coupe (both V and normal variant). From some angles it is just plain awkward. But after having one in my garage for a week, I can confidently say my opinion is that it is clearly gorgeous. One of the main reasons is there’s nothing else like it on the road. That in itself holds some kind of beauty.

The rear glass slopes down at a ridiculously steep angle, leading into a short trunk lid. That trunk lid has an almost comically huge spoiler shaped like a V. While to some this huge red “spoiler” looks funny, it’s both functional for aerodynamics and acts as the third brake light.

Another new option for 2011 is the 19-inch satin graphite wheels. The wheels are the same design as the non-stain graphite and are essentially painted black at the factory.  This $800 option also adds yellow calipers which look terrific and contrast with the wheels nicely. These only further enhance the menacing look and stance of the CTS-V Coupe.

It seems the most controversial point of the CTS-V Coupe is the rear end. To say it has junk in the trunk would be a pretty accurate statement. With the wide, almost stretched out looking fenders, the rear end is a love-it or hate-it affair. This is actually the part I was personally mixed on. After a few days with it, I definitely decided I love it. With a wide stance and sharp angles, it’s really terrific. However, I can easily see why some will feel the exact opposite.

Inside the V-Coupe you’ll find the standard CTS-V interior. From the rising center screen to the glossy black plastic, it’s all here. The one standout change was the optional ebony with saffron interior. For those who don’t know what saffron is, it’s essentially yellow.

While I felt this black and saffron interior was gorgeous, throughout the week I received mixed reactions. So buyer beware, you probably want to see this color combination in person before ordering it.

My tester featured the terrific $3,400 Recaro seat option. These seats are not only comfortable, but are also really adjustable. They are perfect for both driving around town on the weekdays and hitting the track on the weekends. I highly recommend getting this option. They are so nice I wish they were available as an option on the standard CTS models.

The powertrain is the one-and-only 6.2-Liter LSA V-8 with a nice big supercharger fitted to the top. Rated at 556-horsepower and 551 pound feet of torque, this engine is not lacking in the power department.

My tester had the Tremec six-speed manual, though a six-speed automatic is available as a no cost option. I highly recommend choosing to row your own gears as this is a great manual transmission.

One of my favorite aspects of the CTS-V model range is the supercharger. The way it is set-up you can hear the whine nearly all the time. While just cruising around town or on the highway, it is barely noticeable, but you can hear it. But when you mash the go pedal the deep meaty sound you hear spewing out of the V-8 is in perfect harmony with the distinct whine of the supercharger.

Also adding to the symphony of the engine and supercharger is the rumble from the exhaust. Peeking out from the center of the bumper is two rather large exhaust tips. You can both feel and hear the exhaust.

Sadly, every time you hear that exhaust rumble you are likely killing a polar bear (or a dozen polar bears). Rated by the EPA at 14/19, the CTS-V isn’t what you could call fuel-efficient. That said, for this kind of power those ratings aren’t bad. Then again, if you are actually achieving those kinds of numbers you clearly aren’t driving the CTS-V correctly. I saw an average of 12.3 mpg on my first tank (yes I went through more than one), and 14.2 (I actually tried to see real world mileage) mpg on my second. Not stellar, but if you can afford this car, it shouldn’t matter.

This particular CTS-V Coupe was still wearing snow tires on those 19-inch satin graphite wheels. While the tires where high performance snow tires (Pirelli Sottozeros), handling still suffered. From a launch the tires were sticky and easily put the power to the ground, but when you hit a corner at a brisk pace, or tried to tackle an on-ramp at a high rate of speed, the tires gave up grip very early. While this could be viewed as a bad thing, I quickly viewed this as a fun tail-out driving invitation. Though with this much power on hand, even with sticky summer tires kicking the rear end out quickly is probably no issue.

During my time with the CTS-V Coupe I made both a Costco run and a grocery store run in one evening. By the end the trunk was completely stuffed. Luckily we didn’t end up buying much at Costco otherwise we would’ve had to either use the rear seats for storage or fold them down for the trunk pass through.

I had some friends visiting from out of town for the weekend and they wanted to run around Minneapolis to go shopping at some different locations. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to truly test out the back seat in the CTS-V Coupe. It became clear very quickly that the coupes issue doesn’t have to do with legroom in the rear, but rather headroom. That sloping roofline really cuts the rear headroom, most passengers heads will hit/rest on the back glass unless they crouch down. Not a comfortable seating position. Reserve the rear seats for kids, short trips across town, or people you hate.

Of course I must mention the blow out. My fiancée and I were just leaving home to see some friends in the CTS-V Coupe when a large pot hole on an onramp blew out the front passenger side tire. Immediately after hitting the pot hole I realized the tire blew out and pulled over. The rest of the adventure is a somewhat long and a colorful story. You can read the full details of that experience here. The bottom line, towing the CTS-V Coupe is not a whole lot of fun.

With a sticker price of $69,440 the CTS-V Coupe is not a cheap ride. For that kind of money you could buy a BMW M3, Ford Mustang BOSS 302, or even a Chevrolet Corvette. But none of them look anything like the CTS-V Coupe. The only one that would have a luxury feel would be the BMW M3, and that is a completely different feel overall. I’m not convinced many people will cross-shop the CTS-V Coupe with any of those vehicles. It’s honestly a different breed of car and as such, will attract a different breed of driver.

Would I recommend the CTS-V Coupe? Heck yes. Would I buy the CTS-V Coupe? The answer is yes, but only if I was at a different stage in my life. Right now I would personally choose the Sport Wagon variant over the coupe, if only for the added utility. When I’m slightly older and the kids that I don’t currently have yet have gone to college, then I’d choose the Coupe. It’s understated but completely bad ass looking. For me it attracts the right kind of attention. It’s not flashy and showy, but it’s distinctive and unique.

Cadillac ran an ad that touted red-blooded luxury. This type of luxury is apparently different than blue-blooded luxury. The ad trades the terms cold and ordinary for gusto, glamour, and daring. Those words definitely fit the CTS-V Coupe. The ad spot bills this new Cadillac as red-blooded luxury with lightning in its veins. After my week with the CTS-V Coupe, I can honestly say that I felt the lightning flowing through this coupe’s veins, and I want more.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

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