Sick With Power With a less visually satisfying launch, the CTS-V will rocket from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, says Cadillac. By Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit Email Date posted: 06-10-2008 My legs feel somewhat like they did the first time I took Percocet. This is to say they feel like two 32-inch-long rubber bands — sweaty ones. My head inside the helmet feels thick and swollen like an overinflated football. And it's taking me so long to unfasten my helmet strap that I surely must be wearing winter gloves. I expected to be able to casually whip the helmet off between the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V that's just discombobulated my combobutates and the group of GM execs standing about 30 feet away. Awkwardly, I arrive still fumbling, sweating and disoriented. So much for the cool nonchalance I've been striving so hard to cultivate for these many years. Oh, also I'm nauseated. This is what happens once you've spent a couple laps in the passenger seat of the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V while being hurled around the test track at GM's proving ground in Milford, Michigan. Lord of the Rings Cadillac is justifiably proud of its sub-8-minute run at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Now, I don't want to veer too sharply into overstatement. The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V, even with its 556 horsepower, is not the most powerful vehicle I've ever been in. And no, I did not actually drive the new V-specification CTS. That will have to wait another couple of months. And John Heinricy, the GM development engineer and part-time racer who put us in this condition after a few laps around the so-called Lutz-ring at GM's proving grounds in Milford, Michigan, drives as smooth as Teflon-coated butter slathered with pork fat and olive oil. Heck, the silver CTS-V in which he's driving me around has been equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission, for goodness sakes. It is, in fact, the very car that Heinricy recently took to a 7:59.32 lap time around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. He looks as casual driving it around GM's track as he did in the 'Ring video. Thanks to the Sparco racing seat and five-point racing harness that GM has added for safety reasons, my body is bound tightly to the vehicle. It's the stuff inside of my body that I wish were more securely strapped down. There's a steep hillock about three turns into the proving ground's road course that's immediately followed by the "toilet bowl," a heavily banked left-hander that's supposed to replicate the Nürburgring's Karussell. This particular section is evil. I like to think my internal organs are attached to something. But apparently they're just suspended in there like chunks in chowder. Cresting the hill, my feet reflexively scrambling around the floor for security, my eyes widen and a high percentage of my bloody bits are rushing up to hide under my shoulders. Then comes the compression. Like, a lot of compression. The kind of compression that makes you think the car's suspension will just say, "Oh, to hell with this" and the floorboards will come crashing down to the pavement. They don't and it doesn't, of course. But my entire easy-living body is crashing down on my personal floorboard. Dude, are we done yet? Don't Stress Hidden under all that plastic is the 556-hp supercharged 6.2-liter LSA motor. Meanwhile the V-spec CTS seems entirely unstressed. The exhaust note is not angry and harsh like you'd expect from a race-tuned V8. It's not raspy in the upper sound registers like the stunning Mercedes AMG 6.2-liter V8. And it surely doesn't scream bloody murder like a high-revving, small-displacement Italian V8. It makes just a deep and unrelenting low roar. And though this V8 engine is supercharged, there's no characteristic supercharger whine layered on top of the engine noise. This is one of Eaton's new TVS superchargers. The Roots-type blower carries four lobes on each of its two rotors, one more per rotor than a conventional unit. The GM Powertrain engineers promised that it would be quieter and more efficient than existing Roots-type units, and judging by this brief demonstration, it certainly is. The company has been so impressed by the new supercharger that Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter claims that the monster Corvette ZR1 might not have existed at all if the TVS unit hadn't been available. Given that the CTS-V's LSA V8 is simply a dressed-down version of the 637-horspower LS9 V8 in the ZR1, it should come as no surprise that there's more power to be had from this relatively unstressed motor. Dave Mikels, the CTS-V's powertrain integration engineer, reckons a 10 percent boost in horsepower should be within easy reach for a tuner. "I know because we've done it in development," says Mikels with the sly smile that inevitably comes when boys talk about horsepower. But more power is not, you know, strictly necessary, since this car will sprint to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, run the quarter-mile in around 12 seconds, and get all the way to 191 mph. (Cars optioned with the six-speed automatic instead of the manual transmission are limited to 175 mph.) Even at a hefty curb weight estimated to be 4,300 pounds, the CTS-V rocks the best power-to-weight ratio in its class. And this engine also punches out 551 pound-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm. Hop-Scotched The optional Recaro sport seats will be optional. Whatever the cost, they will be worth it. If Cadillac's promises are true, the '09 Cadillac CTS-V will be able to use all that power, too. When the first Cadillac CTS-V arrived as a 2004 model with an LS6 Corvette Z06 V8, Cadillac claimed the car could accelerate to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Theoretically, this might have been possible, but we (like every other publication we know of) were unable to get the car to 60 mph in under 5 seconds. The car had such violent wheel hop at launch that the exhaust pipes thwacked the bodywork and any driver with a shred of mechanical sympathy would back out of the throttle for fear of leaving a smoking pile of rear-end parts at the starting line. As we recall, Cadillac wailed about insufficient driving skills on the part of media testers and questioned testing methods when reports of wheel hop and slower-than-advertised acceleration runs came out five years ago. Now, Mikels says casually, "I don't know how you couldn't get wheel hop from the old car." Thanks. We still haven't had a chance to launch the new car ourselves. But we rode along as Mikels got behind the wheel and cranked off six or seven runs on the same 2.5-mile section of pavement where he had posted those 3.9-second runs. Understand, he has done this countless times; this is his job, for goodness sakes. Still, the new car jumps out of the hole with little drama. There's a little screeching from the 285/35R19 Michelin PS2 rear tires and then the car simply accumulates speed. (I assume the 255/40R19 front tires were touching the ground for most of this, but I can't be sure.) Time To Go With a top speed of 191 mph, a CTS-V with a manual transmission will be capable of using up almost this entire speedometer. The tachometer of this CTS-V development car features lighted segments around the perimeter of the dial that track the fast-sweeping needle, and the segments of red light blink in unison as the engine approaches its redline. When Mikels launches the car, the only apparent violence comes from his aggressive shifting technique, which sends a shudder through the powertrain. It's the fast way to do it, but it's not likely the way most owners will treat their transmissions. Cadillac has tuned the CTS's magnetic rear dampers to go full-on firm on rebound during full-throttle launches to keep the rear tires planted on the pavement. Cadillac also has another trick up its sleeve. Like the ZR1 Corvette, the CTS-V uses axle shafts of different diameters. The one on the driver side has a hollow shaft that's 55mm in diameter, while the one on the passenger side is 53mm in diameter. The result is another measure to minimize wheel hop. This is Mikels' idea. His name is even on the patent and he'd be so tickled if another manufacturer picked it up. With equal-diameter half-shafts, torque transfers back and forth across the limited-slip differential and can cause wheel hop. Shafts of different diameters effectively quell this back-and-forth tendency before it's transferred into vertical suspension motion. In any case, so smooth and consistent is the acceleration of the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V that I might have been unaware of the magnitude of the accelerative force had I not been involuntarily tensing my abdominal muscles in a fruitless attempt to stay upright. Turns out, muscles are unaware that seatbacks can perform this duty — particularly muscles so unaccustomed to being roused. Speed Costs Money Behind this spinning 19-inch rear wheel is a 14.4-inch vented rotor with four-piston aluminum Brembo caliper. The front corners carry 14.6-inch rotors and six-piston calipers. Mikels tops out at around 150 mph on these acceleration runs. Even on a day troubled by wind gusts of 30 mph, the CTS-V feels dead stable at this speed. Until we get some time behind the wheel of the thing later this summer, that's about all we're prepared to say. The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V goes on sale in October. Cadillac says the price hasn't been set. But since the old model got up to $53,000 and since the new 414-hp, V8-powered BMW M3 runs right around $60,000, we expect the Cadillac will list for just over $60K. A few options such as the automatic and the supremely comfy Recaro seats should push the price up to around $65,000. That's not a small amount of money, but it's a hell of a lot of horsepower. Even at 150 mph with a gusting crosswind, the CTS-V is dead-nuts stable.