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03-30-2004, 02:25 PM
As posted on a couple of BMW sites:

Short version: A thunderingly fast, amazingly competent sports sedan with a few minor flaws. Anyone who buys an E60 530i for the same money is a ****ing idiot.

Somewhat longer version:

The interior of the CTS-V is pretty well executed. The gauges are large and very legible, and the controls for the radio/climate control are very intuitive and easy to use. Kudos, for example, for including a large volume knob and large tuning knob for the radio.

Little details are also well done. There are two stalks, like in European and Japanese cars, and they feel solid and precise--a far cry from the ancillary controls that GM use to employ, which felt brittle and cheap. There is a wealth of electronic information available, including the individual tire pressures of all four tires (like the E55), an electronic g-meter, and an electronic digital speedometer (in addition to the analog display).

There are some missteps. The parking brake, in the grand American tradition, is foot pedal operated, for some reason. The steering wheel doesn't telescope. It's hard to describe, but the ignition key/lock retains ghosts of the old GM interior feel, which isn't a good thing. And the interior plastic is not as nice as that found in the E39 or E46, though it is just as good (if not better) than the crap BMW is putting in the E60/65/63.

The seats are acceptable. Side bolstering is not as aggressive as I might like, though they are probably about as good as the non-adjustable seats I have in my E46. The Alcantara center section looks nice, and provides a sticky surface that holds you better than the slick Nappa in the M3.

What's the drive like?

Pulling away, the first thing you notice is the steering, which is quite light at low speeds. The steering wheel rim is thinner than the fat boy in the M3, but is actually probably about the right thickness. The engine is quiet and docile at idle, and the clutch takeup is surprisingly smooth and light for a driveline this powerful. There is some driveline snatch,* of a kind that will be familiar to M3 and M5 drivers, but if you concentrate a bit you can smooth your inputs and make it go away.

As the traffic opens, and you can give the engine its head, you realize that the LS6 is the dominating feature of this car. It has torque in a bottomless, inexhaustible stream, and as the engine gains revs it issues an unmistakable, hammering V8 cacophony. I've gotta say that I love the way that high performance American V8s sound, because no matter how much power they produce, they all retain a little bit of that industrial backbeat that calls to mind Woodward in its glory days.

And this car is very, very fast. It adds speed effortlessly, the way a buggy pulled by a Clydesdale on a cocaine binge might. But that's missing the point a bit, because it feels much more relaxed than the M3 does--the M3 is wound tight, whereas the CTS-V is rangy and loping. I can't speak to the axle tramp question, because I didn't push it hard from a standing start, but in everyday driving it handles the power with aplomb.

Throw it into a curve, and you can feel the weight. This car is clearly bigger than the E46, and it's agility suffers a bit for it. The steering firms up at speed, and while it remains lighter than the M3, it's no less communicative. Hitting a mid-corner bump reveals the stiffness of the damping, brought about in part by the F1 Supercar EMT tires; while the ride is generally very good and very smooth, sharp impacts can be transmitted through the chassis quite directly.

The shifter is workmanlike, but no one is ever going to write sonnets about it. It's a bit vague, and the dreaded Skip Shift feature rears its head when you are puttering about. It's fairly easy to override, but disconnecting it (if that can still be done) would be the first thing I would do when I got the car home. The shift throws are about average, and the gate is reasonably well laid out, though 6th is way over to the right. Oddly, reverse is up and to the right.

In terms of the overall driving gestalt, it's a bit unfair to compare this car to an E46. It's a bigger car, and its extra space and avoirdupois dictate that it will never have quite the same directness as the M3. It's much better to compare it to an M5, and here the CTS-V acquits itself very well. The things that the M5 does better than the CTS-V are...well, I suspect that there may be some, but I can't think of any at the moment. Wait, here's one: It impresses badge snobs better. Other than that, the CTS-V has the measure of the E39 M5.

And this is the really good bit: It does all of that for right about $50K. And that includes all manner of doo-dads that are either optional or not available on the E39 (or E60), such as nav, the electronic info center (transmission oil temp/g force gauge/tire pressure), XM radio, auto wipers, heated seats, OnStar, etc. etc. Like the Acura TL, the Cadillac comes loaded, and GM doesn't try and nickel and dime you to death with stupid option prices. I suppose that if you are looking for a stripped down club racer this is a bad thing, but if you are looking for a stripped down club racer and you are thinking either M5 or CTS-V you should have your head examined. For the type of driving this car is going to do, the options are nice to have.

Comparing the CTS-V to a 400 hp M5 makes sense. Comparing it to the BMW you can actually buy for the same money (a moderately well equipped 530) is just stupid. The Cadillac has 175 more hp, a performance advantage that makes the BMW look laughably slow and overpriced, and comes with a vast range of additional equipment. It also (to me) looks better, though the very worst you can say about the styling of the Cadillac is that even if you dislike it, it's honestly no more polarizing than Bangle's bull****.

In the end, the only relevant question is whether, having driven a CTS-V, I would buy one. The answer is unequivocally yes. The minor flaws are meaningless compared to the impressive package that Cadillac has put together. Because the M3 is smaller and lighter, I'm not impressed *enough* with the Cadillac to end the lease on my M early. But when it's time for the M3 to go back, the CTS-V is going to be the first car on my shopping list.

03-30-2004, 03:28 PM
Nice job. I have driven the M5 (E39) and the CTS V. I thought the V was a bit quicker and the M5 handled a bit better. I lean toward the V as it costs that same as about a 2001 M5 but has a warranty. I do worry about how well it will hold up over time, though I understand the engine is pretty durable.

Two questions (forgive my ignorance): What is driveline snatch and Skip Shift? Thanks.

03-30-2004, 03:31 PM
I could shoot an hour trying to do better but how to trump,"...the way a buggy pulled by a Clydesdale on a cocaine binge might"?
I brought my V home last Friday and our gizzards grind in harmony. Separated at birth, perhaps?
Since my old wheels had a Leaper on deck, the V, tossed into a curve, is a comparative delight. Quick, nimble and oh, so neutral. No more front wheel furrows for this boy!
How 'bout a handbrake, General? Customers come with two legs, no options.

03-30-2004, 03:31 PM

03-30-2004, 03:32 PM
The shifting program that GM uses on LSx engines which "guides" the shifter from 1st to 4th during light throttle gear changes. Driveline snatch is the whipping/clunking feel you can get when engaging and disengaging the clutch pedal quickly (as when you are backing up out of a parking space).

03-30-2004, 04:14 PM
but I have purposely gone extremely slow and tried to have the machine go from 1st to 4th and it hasn't done it yet.

I have obviously been on the lookout for this function since I ordered the car and I only got it last week - but it hasn't happened yet.

I can't compare it to an M5 or M3. My last sedan was a Lexus GS300. Prior to that I had a caddy STS.

I can only say that it isn't like any cadillac I ever had and I had about 8 of them.

The engine performance is obvious, but the car also appears to be tighter, better put together than any other caddy I had owned.

It is flat out fun to drive. I was a little worried about driving a clutch as I hadn't had one since my fiat in late 70's but it is a very easy car to drive. Yesterday, I got in my wife's Jag xk8 and kept smeshing for the missing clutch - I'm truly hooked on the fun of driving the V.

I actually like the interior very much. No, it doesn't have wood like the Jag S type R I recently drove - but it isn't like an S type R at all. This thing reminds me of a stealth fighter - I don't know if the wood would even look good in a car like this.

I like the fact that the car is somewhat understated, appearance wise from it's competitors like BMW and Mercedes. I do think it looks alot better than the normal CTS but again that's just an opinion.

Overall, to compare it alittle to the lexus, I would say it reminds me alittle of the IS300 I drove, except on steroids. Lexus does put cars together nicely and the fit and finish of this care compares very favorably, I actually think the paint job is better.

There really is no comparison to the GS300 which is put together very nicely and is quiet but gets rather boring IMO.

Boring this V is not, I'm having fun driving again.

04-01-2004, 01:39 AM
How do the rides of both cars compare? Currently I'm leaning toward the M3, but being overseas, I haven't had ample opportunity to test drive. Due to recent reviews, I'm worried about purchasing the M3 and pissing off my wife on trips 'cause it rides like a stagecoach on the Santa Fe trail. What says you? Is the CTS-V significantly more compliant on the road?

Appreciate you insight


04-01-2004, 11:37 AM
I had a 02 M3 and the suspension on that car was fairly stiff, but when on smooth roads you would not know it. The M3 is wound a little bit tighter than the V in regards to the suspension, but that does not mean the V is not a compentent handler. If I have to rate them on a 1-10 scale for track drving the M3 would be a 9 and the V would be an 8. On the comfort scale the V would be a 9 and the M3 an 8. They are two different cars and it all it what you are looking for.

04-01-2004, 12:22 PM

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