With a potent twin-turbo engine and suspension, steering and brakes to match, the Cadillac CT5-V is fun to drive.
Unlike many vehicles – past and present – bearing the Cadillac Crest, this one was developed with the driver as priority, rather than passengers.
It starts with the basic structure – the platform, as it is known in the industry. The CT5-V is based on General Motors’ ‘Alpha 2’ platform, also found beneath the Camaro.
The suspension, fastened individually to each corner of this super-stiff structure, boasts the fourth generation of GM’s Magnetic Ride Control shock absorbers. This sophisticated quartet uses sensors to monitor road conditions up to 1,000 times EVERY SECOND, adjusting each shock absorber individually every five milliseconds.
The result is the ability to soak up road blemishes or variations without going all mushy in the turns.
Driving the 2020 Cadillac CT5-V, there is a level of confidence and a ride-and-handling balance few big cars come close to, none within tens of thousands of dollars, in my experience.
Snuggled in behind each of the big 19-inch split-spoke alloy wheels is a Brembo brake caliper with four pistons clamping performance pads against a giant (350/340-mm) vented disc. This is the same brake-by-wire system developed for the new mid-engine Corvette and utilized on high performance variations of the Camaro.
The powerful brakes are able to haul this car back down from silly speeds, repeatedly, with no signs of fade. Response to inputs is linear and there is plenty of feedback.
Beneath the long hood rests a twin-turbo V6 displacing 3.0 litres. It produces 360 horsepower at 5,400 RPM and 405 lb-ft of torque from 2,350 to 4,000 RPM thanks to 18 pounds of boost from the turbos.
The 10-speed automatic transmission bolted to that engine is the result of a joint development between GM and Ford. It is specifically calibrated for this high-performance application. Thanks to those turbos, the availability of 10 gears and the willingness of the transmission to select the appropriate one instantly, there is plenty of power at any speed.
Incorporated within the drivetrain is an all-wheel-drive system and a drive mode selector that lets you choose from Tour, Sport, Sport 2, Track, Snow and Ice. There is also ‘MyMode’, allowing individual drivers to arrange their preferences from a variety of performance characteristics.
The results of all this is the delightful ability to go where you want, when you want, with absolutely no delay or doubt.
Every input results in instant response. There is lots of power with little to no turbo delay. This rather large sedan will scoot to 100 km/h in less than six seconds.
If you want more power, the CT5-V Blackwing will be along this spring, reportedly with a V8 engine and at least 650 horsepower. It is also likely it will be accompanied by a price tag that contains six digits.
The one area the CT5-V comes up short, compared to the competition, is in the interior. Fit and finish are first rate, but material quality and design are not up to the same level exhibited by the Germans.
There is too much hard plastic to play in this field and I found the overall impression too black and bland. There was an obvious attempt to emphasize black inside and out, so that is obviously a matter of taste or choice.
Sound system and rear-view camera exemplary; Cadillac’s CUE operating system vastly improved
The Bose audio system is exemplary as are the front seats and bright infotainment screen. The latest version of Cadillac’s CUE operating system is a vast improvement. Quick to respond, it is now accompanied by a couple of knobs and buttons allowing instant access to common functions without having to wade through distracting menus.
Kudos to the rear view camera as well. It provides a variety of views – above, to the sides and in front. Parking in tight quarters is a breeze.
The 2021 Cadillac CT5-V is a serious competitor in the entry luxury performance class. What it gives up in terms of the interior, it makes up for in value, performance and technology.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Cadillac CT5 V-Series
As tested: $67,723 including freight
Cadillac user experience with embedded navigation AM/FM stereo with connected navigation providing real-time traffic, 25-cm diagonal colour information display, three USBs, personalized profiles for each driver’s settings, Natural Voice Recognition, Phone Integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability for compatible phone, NFC (Near Field Communications) mobile device pairing, Connected Apps and Teen Driver (Included and only available with (ST1) Premium Package)
Heated and cooled 18-way power front seats with lumbar massage, heated steering wheel, heated, folding mirrors, illuminated door handles, front cornering lamps, rear mirror camera with tilt and zoom function, heads up display, LED headlights
Satin steel paint, $900; all-wheel-drive, $2,200; 19-inch painted alloy wheels with summer-only run-flat performance tires, $690; suede microfibre steering wheel, $350; dual-pane sunroof, $1,685; jet-black interior with leather seating, $1,725; premium package, (Navigation, 15-speaker Bose Premium Audio Package and Lighting Package), $4,275; Driver awareness plus package (includes Following Distance Indicator, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure warning, Head-Up Display, 20-cm diagonal colour reconfigurable Driver Information Centre display and IntelliBeam), $1,495; parking package (includes Air Ionizer, power tilt and telescoping steering column), Rear Camera Mirror
Rear Pedestrian Alert, HD Surround Vision, Surround Vision Recorder, Hands-Free Decklid Release, outside heated power-adjustable, power-folding mirrors and Automatic Parking Assist with braking, $2,405.
Twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6, 360-horsepower, 405 lb.ft. of torque, premium fuel; 10-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 13.8/9.4
Length, 4,923-mm; width, 1,882-mm; wheelbase, 2,946-mm; weight, 1,879-kg