That Thing Got a Supercharger?

Cadillac CTS / Reviews / 2011 Cadillac CTS Review / That Thing Got a Supercharger?

Yes, the CTS-V does indeed have a supercharged V-8, but you'd be hard-pressed to know it by listening to the engine. Step on the gas and the most noticeable sound is the burbling exhaust, which quiets down when cruising but still mumbles for the duration of your drive. The CTS-V's Eaton supercharger has four-lobe rotors for performance and quietness, so there's none of the whoosh or moan sounds you may associate with forced-induction engines.

The 6.2-liter V-8 makes 556 hp at 6,100 rpm and 551 pounds-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm. In nearly any other era that would have been an unbelievable amount of power from a production engine, but with the proliferation today of performance cars that make 500 hp or more, it somehow Ч inexplicably Ч seems ordinary. Cadillac says the car can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds.

The CTS-V feels pretty ordinary in everyday driving, too. Our test car had the six-speed automatic transmission, and the coupe accelerated from stoplights with all the refinement you'd expect from a luxury car. Unlike the Chevrolet Corvette's V-8, which shakes the whole car at idle, the supercharged V-8 in the CTS-V has a lump-free idle.

It's partly this refinement that gets in the way of the CTS-V's performance aspirations. In most everyday driving situations, it just doesn't feel like a car with more than 500 hp under its hood. It gets around fine, and highway merging isn't an issue, but when you compare it with a car like the Jaguar XKR, which is powered by a 510-hp, supercharged V-8, the Cadillac's power delivery doesn't have any of the immediacy of the Jag's. The XKR leaves no question as to what's under its hood, while the CTS-V's performance isn't so overt. Perhaps a few laps at a racetrack Ч or a coupe with the manual transmission Ч would rid me of this impression.

The CTS-V wins points for its Brembo brakes. Six-piston calipers grip massive, 15-inch front rotors, and four-piston rear calipers clamp 14.7-inch rotors. The setup provides a level of control not often seen in a production car; the brake pedal is firm and requires that you exert some force to depress it, but the payoff is an ability to fine-tune your stops to a high degree. It's the kind of confidence you'd want to have for a day at the track.

Unfortunately, the regular coupe's brake-pedal feel isn't worthy of praise. It feels spongy and dull, and it doesn't give you a sense of what's happening down at the tires. You might be able to get used to it in time, but there are more satisfying setups elsewhere.

You may have heard the term "range anxiety" tossed about in reference to electric cars, but I experienced it in the CTS-V, too. With an EPA-estimated 12/18 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission and an 18-gallon gas tank, the fuel gauge's needle swings toward empty at a startlingly quick rate. Manual-transmission models get slightly better mileage Ч 14/19 mpg Ч but both versions are subject to a gas-guzzler tax. The regular automatic CTS coupe, by comparison, is rated 18/27 mpg.

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