CORNWALL, N.Y. — Anyone can make a good car for $100,000 or more. I’m more impressed when it’s done for less than that — which raises another question.
If it is possible to buy a good or even excellent automobile for substantially less than $100,000, is it really worth it to spend more?
After a week in the 2014 Cadillac CTS-V coupe, driving the roads between this pleasant Hudson Valley town and the congested rudeness of New York City, a round trip of about 130 miles, my answer is a resounding “No!”
What do exotic, outrageously expensive high-performance cars have that this second generation of the Cadillac CTS-V coupe doesn’t? Is it power? No. The new coupe comes with a Corvette ZR1-derived supercharged gasoline V-8 delivering 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque.
Do you really need more power than that? What for? To be stuck in traffic on New York’s always-bumper-to-bumper-jammed FDR Drive, or on the Washington area’s perennially congested Capital Beltway? I don’t think so.
What about handling — the agility and confidence with which a car behaves around tight curves, along undulating mountain roads, the way it keeps its composure in crowded yet fast highway traffic? My take: The CTS-V meets or beats its more exotic rivals there, too. It is one of the tightest, most responsive automobiles I have ever driven, thanks largely to the application of what General Motors, Cadillac’s parent company, calls Magnetic Ride Control.
Imagine that you are in a car with sensors/eyes that see the road you are traveling — all of its twists, turns and imperfections; imagine that it does this 1,000 times per second and just as quickly adjusts the car’s chassis to best handle those rapidly varying circumstances. In the new CTS-V coupe, the experience is quite real. The result is a smooth, comfortable ride without any sacrifice of performance.
If you worship speed, you can move from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds in the CTS-V. But, assuming that you are driving in a community that requires a sense of balance, one that expects automobiles to stop as quickly as they can move, the CTS-V coupe is up to that task, too. The car comes with high-performance Brembo brakes.
How quickly you stop, of course, depends on how fast you are driving. The Brembo brakes will slow you down quickly if you are in exceptional violation of the law but, alas, not quickly enough to avoid rousing the ire of watchful traffic-enforcement officials.
Consider the CTS-V coupe an art piece. It is a chiseled, motorized diamond, beautiful in presentation inside and out, impractical in the real world in terms of its overall performance capabilities and maintenance demands (premium gasoline, please, and don’t forget the $1,300 federal gas-guzzler tax levied because it fails to meet a combined city/highway mileage rating of 22.5 miles per gallon). The CTS-V coupe gets 14 miles per gallon in the city and 19 on the highway.
But the car remains a darling to its demographic group — the estimated 5 percent of the U.S. population who can comfortably (without endangering housing, food, utility or health-care budgets) afford an automobile costing $60,000 or more.
I am not in that 5 percent. But I am thankful to be of service to those of you who are. I am paid to drive all of these automobiles and tell you about them, as best I can. I happily recommend this one.