Big Time

With the V-Series from Cadillac, GM has sent a valuable message to clients prone to purchasing higher-priced European brands: you don’t have to spend the extra coin to get an extraordinary vehicle.

With the V-Series from Cadillac, GM has sent a valuable message to clients prone to purchasing higher-priced European brands: you don’t have to spend the extra coin to get an extraordinary vehicle.

What might seem a haughty statement from Detroit is, in actuality, quite true. Cadillac V-Series cars, comprised of the CTS-V, XLR-V, and STS-V, bring to consumers exceptionally high levels of performance, quality, luxury, technology and prestige without the excessive price tag. Of them, the STS-V has to be the most interesting, if for no other reason than the fact that so few know it exists.

The STS-V first came to public view in 2005 at the Detroit Auto Show and wowed everyone who saw it. The idea of a performance-minded, full-size Cadillac to battle the BMW M5 and Mercedes E55 (later E63) AMG seemed a great idea, but there was speculation that Cadillac wouldn’t deliver in the execution. But when the first STS-Vs were delivered to the automotive media in late 2005, positive reports on its construction and luxury quickly circulated, as did the news that it was capable of performing with the finest in the world for thousands less.

The interior is roomy and comfortable, yet businesslike and to the point; seats are firmer than most GM offerings, but not offensively so. Rich leathers with exposed stitching abound throughout, and dark ash wood trim is highlighted by tasteful aluminum appointments. The controls are elegant and easy to operate, and the instrument cluster has a machined look to it, nodding to the car’s performance nature. The execution is warmly sophisticated without being stuffy. It’s just comfortable.

Cruising the boulevard in the STS-V is an effortless experience. With 469 horsepower on tap from the supercharged 4.4-liter Northstar V8, legendary for its smooth and linear power delivery, the car quietly rumbles along until it’s time not to be quiet. Make no mistake: when firing up the STS-V, it’s quickly obvious that this isn’t your average Crest and Wreath car. Its throaty burble is much more muscle car than luxury barge, but it doesn’t intrude until the accelerator is smashing the plush carpeting. It’s then that the Northstar’s growl increases to a roar, pulling the nearly 5,000-pound car to 60 miles per hour in under five seconds. The 6-speed automatic shapeshifts almost mythically from a smooth, luxury transmission you’re not even sure is there to a neck-snapping performance module. This can result in such side effects as a massive, ear-to-ear grin, neck hairs standing on end and shivers up the spine.

The beauty of the beast is the absolute control the STS-V provides its pilot. The average driver will never reach the car’s limitations, meaning it will always deliver a respectable, fun ride. Winding along a mountain road, the sheer torque of the V8 ensures that no mountain grade is too great to conquer, and thanks to the highly engineered chassis and suspension, few curves and corners intimidate. If they should dare to try, massive 14-inch Brembo brakes bring the STS-V back down to docile speeds in the blink of an eye. In no time, the Cadillac is tamed down to cruising mode again, quietly and effortlessly making its way through the canyons. Something about Jekyll and Hyde comes to mind with the STS-V.

While the imports each offer exceptional performance, quality, refinement and prestige, the Cadillac STS-V brings those same qualities to the game without the excessive level of hype. Having the ability to terrify any of the aforementioned performance sedans on a twisty road or in light-to-light combat is more than fun; it’s an absolute blast. Most drivers of the performance-bred import crowd never expect a Cadillac to be able to hang with them, let alone in many cases, better their car’s performance. Repeating the less-is-more mantra, keeping control of subtlety and not attracting unwanted attention speak volumes, and this is a welcome quality of the STS-V. Outside, the only telltale signs of the capabilities behind the STS-V are the mesh grille, bulged hood, larger than average rims and tires, subtle lip spoiler on the trunk and, of course, the exhaust note. Otherwise, to the untrained eye, the STS-V looks pretty much like a standard Cadillac STS, which, given the superior performance and luxurious legacy, is a very good thing.


2009 Cadillac STS-V
Specifications*

BODY:
Material…Steel, composite
Overall Length…196.7 in.
Overall Width…72.6 in.
Height…57.6 in.
Wheelbase…116.4 in.
Curb Weight…4,200 lbs.
Weight distribution (fr/rr)…55/45

MECHANICALS:
Transmission…6-speed automatic
Engine…4.4-liter (264 cid) supercharged V8
Horsepower…469
Torque…439

TIRES:
FR…P255/45R18
RR…P275/40R19

PERFORMANCE:
0-62 MPH…4.8 seconds
Top Speed…150 (est.)

*Manufacturer informational claims
 


Test drive yours at Penske Cadillac Hummer South Bay, 18600 S. Hawthorne Boulevard in Torrance. 310-697-1800, penskehummer.com.

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