Quick Drive: 2011 Cadillac CTS-V

By Winding Road Staff

July 20, 2011

Unfortunately for me, I have, far and away, the longest commute of anyone at the Winding Road office in Michigan, especially when it comes to the afternoon rush. Spanning 45 miles, my drive home averages 90 minutes. On a good day, I can make it in an hour. On a bad day, it can be anywhere from two to three hours, depending on traffic and construction (winter is an entirely different issue, where I’ve spent upwards of eight hours commuting for an eight-hour workday). So I spend a lot more time in stop-and-go traffic than either John or Seyth, and therefore, I appreciate a gearbox like the one on the CTS-V just a little bit more than they do.

The CTS-V’s shifting duties are handled by a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual. It’s the same gearbox that is found on the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Even though it’s designed to handle some serious power, it proved to be an extremely friendly transmission. The clutch was surprisingly light and progressive, with an easy to find catch point that made stop-and-go travel a relatively labor-free affair. Granted, the oodles of torque available from the 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 certainly helped us trundle along as well.

The gearbox itself somehow felt more refined and friendlier than what we’ve become used to on Corvettes. It still required some strong-arming, but overall, it was a precise and easy-to-use shifter. I know that the CTS-V isn’t a car that should be limited to crawling around in traffic, but it’s nice to see that a car that is capable of destroying a set of rear tires can be so civilized during the daily slog.

—Brandon Turkus, Test Fleet Manager
Brandon nailed it with the shifting experience. It’s somewhat Corvette-ish, but smoother and easier to work into muscle memory. I really dig the feel of that suede and metal shift knob, too.
One thing I’ve noticed in the CTS-V, and (perhaps only incidentally) more so in the sedan than in the other body styles, it exhibits a strange behavior over loose or wet road surfaces. It seems as if the car glides across the road, with the rear end (and more) wafting side to side. Its something that I only feel through the seat of the pants, and it’s not something I pick up on visually. The traction control light doesn’t blink. It never feels dangerous, because it is kind of subtle, but it is definitely an odd sensation. It’s almost as if, while I’m experiencing it, I’m not sure whether or not anything is actually happening. When other rear-wheel-drive cars get squirrelly, I know it. The CTS-V, though, messes with my head.
Other than that (and the desire for a bit better visibility), I can’t really complain about this car. It’s sexy, fast, fun, and classy. I’m always impressed whenever I sit down inside, and that’s even before I fire up that sultry V-8.
—John Beltz Snyder, Production Editor
-       Burly V-8 powering the rear wheels is the sort of stuff we can’t get enough of
-       Shifting feels good, solid, and natural
-       The interior masterfully blends luxury with sportiness
-       High beltline hampers visibility
-       We wouldn’t mind a little more headroom
-       14/19 mpg is the price you pay for 556 horsepower