Quick Drive: 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

By Winding Road Staff

January 24, 2011

The CTS Coupe may not rip as hard as the V version, but that’s just fine. It is still really good.  The rear wheels will still break loose just a little during takeoff, and power seems to come to a crescendo in the middle part of the rev range. The ride is still comfortable and smooth, with relative quiet, but when pushed a bit, the CTS is not afraid to get aggressive. Shifts could come a little quicker from the steering-wheel-mounted buttons—and I’d still prefer proper paddles—but it’s not a slouch, and will shift cleanly through the gears as long as you pay close attention, or just let it shift on its own.
The interior is also nice and comfortable, and suitably toned down from the V. There’s less wood grain and stitching in view, which makes it feel a little more mature. My one complaint is that rear visibility is lacking in the Coupe. The rear window is small, and the blind spots are sizeable. Still, view—particularly forward view—is much better than in the Chevrolet Camaro.
Is it problematic that I have trouble talking about the CTS Coupe without comparing it to the CTS-V? I don’t think so. In this case, holding it to that high standard isn’t a real letdown. Even in light of the V, I still really enjoy driving the regular CTS.
—John Beltz Snyder, Production Editor
I attended the launch of the CTS Coupe this past summer. That event was in and around Napa in California, meaning I drove in perfect weather and on roads that were far more technical and challenging than the average stuff we drive in Michigan. That’s relevant, because I found the CTS to be a far different car, one that I enjoyed driving a lot more, here in the pot-holed Midwest than I did on the sunny West Coast.
There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • Cadillac’s V-6 engine feels powerful and sounds good when you’re able to run it out. That’s easier to do in a natural way when you’re driving on straighter, more open roads than when you’re on very tight, low-speed roads. This is augmented by the fact that the transmission isn’t super quick to react, which makes one less likely to shift around to find optimal revs in each corner, but doesn’t really matter when you’re just blasting down the highway.
  • The suspension feels “too soft” when you’re really cornering hard, but becomes “just right” in terms of a sporting/luxurious compromise on differently surfaced roads.
  • Steering has just enough heft to make the Coupe track straight, very easily, at highway speeds. The car doesn’t wander a lot on the freeway, which makes me feel like it would be very well suited to long-distance driving, or long commuting.
  • Even considering #3, you still have a decent amount of road-feel through the wheel, so you’re not totally divorced from what’s happening under the tires.

—Seyth Miersma, Editor-In-Chief
Good balance of comfort and sport in the ride characteristics
A very attractive design—expect people to notice this car, and comment positively

A good package for grand touring and everyday driving
This isn’t a sports car, don’t expect to drive it as such
Automatic transmission is fine when left in D, but you won’t want to shift with wheel-mounted “buttons” much

Visibility leaves a little to be desired