Since its introduction in 2004, the Cadillac CTS-V has found fans all over the world. A rival of General engines to BMW’s M and Mercedes’ AMG with a massive V8 and nothing but a manual transmission, the car sold in few enough numbers to attract a steadfastly loyal enthusiast. However, after three generations, Cadillac replaced the car with the acclaimed CT5-V, which we love, for the 2020 model year.
Which is a shame, because a great badge in the performance world, the CTS-V pits American might against established luxury rivals to deliver a uniquely enjoyable experience behind the wheel. But now that production of the car has ended, that only makes it more attractive to buy, and you absolutely must get one.
10/10 It has the power
Since its debut in 2004, the CTS-V has always had monstrous power from Corvette-derived engines. The first generation had a 5.7-liter V8 that delivered 400 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque, using the LT2 Corvette powertrain. The second generation of the car increased power to 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft of torque with the engine from the then outgoing Corvette ZR1.
Until its demise in 2019, the last generation used the ZO6 Corvette’s engine to deliver 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque. That compares to the 2019 BMW M3, which delivered 473 horsepower but rose just above 500 horsepower in Competition trim.
9/10 It sounds great
Those great engines make a great sound in their respective Corvettes and an almost better sound in the CTS-Vs. The last generation used an “engine sound management system” to make the car sound in race mode the growl and splatter of the race version.
Always fitted with a naturally aspirated engine and the option of a lifetime manual transmission further improved the sound.
8/10 It can handle a race track
With a 0-60 time dropping from 4.9 seconds to 3.9 seconds over the length of the model run and a top speed going from 160 mph to over 200, the Cadillac performed seriously in a straight line.
Although the car was not designed to drive in the same way as its German rivals, it could still find its way around a race track. While Car and Driver said the first generation acted like a “smart delinquent…never dull”, Cadillac managed to turn that into a race car. And subsequent generations even made a match for the Germans on a track.
7/10 It’s a pure driving experience
Cadillac has always intended the CTS-V to provide a more exciting driving experience than its German rivals. From the first generation, with less intrusive driving aids and a mandatory manual transmission, to the last generation that kept the manual option alive with torque to avoid burnouts, the car has always been focused more on fun than on track times.
Still, since the second generation, the car has been equipped with optional steering wheel paddle shifters and advanced computer-assisted driving aids to help each driver maximize their own performance. Cadillac has also offered driver training for the same purpose.
6/10 A range of body styles are available
The CTS-V wagon has its own enthusiastic following, although a coupé was also available from the second-generation sedan base. However, every other generation offered only the sedan variant, even though prototype cars were made for the first generation.
The CTS-V Sportwagon, with V8 engine and manual gearbox, will always remain popular with enthusiasts and continue to sell well.
5/10 It’s the ultimate sleeper
With a Corvette V8 under the hood, but the looks of a standard luxury cruiser Cadillac, the CTS-V has always been a performance sleeper car: capable of surprising with its performance. For those of us who want more subtle power, Cadillac has built the perfect answer. Even later versions with aerodynamic and aggressive styling still look like any stock Cadillac to most drivers.
The wagon version might just be the ultimate sleeper. While fast wagons like the RS6 Avant are gaining popularity in the United States, most drivers don’t expect to be caught at the lights by a station wagon, regardless of decal.
4/10 The rarity appeals to real enthusiasts
The CTS-V is a rare car. With many years of production, even the small numbers add up, but they are small sales figures: The best production year was 2011 when Cadillac moved just 5,704 cars across all three variants. Interestingly, the coupe sold best that year, with the car selling just 395 units in total for the year.
According to data from the V-net forum, only 36,481 CTS-Vs were ever made for the world during a 15-year production run. That’s about as many Corollas as Toyota makes in one month, and almost equal to what the ever-unpopular Pontiac Aztec sold in its best year. So it is a rare car that is special to own.
3/10 The interior feels smooth
Cadillac’s interior designers wanted to create a modern layout from the start, also making extensive use of Alcantara. The first generation has been rightly criticized for a typical GM plastic layout, but that layout is more modern than contemporary sports sedans and has held up well.
The second and third generations largely fixed the plastic (Car and Driver called it “a huge improvement over the previous CTS-V). With glossy finishes and fine leather, it may have been lifted almost straight out of a standard CTS, but it’s a nice place to spend time.
2/10 It’s a good price
The original model CTS-V started at $49,300, which is about $73k today. In excellent condition, Edmunds reports that a 2004 model costs about seven thousand dollars. With the same equivalent value as the original value, the 2009 model started at $58,575. They can be found in good condition for $25,000.
The final version raised the price to over $100,000 in full-spec equipment, with many expensive options in seats, brakes, and performance packages. For the first time, the last generation matched its German rivals in price, but met them in equipment and performance.
1/10 There are plenty of generations to choose from
The first generation was unveiled for the 2004 model year and the car was discontinued in 2019, with three generations in between. The first and second generations rode Cadillac’s Sigma platform alongside other Cadillac models of the time, while the third generation used a modified version of GM’s Alpha platform, which still forms the basis of the Camaro and the replacement CT5.
The direction of the car also changed over the generations: While it was initially intended to be a niche salesman to help Cadillac regain some market share in terms of performance, it earned its place and eventually outperformed are German rivals nearby, even surpassing them. the track because it focused on handling and performance.