Test Drive: Cadillac CTS has crisp handling

“That Caddy pulled over and let us by,” goes the old song “Hot Rod Lincoln.” This Caddy — the 2018 CTS 3.6L TT V-Sport — seldom will be compelled to pull over and let anyone by, with the exception of Cadillac’s 640-horsepower CTS V-Sport with the 6.2-liter, 640-horsepower supercharged V-8. A few European sport sedans also could give both CTS speedsters a run.

Cadillacs have sported big, powerful engines for many decades, but for most of those years, their boat-like dimensions, handling and weight limited their ability to claim sports-car status. In recent years, however, General Motors’ premium brand has redefined itself, shedding its luxury liners in favor of luxurious sport-utility vehicles and midsize sedans. Today, just two sedans wear the Cadillac nameplate — the compact ATS and midsize CTS.

The car we tested was a Stellar Black Metallic CTS V-Sport that would have been recognizable as a Cadillac to a time traveler from the 1950s, thanks to its many familiar styling cues. Powered by a twin-turbo, 420-horsepower V-6, it produced a delicious rumble that never altogether went away.

There’s a CTS for every preference. The base model is powered by a 268-horsepower turbocharged inline Four, followed up the power scale by a normally aspirated 335-horsepower V-6. Together with the two V-sport engines, that’s four different power options in the same 4-door sedan body. The base model starts at $46,495. Our test car had a sticker price of $76,210.

The V-sport’s personality is resoundingly European. It’s one of the sweetest-handling cars we’ve driven, with exceptional road feel, balance and cornering ability. Its ride is somewhat less firm than that of the Mercedes-Benz sport sedans we’ve tested, but it handles just as crisply.

In some respects, the CTS V-Sport falls short of the Cadillacs of old. Its back seat is cramped, and the trunk holds just 13.7 cubic feet of luggage. Moreover, the trunk is deep and narrow. Loading groceries into the Cadillac in Danbury, Conn., we found it nearly impossible for adults of average height to make use of all the available space, owing to the depth of the trunk.

In addition to a full range of safety systems, the CTS has the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment setup. It works well and is quite user-friendly. We were surprised to discover that the system, with no prompting from us, was able to read aloud the text messages we were receiving one evening. Our main beef with the car’s infotainment and climate systems was a lack of redundancy: Drivers and passengers had to operate the touch-activated controls. Older drivers may prefer to be able to choose familiar dials and buttons.

CTS models have done well in government crash tests, but not so well on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s tough small-overlap frontal test. The institute also gave the CTS poor marks for headlight projection.

2018 Cadillac CTS 3.6L TT V-Sport

Price: $76,210

Engine: 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6, 420 horsepower, 433 lb.-ft torque

Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic

Drive: rear-wheel

Weight: 3,992 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear

Wheels: 17-in. Ultra-bright machined aluminum with dark pockets

Tires: P245/40R18 summer run-flat

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 13.7 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 19 gallons

Fuel economy: 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway

Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline

Steven Macoy ([email protected]) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.

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