Performance sedan lovers still get a frisson of excitement, a rush of endorphins, at the mere mention of Cadillac’s fire-breathing CTS-V rocket ship.
Here was a thundering, tire-frying, heart-palpitating projectile packing a mighty 640-hp supercharged V8 so full of fury it needed a government health warning.
Alas, the last CTS-V rolled off the production line a year ago, leaving Germany’s big guns – the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 S – to carry the hairy-chested performance sedan torch.
Now you’d be forgiven for thinking that Cadillac’s 2020 CT5-V would be the spiritual successor to that much-adored CTS-V.
It carries the same iconic “V” badge, and looks the part with its big wheels, racy-red brake calipers, sporty spoilers and power-bulged hood.
But no. It’s actually a replacement for the old, less potent CTS V-Sport. The true CTS-V successor is tipped to land next year and be titled CT5-V Blackwing. Expect a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 and 650-plus ponies.
So is this wannabe CT5-V worthy of your love, attention and hard-earned Benjamins? Actually, yes.
If truth be told, the old CTS-V had waaay too much power for mere mortals looking for some driving fun on their daily commute (remember those?).
What the 5-V offers is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 packing 360-hp and 405 muscley lb-ft of torque. Coupled to a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic, it’s one still-potent package designed to excite rather than terrorize.
Fire it up, dial-up “Sport” mode, and punch it. Off the line it rushes away like Usain Bolt out of the blocks, accompanied by a raspiest of exhausts. It doesn’t matter that the sound is piped through the car’s rear-seat speakers, it’s fun.
Also fun is the Caddy’s ability to rush from zero to 60mph in just 4.8 seconds. That’s fast.
Perhaps more relevant is the V-5’s ability to pull out and surge past that lumbering 18-wheeler, or charge out of a freeway on-ramp and merge into fast-moving traffic.
And with fast-reacting magnetic-ride dampers at each corner, along with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport rubberware, the V-5 is a true thrill-ride when the blacktop gets twisty.
Power into a turn, feel the precision of the electric-assist steering, the grip of those 19-inch Michelins, the tautness of the suspension. Wow, this is a blast.
Yes, the ride can feel a little busy, especially in “Sport” mode. But it’s in keeping with the car’s athletic mission. And it’s never uncomfortable, even when a tire bangs into a pothole.
If there’s one criticism, it’s the potency of those Brembo front brakes. Yes, their performance is spectacular when you’re standing on the pedal at 100mph. These are brakes that will stop time.
But in stop-start city driving, they feel way too sensitive and grabby. Trust me, if your passenger is sipping a Starbucks when you tap the pedal, it’s going on the floor.
Design-wise it certainly looks the part of the performance sedan. That assertive front-end is a sea of glossy-black mesh, with a grille and lower intake big enough to swallow small pets.
It has a racy rear as well, with that distinctive trunk-lid spoiler and lower diffuser with its quartet of squared-off exhausts.
Sadly the car’s interior doesn’t match the sporty exterior. In fact it’s little changed from the base CT5. The only hint to its “V” character is the addition of magnesium paddle shifters and brushed-alloy pedals.
But the interior oozes with quality and there’s a huge amount of space inside, especially in the rear which feels positively limo-like.
Where this CT5-V scores big however is in its pricing. The well-equipped base model sells for just $48,690, which dramatically undercuts the German competition, like BMW’s M340i, Audi S4 and the Mercedes-AMG C43.
That’s a great price for such all-round performance goodness. I’ll give it a V for value.