Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

27 01 2010

Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

Preface

Team Hall & Nass recently attended the Cadillac Culinary Media Tour, an event for select members of the Texas automotive media to experience what life is like for the “typical” Cadillac owner. At the event, we got a little crazy. Alongside of our good friends Charlie and Nick from Burnout Radio (@BurnoutRadio on Twitter), we managed to get behind the wheel of a brand new 2010 CTS-V Sedan and put it though some real world driving paces. What transpired once we “commandeered” the CTS-V was most likely not typical of many Cadillac owners, especially in rush hour traffic, unless your name just happens to be Andy Pilgrim.

While the CTS-V was just one of the Cadillacs we experienced at the event, we had so much to say about our impression of driving this particular machine that simply including those thoughts in one section of our overall event blog post(s) wouldn’t do. Plus, as an added bonus, we filmed all the action of our Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio ride and drive critique with not one, but two cameras. We’ll circle back to that in a bit.

After you read this post, we also encourage you to read our companion two-part blog post titled “Team Hall & Nass Preview the 2010 Cadillac Lifestyle, Parts 1 & 2.” Within those posts you will learn more about the overall event, how we managed to “steal the V” and what happened when we got busted for it!

So, without further adieu, we hope you enjoy our impression of what life is like behind the wheel of the “fastest V8 production sedan in the world.”

Describing the 2010 CTS-V Sedan

There are many words I could use to describe what driving the CTS-V is like, but few would truly do the car justice. If you’re a fan of the car, then no doubt, you’ve already heard the big numbers it puts up. But just in case you haven’t, I’ll share them with you here (from memory, no less). GMs supercharged all aluminum LSA small block making 556 horsepower at the flywheel and generating 551 foot pounds of torque. Six piston Brembo calipers out front, four piston Brembos out back. A six speed manual transmission (or, in the case of our media car, a six-speed automatic). 0-60 in 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 198 miles per hour (limited to 175 miles per hour in the automatic). The list goes on and on, but those are the baseline things you need to know.

I’d love to tell you all about the amazing interior of the car, the many creature comforts, the styling, the details, and all that jazz. Truth is, due to the nature of the event, we had to grab it and go. From that point on, all I did was adjust the mirrors, the seat, the wheel and drive. I’m sure it has amazing ergonomics that I could go on and on about. We just didn’t have time to fully experience all of that. Perhaps if we’re very lucky we’ll get more hands on time with a CTS-V sometime again real soon so we can take our time and explore all of the details. I, for one, would like to explore the driver information system and get detailed on the types of real time vehicle performance and operation information available to the driver, how it is accessed and the manner in which it is displayed. But like I said, there wasn’t time for all of that. We had to grab it, take it, and just drive it. After all, isn’t how it drives what you want to know about this car anyway? Yeah, we thought so.

Driving the 2010 CTS-V Sedan

First things first. No, sadly, we didn’t get to test top end or downforce effects at sustained higher end speeds. I know, I know. However, even though we were unfortunately stuck in horrific rush hour traffic, we still managed to have some fun. This car is so viciously quick on the throttle (and the brakes) that you can drop back and then fill up the hole in the flow faster than anyone else can realize there was ever an opening to contemplate getting into. Want to break triple digits inside a long city block? This car will do it. Want to light the tires on fire? HA! As amazing as the traction control system is (truly, it’s that good), melting rubber is still easy to achieve at any speed. Just plant your right foot and hold on! Want to elicit shock, disbelief and awe from a new Porsche 911 owner (and his passenger) by merely letting him hear the sound of the engine revving? Been there, done that.

Since we did have to navigate some very heavy rush hour traffic and a few side roads in between discovering (or creating) patches of clean road to enjoy, the entire drive was treated as a rolling interview. If you’re familiar with the regular podcasts done by Burnout Radio, then you know what to expect. However, if you’re not, then know that we discussed and critiqued the car on the fly for the entire ride. It helps that both Charlie and I like the sound of our own voices as well, but hey! That’s a whole other story (way too long to post on here)!

Keeping the Power on the Pavement

Former Indy 500 winner and current Rally X driver Kenny Brack did an excellent job at the 2009 Summer X Games of reminding everyone in the racing and extreme sports world of a very simple, but long held, principle in the world of motorsports. Tire smoke and drifting a car sure looks cool, but every second your wheels are not in solid contact with the pavement, you’re not putting maximum power to the ground. Thus, you’re losing time. Remember, all the horsepower in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t make the tires put the power on the pavement.

The aforementioned traction control system is beyond amazing on the CTS-V. With 556 horsepower on tap, you would expect the car to be near impossible to drive hard without it constantly breaking the tires loose. Wrong. Even when I tried to powerslide it out of the parking lot, it held the pavement amazingly well and launched us forward. Sure, we slid a little, but not like we would have if I’d have turned the traction controls off.

It also doesn’t hurt anything that the car comes equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport tires, either. Yes, the same rubber found on the Corvette ZR1 and on any serious sports car owner’s rims that values supreme street traction over high replacement costs. They’re so sticky, they are almost like having racing tires for the street.

Driving this car is in many ways comparable to driving the 505 horsepower Chevrolet Corvette Z06. In fact, I’ve stated publicly (many times) that the CTS-V Sedan is a lot like a Z06, just with two extra doors and a back seat for ten grand less. It definitely shares that immediate rush of endless power and torque that will propel the car forward at a rate most people have never felt, and frankly, that many can’t handle.

Is it that quick? Yes. It pins you back deep into the seats as if you’ve been shot out of a cannon. The car accelerates as quickly as a big block Chevelle that can pick its front tires up off the ground. In fact, it takes off just as well from a standing start as it does rolling along at 70 mph (or greater). Just point, aim and shoot! But how does it corner? Does it feel nimble when you throw it around or does it feel like a big, heavy sedan? The answer, in every category we experienced, was you quickly forget you are in a sedan. It didn’t take me long to go into Corvette mentality.

However, a key difference between the Caddy and the Z06 Corvette is that you can put the power to the ground a lot quicker and keep it planted throughout the first three gears in the CTS-V. I’m talking wide open throttle. In a Z06, um, well, without racing tires or launch control, not so much. No matter how skilled you are, launch a Z06 at wide open throttle and most of that power goes up in tire smoke. Very expensive tire smoke. Shift and repeat, shift and repeat again. Needless to say, I strongly believe the Z06 should come from Chevrolet wearing Pilot Sports as well (ahem, if you’re listening GM, please and thank you).

Another interesting point is that while the CTS-V has 51 more horsepower than a Z06, it also weighs roughly a thousand pounds more. Those extra pounds probably help keep the rear tires planted when you dig into the throttle. Yet even with the extra weight helping with traction, you’d still expect a car with 551 foot pounds of torque to be a handful to drive. It’s not. But don’t let that lull you into comfort, either. One good stab of the throttle at the wrong time, in a curve or on wet pavement, can (and eventually will) override any traction system that’s trying to save you from yourself.

However, while the amount of “hold back” or “saving grace” of the system almost defies physics, it also lets you have enough freedom to thoroughly enjoy the massive power of the car without feeling overly restricted (at least on the street). There were clearly more engineering hours devoted to this area than the guys in the white jackets will likely ever get credit for. To all of them, we say it here. Kudos!

Key Difference in Driving a CTS-V Sedan Versus a Traditional Sports Car

With all this talk of horsepower, traction, acceleration, etc., it’s almost easy to forget what car we are talking about or why we were invited to this event. The point was to experience what life is like for a “typical” Cadillac owner. So in that spirit, I offer this explanation of (at least in my mind) what is likely the key difference most operators will experience between driving their CTS-V Sedan and driving a two-door sports car.

When you purchase a sports car of any similar performance level, you are more likely to drive it on twisty back roads or on a track than to go, say, pick up the groceries. You go into the purchase expecting it to behave like a sports car. Therefore, every time you strap into it, you mentally prepare yourself for what you are about to do behind the wheel and how you plan to do it. At least, we hope.

However, when you purchase a Cadillac, even the uber fast CTS-V Sedan, you may expect it to be fast, but you also have to keep in mind that most of these customers will probably be driving it to dinner, the airport, the opera, etc., far more often than in a competition-type setting. So, unless the owner actually understands what driving a 556 horsepower car is like (which few people really, truly do), then you don’t want them to unpleasantly “surprise” themselves too often. They aren’t going to think “race car” when they strap in each time. In fact, more often than not, they are going to think pedestrian thoughts. It’s a different approach to entering a similarly capable supercar animal.

So while on the one hand, having a 556 horsepower sedan is the coolest thing on earth, you also have to remember that Cadillac is charged with serving it up in a package that is much more civilized than a race car, enabling function to match form. This is another area where the traction control system on this car is phenomenal and key to the safety of the car. It keeps the car planted and in control in situations where cars of similar power to weight ratio would be sideways and/or all over the road, enabling you to drive your kids to school, your significant other to dinner, or even making a run to the grocery store, all without (as much) constant threat of getting sideways or taking out the guardrail. Essentially, it is as much about preventative safety and going “slow enough” as it is about putting down power and going “fast enough.”

Sometimes it’s hard to remember, but the CTS-V Sedan was not built to be a race car, per se (just don’t tell Andy Pilgrim that). It was built to be a luxurious daily driver. It is a car that most “typical” Cadillac owners, with a little bit of diligence and common sense, can probably handle driving everyday without fear. Though a little healthy fear wouldn’t hurt (just saying)!

Extreme Stealth Value

One of the key attributes that I’m fairly certain Cadillac or GM is not likely to tout (but that this car delivers buckets of) is what we like to call “stealth value.” That is, to the untrained eye (which includes roughly 98% or more of the general populace), the CTS-V Sedan blends in. Especially if you order yours in a non-flashy color (such as white, silver or charcoal). On face value alone, it looks like a typical Cadillac family sedan.

What? But why oh why would anyone want their awesome hot rod Caddy to blend in? Two words – Hamthrax evasion. You see, no one expects this car to take off like a rocket ship or to be comfortably cruising down the interstate at triple digits. Not that most of you would do that very often (yeah, riiight).

Even for those who like to drive at 20 over the limit (or so) but are always concerned about getting pinched by the Hamthrax (ahem, any color Corvette + speed = instant attention), this car offers the perfect solution. Cops aren’t looking for family sedans. They are looking for the guy in the Corvette, the Camaro, or those other high horsepower coupes that are all trying to slip under the radar … and failing miserably.

In these times of empty state coffers, the fuzz are out in force, going after the easy revenue now more than ever. But if you factor in potential savings over the life of the car by avoiding tickets and insurance rate increases, that “stealth value” could really add up to substantial savings in operating costs! Hey, Team Hall & Nass is just looking out for you! It’s what Pirate Pig, our Hamthrax-avoiding mascot, likes for us to do. Viva la Pirate Pig! :@)~

Easy to Lose Yourself In

After enjoying the CTS-V far longer than we probably should have, but not nearly as long as we’d have liked to, the moment came to return the car. A few miles before reaching our destination, the Four Season Resort in Las Colinas, I handed over the controls of the car to Charlie. He got to do a few hard launches from the lights and dove on the brakes plenty, but not much in the way of speed runs. There was too much traffic!

For the record, I do feel bad for hogging up the majority of the drive time. Feel bad for Charlie, that is. Honestly, I was enjoying driving this car so much that had he not reminded me to pull over and switch off, the thought of getting out of the car would have never occurred to me. Sorry Charlie!

The one thing Charlie got to do that was a real defining moment on our drive (and on the video) is when we pulled up at a light behind a new Porsche 911. With a little encouragement from me, Charlie put the Caddy into neutral and cleaned the throttle out a couple of times. What played out in front of us was priceless. First, the heads of both the driver and the passenger immediately jerked up and around. Then, the driver reached for his rearview mirror, adjusted it, and we could actually see his eyeballs bulge in the mirror’s reflection. That’s right, bud. That deep roar that just shook you and your Porsche to its very core? Yeah, that came out from under the hood of the Cadillac sedan parked on your rear bumper. The reaction was priceless! This is not your mother’s Cadillac. This is the big bad wolf in sheep’s clothing that is going to outrun the whole flock (and your grandmother too).

In Summary

We love the CTS-V. It’s the first sedan ever considered truly worthy of the Team Hall & Nass garage. In fact, given how we typically drive (even on a daily basis), it is probably the best overall car for us to own. It is so much more than just (as stated by Cadillac themselves) “the fastest production V8 sedan in the world.” We believe it is also “the most fun you can have in a car with four doors. Period.”

However, we’d really like to spend a full day (or a few) behind the wheel where we can explore the capabilities and characteristics of the car somewhere other than in Dallas rush hour traffic. I could spend at least a few hours just examining the interior features of the car and plenty of time under the hood as well. There is really just so much car there for the money. At $70,000 and change (very well equipped) that’s a tall order, but this is one of those rare cars that can deliver loads of performance and value for the big price tag.

It’s no secret that we hold the C6 Corvette platform up as our personal standard for what any performance car should be like. While that may seem unfair to many, in this case, it is not, as this is a true and worthy competitor to all four flavors of the current C6.

If the car is missing anything, we only have one request. Bring back the ducks on the Cadillac emblem. Only this time around, put them in a V formation. The Cadillac CTS-V. It doesn’t just quack, it honks!

In summary, the best thing we can say (other than we want one) is this: You don’t have to ask if this car will return the favor. Just save the “after smoke” for the tires.

“We’re SO Not Worthy … THANK YOU GM”

Though we said this in both parts of our Cadillac Lifestyle posts, and it certainly bears repeating again here. We’d like to publicly thank Donna McLallen (@GMTexas on Twitter), Vicki Cosgrove and everyone on the GM South Central US Team for being kind enough (and crazy enough) to invite us to this event. Without their kind, good faith invitation, we wouldn’t be able to bring you, the wonderful fans and followers of Team Hall & Nass, this incredible tale to enjoy. We owe you a big one (as well as some brake pads linings and perhaps a bit of tire tread too …)!

Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass Cadillac Week coverage thus far. Tune in tomorrow for what may be our most exciting post of the week, titled, “Team Hall & Nass and Burnout Radio CTS-V Sedan Drive – Caught on Camera(s).” It’s a post of few words … well, of the written variety. Remember the two video cameras I mentioned at the top of this post? That’s right! Better dig out your driving gloves, zip up that fire suit and tighten down those belts. You’re going with us on a wild and crazy ride!

Due to new FTC guidelines, please note that GM didn’t pay us to write any of this, nor did they ask us to. (After reading some of this, they may even prefer that we hadn’t!). They simply provided dinner and access to their cars and, in turn, we had the “Cadillac” of experiences. We sincerely thank everyone at GM and Cadillac South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

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4 responses

27 01 2010
GM Gearbox Magazine | Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

[…] tq family sedan. Anyway, head over to The Automotive Adventures of Team Hall & Nass for the dirty details of their fling with the new 2010 CTS-V. If you enjoyed the article, please share it with a […]

28 01 2010
GEARBOX MAGAZINE Team Hall & Nass Review the 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

[…] tq family sedan. Anyway, head over to The Automotive Adventures of Team Hall & Nass for the dirty details of their fling with the new 2010 […]

28 01 2010
adam

Good post! That car does look amazing, cant wait to drive one. The video from burnout radio was good with yall too.

Good stuff!

28 01 2010
Screwed Up Texan

Enjoyed the read and the adventure! Thank you for sharing all the great info!

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