It’s hard to build a luxury car that also wants to be sporty. Sacrifices must be made somewhere in order to deliver both, whether it’s pulling back on the fancy stuff (which can jack up the price and the curb weight) or softening up the sport.
The Cadillac CTS V-Sport is not the most bonkers CTS there is — that’s what theis for. The V-Sport sacrifices some of the CTS-V’s outright performance insanity in favor of a more sedate, pleasant experience. But make no mistake — this is still a sporty option, and it shows in the ride quality.
But the V-Sport is more than just a good engine and a chassis that likes to play hard. Like many other late-model GM vehicles, it’s a technological marvel, equipped with safety systems and a brand-new infotainment system that addresses most, if not all of the system’s previous shortcomings. It’s the whole package, and provided you don’t mind some of the sacrifices on the luxury side, you should walk away pleased with this one.
Pretty but not a game-changer, especially inside
Make no mistake, the current Cadillac CTS is a looker. The front end is a melange of straight lines that manage to flow rearward without adding too many sharp angles to the side. The rear is a little more anonymous, but the package is cohesive and it earned more than a few compliments during my weeklong loan.
That said, this car has been in production since the 2014 model year, and is thus looking a little old compared to flashy new competitors such as the redesignedand . The CTS is a good car on its own, but being in a segment with a bunch of newer designs puts it at a slight disadvantage.
The interior is a mixed bag. The design is sleek and modern but I have some qualms with the material quality, especially on the center console and around the infotainment screen — it just doesn’t feel like it’s worth the V-Sport’s $70,000 base price. Nearly every color is some sort of black or gray. This leads to a feeling of drab claustrophobia, as the center console is rather high and separates the driver into his or her own tight little cockpit.
This is the point in my review where I remind not only Cadillac, but all automakers that piano-black trim is not fancy. It collects dust and fingerprints like a magnet, which leads to a well-worn look within a few short trips. Please… no more.
The shining beacon of awesome in the CTS V-Sport is a pair of optional Recaro front seats. Part of a $3,000 aesthetics package, the Recaros (borrowed from the CTS-V) are insanely comfortable and can be configured to fit drivers and passengers large and small. I want all cars to come with these seats. As for the rear seats, they’re surprisingly tight for a larger luxury car, especially for passengers over six feet tall.
Infotainment: From zero to hero
I’m not going to mince words here: The previous iteration of CUE (Cadillac User Experience) sucked. It was ugly, it was slow and just about every critic panned it. But that doesn’t matter anymore, because there’s a new CUE, and it’s actually amazing.
We’re covering CUE 2: Electric Boogaloo in depth in a standalone story, so I’ll be brief here. The new user interface is snappy and attractive, the navigation map takes almost no time to render, and a new user-based system allows for a massive amount of personalization, down to suggested navigation routes. It’ll start out on this 2017.5 CTS, making its way to other Cadillac vehicles over the course of years, so patience is a virtue here. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included.
Otherwise, the CTS V-Sport is still quite the technological marvel. GM’s excellent OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot provided seemingly undefeatable reception, even when my cell phone was struggling. The digital Full Display Mirror uses the backup camera to effectively eliminate rear blind spots, even with a full backseat. Its change in angle takes some getting used to, and precipitation can obscure the camera’s view, but it’s nice to have the option, and you can still use the FDM like a regular rearview mirror if preferred.
The V-Sport’s Premium Luxury trim comes standard with Driver Assist Package, which comprises full-speed adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking. The auto-braking system didn’t come on unnecessarily early, and the adaptive cruise control worked well, without lots of weight shifting under acceleration or braking. As with many other large-ish cars, having parking sensors is all but a necessity.