The 2019 Cadillac CTS-V: The End of an Era

We feel as if we’re about to write a eulogy here. Yes, on the surface, we’re simply writing about the 2019 Cadillac CTS-V. But the CTS-V is more than a car; it’s a product of passion. It’s a machine that not only revitalized the Cadillac brand, but proved that America could build a world-beating luxury performance car.

And now GM has not only killed the CTS-V — it essentially killed the V brand.

Yes, the same brand that once bragged about its CTS-V being the fastest 4-door sedan on the Nurburgring is now saying that these iconic V cars are too intimidating for the average driver. Rather than beat the alphanumeric super sedans from M and AMG, the new line of V-badged cars would instead prefer to be beaten by a mid-range Audi. And that’s an incredible shame, especially considering that this final CTS-V is one hell of a machine.

Now in its third generation, the current Cadillac CTS-V is an uncompromising love letter to performance. Let’s start with the engine, which of course is massive. It’s a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 rated at 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque. Each nudge of the throttle reminds you that while this Cadillac may have some pretentions of luxury, it’s a muscle car at heart. Is it refined? Well, no, not really. But who cares when this power plant will body slam you to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds as it rockets the car up to its 200-mph top speed.

It takes a lot more than power alone to run those speeds, and Cadillac masterfully mixed art and science when crafting the exterior of the CTS-V. Almost every exterior panel is exclusive to this V-badged sedan, each of which has been designed to help this car keep things planted on the ground. That vented hood, for example, is constructed from carbon fibre to help reduce weight. Its vents not only help to keep the engine cool, but they also extract air in such a way that helps reduce front-end lift. And all those carbon fibre lips and spoilers? Yup — more than just performance bling, they’ve been shaped to further help with airflow management.

Even the wheels have a story to them. Sitting nicely under the Caddy’s bulging fenders, these forged aluminum alloys are light for their size, yet they’re still 45 percent stiffer than the rollers from the previous-gen CTS-V. These are wrapped in super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport tires, which don’t offer much in the way of all-season performance, but when the tarmac is nice and dry, they provide enough grip to help this Cadillac hit 1 g on the skidpad. Brakes are massive units from Brembo, which offer consistent stopping power and plenty of brake dust. And the chassis tuning utilizes GM’s third-generation Magnetic Ride Control components, plus a whole bunch of braces to keep things as racecar-stiff as possible.

And the drive? Well, it’s everything you hope a car like this would be. We’ve already mentioned the aggressive acceleration. But this thing also delivers smiles when the road goes from straight to curved. Though we can tell things are artificially boosted, there’s still a precision to the steering that makes this CTS-V engaging to drive. It’s responsive — much more so than a sedan of this size has any right to be. You still feel its 4,141-pound weight through the curves, sure, but with everything about this car being so overbuilt, pushing things to the limit still makes you feel like you’re bending the laws of physics to your will.

As for the inside, well…it’s a mixed bag. We love the leather-trimmed Recaro seats. They’re ergonomically perfect, hold well, and really drive home the “fighter-jet” feel the CTS-V’s cockpit is going for. As for the rest, it all feels like a standard, non-V Cadillac. Which is to say, it’s nice for a $45,000 base CTS, but not becoming of the six-figure price tag carried by our tester. Oh, and this CTS-V still uses the tragic, last-gen CUE system that no one likes. The fact that newer-generation Cadillacs have ditched the haptic controls in favour of actual buttons shows that Cadillac isn’t a fan of this CUE system, either.

But again, none of this really matters because the Cadillac CTS-V is now dead. In its place will be the CT5-V, which swaps an “S” for a “5,” looks a lot more like an entry-level car, and packs a measly 355-horsepower V6. It’s a shame, because with a few minor tweaks, the CTS-V could have once again made Cadillac the standard of the world. Instead, it will become the answer to the question: “Remember when Cadillac made great cars?

Justin Kaehler
Justin Kaehler is a Los Angeles-based writer, photographer, and auto enthusiast who has been sharing his passion for cars for over 15 years.