The rise of the sport sedan happened in the 1980s but it really didn't kick off until BMW introduced a vehicle that was largely considered a game changer. Called the M5, it was a midsize luxury sedan that packed a bit of a punch. At the time it provided well-heeled executives the opportunity to blow off some steam with a sports car-like experience on their way home from the office, but they could chauffeur the kids around town should they need to take them to soccer practice.

It was the best of both worlds.

Cadillac CTS-V

Fast forward to today and now we're swimming in sport sedans. Just about every luxury automaker has a high-performance sport sedan for sale. For a buyer, there's quite a bit of sorting out to do as they are all tuned differently and have completely different driving experiences. But, if you're looking for the nuttiest vehicle in this class it's hard to top the all-new Cadillac CTS-V.

That's because it's using a variation of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06's supercharged engine, which means the CTS-V produces a staggering 640 horsepower and 630 lb.-ft. of torque. To put this in perspective, the fastest car on Earth for many years, the McLaren F1, has a motor that produces 627 horsepower and 480 lb.-ft. of torque.

Clearly, General Motors' luxury division is going for the gold here.

Paired up with this obscene mill is an eight-speed automatic transmission that ensures you rocket from zero to 60 in a gut-punching 3.7 seconds. Thankfully, unlike the last-generation CTS-V, Cadillac spent time refining this transmission and it shows — now gear changes in manual mode happen without jolting passengers or feeling like the gearbox is lagging for a second.

Cadillac CTS-V

Personally, I would prefer a proper manual transmission with this much power so I could completely control how the vehicle's wheels spin, but this is the only selection you can have at the time. Word on the street suggests this may change down the road but there are no guarantees. Honestly, don't hold your breath.

Although I am the first to admit that I am not a fan of V8 mills, I have to say that this eight-cylinder's sound is addicting. While the dual-pane glass and other sound-deadening techniques keep the interior shockingly quiet, there are some things that cannot be completely eliminated. The supercharger is one of them. Its whine fills the cabin when you're feeding the V more juice and when that noise is paired with a burly V8, you really cannot go wrong. 

Looking at this V from the outside, I don't think the average individual would pick up on what a monster this thing really is. I wouldn't exactly call it a wolf in sheep's clothing but it does look rather dapper to this viewer's eyes. Think of it as a body builder in a tailored suit that's probably a size too small.

It's a bit wrong but you don't want to question it.

Sure it has more aggressive styling with a larger front grille and bigger air intakes to cool the impressive engine, but it doesn't come off as ostentatious or tacky. Yes, it has a new wheel and tire package that make the big brake kit very visible, but it's not in your face with gold- or orange-painted calipers. What may be a bit of a giveaway is the larger rear decklid spoiler and quad-tipped exhaust when the baffles are open. When they're closed it seems like a normal sedan, however, when they're open it sounds like you have a bassy, rumbling giant on your hands. And that's because you do.

Once you get more comfortable behind the CTS-V's Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel you'll note that the cabin is inviting.

Cadillac CTS-V

My particular test vehicle was equipped with a pair of Recaro, race-inspired seats, which means that support and bolstering is more than taken care of. Another improvement over the last-gen product, these seats provide the right mix of sporting potential and comfort — in the last-gen CTS-V the Recaro's padding was too stiff and it actually became painful after driving around for an extended period of time. Elsewhere around the cabin you'll note the clever use of Alcantara and leather, which makes it feel just a bit more special than, say, the ATS-V or standard CTS.

Though this all sounds good, I have to say I could do without the use of touch-sensitive buttons on the center stack. While GM tried this out with the first-generation Chevrolet Volt, it abandoned that with the all-new 2016 model year Volt. Something tells me I am not the only one wishing I had something with more of a tactile feel. The reality is that the haptic feedback that produces an almost non-existent "thunk" when you touch a button just isn't enough when you're hauling at speed. The last thing I want to do is take my eyes from the road and inspect if a button lit up or did what I intended for it to do. Note to GM engineers: this is a stupid idea, please be done with it.

But, what's it like to drive? I've been waiting to get to this part.

Because all the aforementioned power is sent exclusively to the rear wheels, you have a bit of a wildcat on your hands. Unlike many of today's all-wheel drive high-performance cars, if you goose the throttle you will chirp the wheels and lose traction. First gear's a Duesey if you aren't paying attention. So is second. And third. This makes the driving experience truly exhilarating. With so many of today's automobiles equipped with AWD systems, it's refreshing for a high-performance auto to be set up so the driver can determine their success or failure.

While the CTS-V may have the engine of a supercar, the steering isn't quite there. Though I appreciate the Alcantara trimming and while it has nice weighting, it is numbed out extensively and just feels like it is missing something. There's pretty much zero communication between the road, the automobile and the driver.

In addition, even though it weighs less than most of its competition it doesn't feel  particularly lithe. Perhaps Cadillac tuned it this way because the ATS-V can easily do the nimble thing? While the body is controlled in cornering and when pushed, I just wish it felt a little more American — like the Corvette — and a little less German — heavy.

I will have you know that there is a benefit to this heaviness. It gives the driver plenty of confidence, which is something you need with this much power under your right foot. On center feel at highway speed is dead on and the vehicle's movements under pressure are predictable.

Another positive: the CTS-V really does provide two distinct motoring experiences. You can either have a luxury sedan or an all-out sport sedan.

If you leave the vehicle's driving mode in Touring, you have a quiet pussycat on your hands. The vehicle will quietly skirt around New York's busiest streets and thanks to the V's well thought out insulation techniques, the V's interior blocks out the hectic charm of the Big Apple. More importantly, the ride is well dampened and can handle Manhattan island's absurd craters without punching your kidneys. Try doing that in an E63, M5 or RS7 — you can't motor around as smoothly as the Caddy.

But don't be silly, this kitty has claws. Select Track mode and your world completely changes. The exhaust opens up, the throttle response gets sharper, the steering weighting gets heavier and the suspension tightens up.

Essentially, you're getting your cake and are able to eat it too.

Generation over generation, I am particularly surprised at how much more grown up the CTS-V has become. While the last-gen V seemed a bit silly with its jolting shifts, super stiff suspension and rock hard seats, it's clear to me that the engineers made a conscious effort to make this generation V a livable daily driver. It strikes a much better balance and, frankly, I don't think its competition does as good of a job. 

Much like the original M5 that provided owners with the best of both worlds, you get that in the Cadillac CTS-V. This is something that the competition has strayed from — the cars are too soft or too hardcore. This is why if you're in the market you need to consider adding the Cadillac to your fleet.

The Good:

- What a motor — The power is endless and the thrills do not stop
- Rear-wheel drive is the most fun expression of a performance automobile — Thankfully, Cadillac hasn't abandoned that, yet
- Actually feels like a luxury car with its quiet interior, and suspension that can handle New York's bumpy roads and uneven road surfaces

The Bad:

- Steering feel is not communicative and this is a shame
- Touch-sensitive center stack buttons are the work of the devil
- No six or seven-speed manual transmission on offer — this is what made the last-gen CTS-V an M5 and E63 killer

The Lowdown:

While we may be especially critical of General Motors' efforts, one thing the company always seems to get right — in a big way — are its performance vehicles. Cars like the Corvette and CTS-V are pretty hard to hate on, unless you're a brand snob. There's no competitor that has as much power and as much flexibility as the CTS-V. As the vehicle has grown up it's become more luxurious and more refined — this is a good thing. I just wish it had a manual gearbox to really put the nail in the coffin for the others. All the while ringing the register at a discount compared to the three big Germans. Make mine a V, please.

Cadillac CTS-V

REVIEW: Is POWER The Answer? Does The Cadillac CTS-V Keep The Mighty M5, E63 and RS7 At Bay?

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