U.S. automakers are such punching bags these days that it is hard not to root for them, all of them, to turn things around. That’s why, despite it’s mellowed-out styling, I am a big fan of the Volt and the optimism that it will be GM’s savior. So I was actually quite annoyed to catch one of the swarmy Brits snarkily tear down the Cadillac CTS-V on the otherwise excellent show from the BBC, Top Gear. Deriding Americans for obesity, recklessness, stupidity and apparently our collective Southern accents is a common theme on Top Gear, but I can excuse all of that if ultimately their conclusions are sound. Unfortunately Top Gear’s asinine evaluation is not.
The fastest, most powerful American sedan in history produces 550 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 550 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm from a supercharged V-8 derived from the Corvette ZR1 and capable of 0-60 time of just 3.9 seconds. The speedometer goes up to 300 mph for crying out loud. Though realistically top speed is ONLY 191 MPH. Whether you think that is necessary or not, that is insanely powerful.
But getting back to Top Gear’s review. One thing I like about the show is the unspoken mantra that performance is king. Not that style and build quality are unimportant but if my car is quicker than your car around the track, it wins in that situation. In Top Gear’s own test the CTS-V obliterated the Audi S4 Quattro that it was pitted against. So what did Top Gear not like about the CTS-V? Its cost, styling, the perception that the interior appointments were cheap and quirky details like the lateral G meter included on the instrument cluster is at best, unusable in real world driving situations. Most irritating is not that these details were included in their evaluation, but that other non-American vehicles are regularly given a pass on such things. Top Gear driver Jeremy Clarkson, and tester of the CTS-V, speaks with great affection of his own Aston Martin which has essentially disentegrated over time and other Top Gear darling, Jaguar, has been plagued since before the Ford administration for quality and electrical system issues. Also, at $60,000, the CTS-V is still considerably cheaper; at least 20 grand, than either the BMW M5 or Mercedes E63 AMG that Cadillac is competing against, while being significantly more powerful than either. Whatever bone to pick Clarkson has for the U.S., he could have found a better target than the CTS-V.
If you care to see Top Gear’s review, you can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhQb2wJVPTg. Now pass me another Big Mac.