The 2017 Cadillac CTS-V is, by any objective measure, one hell of a driver's car. It boasts a 640 horsepower supercharged V8, the exact same engine you'll find under the hood of a Corvette Z06 or Camaro ZL1. Inside you'll find a luxurious interior with Alcantara, carbon fiber, aluminum and leather trim, plus a high-tech infotainment system. Outside, it boasts the kind of sinister good looks required of a super sedan, especially in black. It's also expensive enough to maintain the kind of exclusivity luxury car buyers demand.

The Cadillac CTS-V is so good thanks to the strange bedfellow relationship it has with other cars in the GM stable. The same basic underpinnings, for example, are shared not just with the lower-end CTS models, but with the Cadillac ATS and believe it or not, the Chevrolet Camaro. That Camaro, as mentioned, boasts a ZL1 model with the same engine, and many of the same suspension tricks as this Cadillac, and is arguably one of the best handling cars GM has ever made. So, if you want to think of the 2017 CTS-V as a four-door, five-passenger, luxury-minded Camaro ZL1, we won't stop you.

Sports car performance

A sport-luxury sedan like this has multiple goals, only one of which his to be fast. There's certainly no question the CTS-V accomplishes that goal in spades. Weighing about 4,100 pounds, the CTS-V rockets from a standstill to 60 mph in about 3.7 seconds, and tops out at about 200 mph. That's the kind of performance one expects from a two-seat sports car, not a four-door luxury sedan, and against rivals like the Mercedes-Benz E63 and Porsche Panamera Turbos, the CTS-V holds its own in performance.

So it has the guts, but another job it has to do is impress others, and here too, the CTS-V proves surprisingly capable. Cadillac's "Art and Science" design philosophy may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it gets a lot of admiring looks, a surprising number from 20-somethings who seem to suddenly find Cadillac an aspirational brand. No small credit goes to the optional $7,000 Carbon Black package, which adds carbon fiber exterior trim, jet-black wheels, and other visual enhancements that take the appearance from slightly sinister to downright evil. And if you think evil isn't the right look, simply remember that it's Darth Vader that's iconic, not his kid.

The last job a luxury performance sedan like this has to do is impress its driver every day, reminding him or her that buying it was the right move. Here, the CTS-V is again on its game, but rather than the A+ in other areas, it's maybe closer to an A-. It's not the way it drives. On a mountain road it's supremely satisfying. Even on the kind of tight, twisting roads that makes Miata owners happy and M5 owners frustrated, the CTS-V proves adept. The suspension in Sport is firm without being punishing, the paddle shifters respond to clicks very rapidly, and even if you just leave it in D the transmission's shift algorithms do a great job selecting the correct gear for the conditions. The brakes are just as powerful as the engine, scrubbing off speed without fade. For the truly daring, the Track mode dials back the stability control considerably, although we suggest using it only at the track as the name suggests.

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Luxury cruiser

In more relaxed settings, the CTS-V reverts back to the luxury side with ease, offering up a quiet and comfortable highway experience that's augmented by the exhaust rumble, rather than overpowered by it. Cadillac has made great strides with its CUE infotainment system, and the touch screen is far more responsive and intuitive than ever before. The Alcantara headliner and interior trim all feel spot on for the price, which is saying something when you consider the $103,000 price tag.

And yet, it's not all rosy. For example, you can't get adaptive cruise control in the CTS-V, despite it being available in the rest of the CTS lineup. Why? Because the massive V8 requires a ton of cool air to keep functioning, and the radar unit takes up too much room in the grille. If you opt for the Recaro seats -- and you'll want them, believe me -- you give up the ventilation mode of the standard seats. And the interior, as nice as it is, just doesn't feel quite as special as the inside of a Mercedes-Benz, Audi, or BMW.

The silver lining to this feature misstep is the CTS-V's price. About the most you can pay for the 2017 Cadillac CTS-V is about $105,000, and you can cut $7,000 off that if you decline the badass-looking Carbon Black option package. That gives you a 640-horsepower super sport sedan capable of astounding feats of driving for less than $100,000. Sure, being a bargain runs counter to the idea of a luxury car, but it's hard to ignore that kind of advantage in a car that gives up so little to its rivals. If Cadillac could source a smaller radar unit, and somehow ventilate those Recaro seats, we'd have virtually nothing to complain about. 


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