Charging Forward: Is the V-Series Really the V-Series, Still?

The CT4-V and CT5-V Have Been Unveiled, But Do They Fall Short?

It’s been a while since I plugged an OpEd — usually I bang out at least one of these a month — but with recent changes in the way we deliver content, as well as some corporate internal upgrades (more on that soon), it’s been longer than perhaps I would have liked.  However, the events of today have provoked me enough to put whatever I was working on for the day, off to the side, to say my piece.

After a few months of speculation and waiting, the CT5-V and CT4-V have finally been unveiled, and let’s just say, to mixed reviews. In my opinion, both are great looking cars and both appear to be well-made, quality products. Obviously, I have yet to drive either vehicle, but that’s my opinion from where I’m sitting at the moment.

However, there are two things that bother me; the lack of aggressive styling, and the lack of oats under the hood. As delivered from Cadillac, the CT4-V offers a turbocharged 2.7L 4-cylinder with “an estimated” 320 ponies at the flywheel, and a 10-speed automatic transmission. The CTS-V’s alleged successor, the CT5-V, delivers 355hp from a twin-turbo 3-liter V6, available AWD and only one choice of transmission; a 10-speed automatic… and therein lies the problem.

Both of these are terrific engines, and probably terrific cars, but neither are quite up to today’s V-series standards. The outgoing CTS-V delivered 640hp, and the TTV6 ATS-V was good for 455hp. Surely on the face of it, we’re going backwards, right? Heck, I mean even the first-gen CTS-V with a naturally-aspirated LS6/2 was 400hp — 12-15 years ago. So what happened?

Well Cadillac would tell you that their new direction is a good one; as “The new lineup expands the V-Series ethos, drawing more customers into the Cadillac Performance family, and the newest Vs are focused on elevated athleticism and luxurious refinement for customers wanting a dynamic daily drive,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s President.

OK, I get it, Cadillac is trying to reach a younger demographic than what they’ve achieved in the past, with a lower price point of these vehicles, and a more-balanced driving machine. It’s playing the long game, but the plan clearly seems to be to win over future customers early. But if you’re going to affix the V-series badge on the doors, it better have what it takes to live up to the heritage and the history.

Reuss went on to say, “this is only the beginning of the V family. Cadillac’s passion for performance shines on a racetrack. Stay tuned.” In other words, there’s definitely more models to come, and probably, more power around the corner. Whether that means from the CT4-V and the CT5-V, remains to be seen, but if there’s another model on the horizon, where would these two fall? Is there a V+, or a V-Black in the future, like what BMW M and M-B AMG have done?

In my mind, every V-series Cadillac that rolled off of the assembly line was testament to the absolute best Cadillac could muster for the time, in terms of class, sophistication, performance and power in one package. It was the ultimate version of that particular model. Calling something a V-Series that most would consider an “also-ran,” is sacrilegious. It feels generic, or diluted.

If younger performance car buyers are looking for “bang for the buck,” wouldn’t they purchase a used ATS-V or CTS-V for roughly the same price that these two late entries would sell for new?

I asked my younger, Millennial brother, who’s part of a generation of people that largely communicates through GIFs and memes, via text, about this. He went on to say, “Not everyone wants used, though. A lot of young people want new because it’s “new” and its more “status” than trying to ball out in a 6-year old car. That’s why they run out and buy every single new version of Android or iPhone that comes out, regardless of the ridiculous cost. That’s how my generation is.”

Eye-opening insight about Millennial buying habits aside, I guess I’m getting old and falling behind the times. Maybe even a little nostalgic at this point.

Throwing it back to about a decade ago, and owning a first-gen CTS-V was the perfect car at the time, for a [younger] 30-year old me. It was loud, raw, fast and yet, strangely just modern and sophisticated enough for what I wanted in a “new” car. All it had was the normal power accessories, and a 400hp LS2 with a manual 6-speed gearbox — no paddle shifting, no “manual mode,” no Blueteeth… just the perfect balance of sophistication, power and fun.

Honestly, it would pretty much check all of my same boxes today — and I wish I still had it — now more than ever.

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  1. Jeff Collop 31 May, 2019 at 10:14 Reply

    We can only speculate what Team Cadillac’s representative meant when he said “there is more to come” but something tells me it won’t be in the form factor we are used to with the ATS and CTS platforms. Based on some patent filings etc, we’ll probably see C8 platform based halo car strategy, that will probably be a slightly nerfed version of the C8, more plush, less NVH etc. This also may speak to the broader strategy GM may adapt, which is one like Acura has today with the NSX, offering only a Halo car to the select few that can come afford a ~130k performance toy. This also calls into question the long term viability of the Camaro platform from a performance perspective. Time will tell! 🙂

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