2020 Cadillac CT5-V
– Aggressive styling
– Power and handling
– Great cabin space
– Some busy styling elements
– Few rough cabin bits
– Above-average road noise
Some clarification may be needed before we start this story. Due to some reshuffling of GM’s own making, it needs to be made clear that the Cadillac CT5 we’re driving is not a straight-up replacement for the discontinued CTS. The CT5 is actually a smidge shorter than the almost-midsize CTS, and will now directly compete with cars like the compact BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Also, the CT5-V seen here is not a direct replacement for the fire-breathing CTS-V. The CT5-V is now an entry-level “V” model with less horsepower (to go up against BMW M340i and Mercedes-AMG C43 level of cars), and a future CT5-V Blackwing model will bring the fight to the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-AMG C 63. Now with that out of the way, let’s get on with the review.
We didn’t find the CT5 particularly endearing in official photos, as it looks a bit too tall for its aimed fastback styling. There are a lot of lines all over the front and rear fascias as well, emphasised more with extensive LED lighting, making the overall design look a bit busy. However, in person the car appears much better, specifically in darker colours like our test car, and it looks like nothing else on the road. The CT5-V has the requisite vents, wheels, tips and lip spoilers to give it that taut sports-sedan flair.
Like the exterior, the interior styling is also likewise busy, but the use of excellent leather for door inserts and seat upholstery lifts up the ambience. The dash and window-sill surfaces are trimmed in rougher-textured padded materials and there are some hard plastic panels in lower areas. In the boot, everything is nicely carpeted, but the floor panel feels a bit unfinished when lifted up to get to the spare wheel.
Cabin space is very good with great rear legroom for a compact sedan, although very tall folks may complain about headroom back there. The front seats are well-bolstered, and there are enough cup-holders and storage spaces, while the rear seat split-folds to increase cargo space. The boot is huge, but it is accessed via a relatively smaller opening since it has a sedan boot-lid rather than a hatchback-style liftgate.
The CT5 comes with the latest iteration of their infotainment system, with a large 10-inch touchscreen and a quick-enough interface, making basic tasks far easier to perform than before. Also of note are the great dual-zone a/c with rear vents, panoramic glass roof, smart key with remote start, 360-degree parking cameras, heads-up display and a strong 15-speaker Bose sound system. Available features include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic detection and all the usual active safety features, with GM’s unique seat-vibrating system for alerts. And there’s treats for your smartphone too, with Apply Carplay, Android Auto (where available), 3 USB ports and a wireless charger.
Interestingly, it’s one of the last luxury cars to feature a physical gauge cluster (for the speedo and the rev counter, with a screen placed in between), although the fonts and design are very flat.
Powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 making a juicy 360 hp at 5400 rpm and 550 Nm of torque at 2350-4000 rpm, the potent motor is mated to a 10-speed automatic and rear-wheel-drive. It pulls strongly when the throttle is buried, with no obvious turbo lag and mostly linear power delivery, ready to spin the rear wheels on command. All our goofing around, a lot of it in “sport” mode, resulted in a fuel consumption figure of 14 litres/100 km (7 km/litre), but a more sedate driving style will probably result in far better economy.
The car has a naturally grunty exhaust note from the outside, but having it amplified through the speakers makes it sound weirdly inauthentic. Still, it’s a car that managed to do the 0-100 kph run in 5.5 seconds in our Dubai-summer testing.
The gearbox is generally fine, but could be a bit quicker on the downshifts, as shuffling through 10 gears causes a sliver of delay when driving in automatic or manual.
The real magic is in the chassis. Still based on the outgoing CTS’s “GM Alpha 2” platform (also shared with the Chevy Camaro), it has been massaged for 35 mm more wheelbase on the CT5 while the overall length of the car is actually shorter by 43 mm and wider by 48 mm. It offers up beautifully balanced handling, with very neutral behaviour on fast corners and great grip on the sharper ones, even with conservatively-sized 245/40 tyres wrapping the 19-inch alloys.
The steering is weighted well, and although feedback is a bit limited and disconnected, we found our confidence going up gradually thanks to the agile chassis. The four-wheel disc brakes with 4-piston Brembo calipers are excellent as well, with good linear responses and strong stopping power.
The ride is very comfortable, but road noise is noticeable at 120 kph, while the fake engine noise from the speakers can get annoying on acceleration, especially it’s so obvious.
The big question is whether a sports sedan buyer should consider this car, and the answer is a big yes. The V’s pricing directly competes with a lesser-specced BMW 330i or Mercedes-Benz C 250, and while we pointed out the Caddy’s deficiencies, we were nitpicking things that most buyers probably wouldn’t notice. If a premium-trimmed performance car is what you’re after, the CT5-V will be very satisfying as a daily driver.
Current Model Introduced in:
Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
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