The V-Series: Road or Track?


The legendary Nürburgring is a beast. Built nearly a century ago in the shadow of a medieval castle in Germany’s Eifel Mountains, it’s home to nearly 21 kilometres of merciless track- 154 turns mixed with numerous elevation changes including one stretch once dubbed the ”Green Hell.” It’s here specifically the Nordschleife or “‘North Loop” that automakers come to test the speed and prowess of new performance models, as well as their durability in handling one of the world’s most demanding circuits (not to mention fickle weather conditions). Many a car has crashed or fallen apart here, to be sent back to the garage for repairs or updates.

No wonder, then, that Cadillac engineers brought the redesigned new CTS-V and first-ever ATS-V to this track last year to put them through the paces during the final phases of testing. The team was determined to push these vehicles to new heights, and the Nürburgring was just the track to let them know how they’d done.

The V-Series handled the track just fine, proving that these are vehicles like no others. They are lighter, faster, more tech-forward, and more luxurious than anything Cadillac has ever put on the road. But more than that, they’re a unique fusing of pleasure and performance luxury models with sophisticated road manners and track-capable sports cars, straight from the factory. Of course, no vehicles just roll off the line like that. The V-Series story starts back in 2004 when Cadillac introduced the first CTS-V, a car that would soon build its own following.

It’s time to tame the beast.

As the fans grew, so did demand for the vehicles, and it didn’t hurt that Cadillac put a special race version on the track for the Pirelli World Challenge GT circuit. Tens of thousands of development hours later, the V-Series breaks new ground in so many areas it’s hard to keep track. ”We made a lot of fans for life with the last generations of the V-Series, but now we’ve taken things a few steps up,” says John Buttermore, lead development engineer, Global Vehicle Development. //We’ve made major improvements in speed. The car is lighter. The chassis grip is much higher.”

It starts where it always starts with the engine. The CTS-V features a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that produces 649 horsepower and 855 Nm of torque. It goes from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 3.7 seconds. This is the fastest Cadillac ever, capable of reaching 320 km/h mph on the test track. The ATS-V is close behind: It sports the first Twin Turbo Cadillac has built, a 3.6-liter, 470-hp V6 and goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds, topping out at over 300 km/h on the test track. The V8 in the CTS-V is so big and powerful that the engineers had to upsize the radiator with additional outboard coolants to keep the powertrain cool. Even so, the engine weighs 9 kg less than the previous model, helping boost fuel economy and improve weight balance, which makes the car handle better on the road.

With all that power, it isn’t easy to keep these vehicles attached to the road; they want to take off. To ensure they stay fully grounded, the engineering team made structural enhancements to bolster stiffness by 25 percent over the standard CTS and ATS models. They also widened the front and rear footprint, helping enhance grip and reduce body motion. They added stiffer wheels and custom-made tires that offered greater road feel all of which results in more precise handling and steering and a more confident feel behind the wheel. In fact, the ATS-V is capable of exceeding 1.0 g of maximum lateral acceleration, a threshold once reserved for the racing exotics. This is performance without punishment, though, so the team also boosted the ride dampening by 40 percent helping the V-Series glide over fissures in the track and potholes on the streets.

During reveals this past winter, both the ATS-V and CTS-V won acclaim for their bald stance, wide-set front grille, and aerodynamic curves. These vehicles are designed with performance in mind. Nearly every exterior panel is unique, from the fascias and fenders to the hood, rear spoiler, and rocker molding. The hoods are made of a lightweight carbon fibre with air-extracting vents that pull hot air out of the engine compartment, helping keep the vehicle cool. A carbon fibre hood also helps reduce mass at the front of the car, where the reduction is needed most. Larger grille openings in the fascia bring in more air, providing optimal aero performance. Design played a role in the interior of the vehicles, too, but here the emphasis was on creating a premium feel. Leather-trimmed RECARO® performance seats with adjustable bolsters help hold the driver and front passenger in place during high-load cornering. The technology really shines in the interior, starting with the available Performance Data Recorder that tracks lap time, average and maximum speed, GPS, temperatures, and other variables on any route. A redesigned and upgraded Head-Up Display projects speed and other variables on the windshield in front of the steering wheel, making the driver feel like a jet pilot.

There’s also Bose® active noise cancellation to keep out road noise and other nuisances, plus Base engine sound enhancement for the sound you really want to hear. And both the ATS-V and CTS-V feature sophisticated parking assist systems that help fit the vehicle into even the tightest spaces. What is amazing is that you get all of that performance in a package that doesn’t sacrifice comfort or the luxury amenities that you would expect,” says John Kraemer, Cadillac’s marketing manager for the V-Series. ”We call that performance without punishment.”

The Cadillac ATS-V is currently not available in the United Kingdom.

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