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Test Drive: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

My test 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe stickered for $73,380, and I’m getting that off my chest from the get-go for a reason: if you’ve got the ducats to buy this fast, angular coupe, you probably won’t care that I averaged 14.4 mpg during roughly 300 miles of mixed city and highway driving.

Still, convincing me to spend a week with a 556-horsepower Cadillac requires minimal arm twisting, even if I did spend $85 at the gas pump. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to test the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon, which had a similar thirst for premium fuel. Although I liked the wagon’s power, handling and cargo space, there were two things I didn’t like: its fuel economy and hearse-like exterior styling.

Our CTS-V's red paint, graphite wheels and yellow brake calipers made for a weird color combo.

Fortunately, the CTS-V Coupe doesn’t look like an uber-fast way to transport the dead, but it’s still frighteningly quick. And while it packs some serious power under its hood, the CTS-V’s engine was quiet and refined in stop-and-go traffic.

The adjustable suspension was compliant over road imperfections, as well as confidence inspiring on twisty roads. But what surprised me most was the throttle response. Puttering around town, the CTS-V felt like a normal upscale midsize car, but get more aggressive with your right foot and this Cadillac will take off quicker than the Millennium Falcon.

The CTS-V's shiny black trim showed some minor scratches.

But performance aside, I thought the CTS-V’s interior fell short of less-powerful rivals like the BMW M3, even if it does offer four well-placed cup holders. My test car had roughly 2,800 miles on it, but the piano-black trim on the center console was already showing noticeable scratches. Then there were the optional Recaro sport seats – I definitely could have done without these. While smaller passengers enjoyed their snug, supportive seatbacks, I’m a bit too broad to find them comfortable.

I wasn’t alone, either. Chris DiCosmo, general manager of U.S. News Education, is roughly my size, and initially, he didn’t mind the CTS-V’s snug thrones. That changed as the CTS-V’s wow-factor started to wear off. “I see what you’re saying about the seats,” DiCosmo agreed after roughly three minutes in the passenger seat.

Although the CTS-V Coupe offered class-leading performance and comfortable driving dynamics, I think I’d still rather have a BMW M3. The M3 is smaller and less powerful. It also offers less interior storage and trunk space, but on the upside, I thought the handling, build quality and fuel economy were all significantly better. If I was in the market for a high-performance coupe, I don’t think I’d sacrifice a refined interior for the CTS-V’s supercharged V8 muscle.

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