Monday, June 26, 2017
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2016 Cadillac CT6 CTS-V

Cadillac loves to remind us that it was once considered the “Standard of the World” for luxury automobiles. But that was a very long time ago, and the extravagant, floaty cush­mobiles that Cadillac built at the time are no longer in vogue per se. After decades languishing in the doldrums of GM’s dark ages, Cadillac has reemerged with products that dispense with gratuitous flash and retain the marque’s creature comforts while chasing the best Germany can serve up in terms of performance and handling. With not one but two sedans reaching into the $90K range, Cadillac has never been more ambitious. Which is best? Well, that depends on whether you like your four-doors fancy or ferocious.

cad32016 CT6: THE FANCY ONE

After many years without a proper flagship sedan, Cadillac installed the all-new CT6 earlier this year at the top of its lineup. While its mid- $50K starting price for the four-cylinder model (!) is rather cheap for a “flagship” luxury sedan, the higher-spec versions, such as the $88,460 twin-turbo V-6 Platinum model, seem fully deserving of the designa­tion. As spacious inside as a short-wheelbase 2015 BMW 7-Series, the CT6 is truly full-size, yet its styling is dignified and understated. No rocket-age tailfins or chrome-drenched body addenda here; the flashiest elements on the CT6 are its tastefully detailed grille and width-en­hancing vertical LED running lamps. Even the Cadillac crest has been stripped of its wreath.

The CT6’s interior is Cadillac’s best in memory. You’ll sink into creamy, contoured leather seats while coming face-to-face with a wide, tall dashboard that’s none too techno-shy with TFT gauges and an infotainment system operable via a huge touchscreen or a touchpad in the armrest. The options list includes reclining and massaging rear seats, slim entertainment monitors that motor up from behind the front headrests, a 34-speaker Bose Panaray sound system, and much more. And all is rendered in a resplendent combination of wood, chrome trim, and in some models, carbon fiber—exactly how a Cadillac should look and feel in 2016.

While Caddys of yore were known for their heavy weight, the CT6 is extremely light, allowing the 404-hp twin-turbo V-6 to fully keep pace with far pricier V-8-powered sleds from across the pond. When the road gets curvy the Platinum model’s standard all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering keep the CT6 on its line with remarkable acuity. At no point, however, does the CT6 feel harsh, its suspension masterfully muting out impacts while allowing a bounty of road feel for the driver.

Cadillac is still mulling the possibility of a sedan even larger and more premium than the CT6. Until that car arrives, this one fits the flagship bill just fine.

cad22016 CTS-V: THE FEROCIOUS ONE

If the CT6 is what you’d hope Cadillac would build in 2016, the $84,990 CTS-V is the Cadillac you might never expect the brand to make. Indeed, as one of the most powerful four-doors on the planet with a supercharged V-8 churning out 640 horsepower, the CTS-V makes a performance play that no one could have envisioned GM’s ole wreath-and-crest division 20 years ago.

Why did it go over the top with performance? Well, it’s a brave new world for luxury customers, many of whom find it just as important to get somewhere quickly as it is to get there comfortably. Besides, power is sexy, right? So Cadillac stuffed that big motor under the hood of its mid-size CTS, slapped some gleaming carbon fiber on the body, and slammed it all down on a lowered suspension. The result is one of the quickest and nimblest sedans in the world; America’s audacious answer to the popular and sexy BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 sedans— incidentally, out-powering both.

Yet the CT6 is still a Cadillac, which means that behind that racy sheetmetal is an interior full of treats, from a sophisticated infotainment system to exceedingly lovely materials such as soft leather, faux suede and of course, more carbon fiber. The seats are decidedly sporty, with thick bolsters to help keep you in place in the event you get frisky on a curvy two-laner or even a racetrack. (Yes, a Cadillac on the racetrack!) And unlike other Caddies, this cabin is no library on wheels but rather a chamber where supercharger whine and exhaust rumble play a pow­erful and sometimes loud duet.

The CTS-V is the foil to the CT6, as feral as the other is finely tuned. Both suitable flagships for a brand seeking to restore its position of prominence in the luxury car world.