Swiss Army Knife: 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport

These days people are asking more and more out of their cars. Bigger, faster, safer, more efficient. Cadillac, like all manufacturers, set out to do that. If you’re just here to find out how they did, then you need not read any further. We’re happy to report that they succeeded. But they’ve gone far beyond making a bigger, better CTS. They have created a Swiss Army Knife, a car that seems prepared for everything. The 2014 Cadillac CTS  Vsport is not simply a jack-of-all-trades, it manages to be a brilliant car in almost every possible scenario. It is a sedan worthy of any and all praise that has been bestowed upon it.

Cadillac CTS VSport 2

For those of you who enjoy reading, there is more to know about this car. Based on the rear-drive ATS platform, the new CTS gets yet another iteration of Cadillac’s Art and Science design. Think of it as a luxury battleship. The new CTS is 5 inches longer than the previous generation, but feels leaner thanks to the lower roofline and hood. Up front, a bold new grille with LEDs that strake from the lower fascia up onto front fender. At night, the Vsport is menacing. Sharp creases in the hood and the door panels prevent the CTS from feeling slab-sided. Around back, the new rear end recalls much of the previous generation, but with sharper lines and less protrusions.

Cadillac CTS VSport 1

Inside, the new CTS has stepped its game up considerably. The gauge cluster is an extremely customizable 12.3″ LCD screen. CUE worked well in our tester, but on occasion had issues with navigation directions and detours. Like we found in the ATS, the touchscreen was highly susceptible to collecting dirty finger prints. As with many of GM’s new offerings, the materials and quality are massively improved. Open pore wood, leather, and alcantara adorn the interior. Our tester had the optional Kona Brown semi-aniline leather seats, which looked fantastic and are worth the price premium. There is no escaping the parts bin, however. The turn signals and wiper stalks are shared with many of the models we’ve driven this year, and the steering wheel is starting to feel very familiar, albeit with an extra layer of leather.

Cadillac CTS VSport 9

The new CTS is available with 3 engine options. Our tester, the top-range Vsport model, comes armed with a 3.6L twin turbo V6. 420 hp and 430 lb ft. torque flow through a new 8-speed automatic to sticky, 18″ Pirelli performance tires. The Vsport is only available as a proper front-engine, rear-drive sport sedan. In that vein, the CTS Vsport is thoroughly reworked with sport-tuned components. The suspension gets new spring rates and stiffer stabilizer bars, the steering rack is re-tuned to be quicker and more responsive, and Brembo brakes are fitted to put a stop to things. Cadillac also fitted Magnetic Ride Control and an electronic limited-slip differential with adjustable drive modes, the same system found on the C7 Corvette.

Our Vsport arrived in Premium trim, added $10,000 to the MSRP. With it comes 20-way adjustable front seats, a color heads-up display, adaptive cruise control with automatic braking and collision preparation, an extended sunroof, and 3-zone climate control with rear heated seats. These are all nice to have, but it isn’t really necessary to enjoy a 400+ hp sport sedan. Without it, the CTS is a remarkable value for the performance. There isn’t another luxury sport sedan south of $75,000 that can keep up.

Cadillac CTS VSport 12

Driving the new CTS Vsport is brilliant. The new CTS is lighter and more powerful than the previous car, and this isn’t even the full-fledged V model. With the ability to reach 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, it’s as quick as the V8-powered Lexus IS-F that we had last year, and sounded almost as good. This is one throaty V6. Step on it and response is almost immediate, but things perk up in Sport or Track mode. Like the ATS we tested, turn in is immediate and the Brembo brakes are best-in-class. With a near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution, the CTS doesn’t handle like it’s battleship appearance leads you to believe. The steering was direct and there was a great sense of where the front tires were pointing. The wider, stickier tires do have a tendency to wander on uneven roads, however.

Cadillac CTS VSport 3

Dialing back into Touring, for rough roads or traffic, reigns in the CTS’ wild side. It becomes civil, quiet, and very comfortable. The adjustable dampers smooth out expansion joints and road imperfections. When called upon, the CTS will be the epitome of luxury. We typically left the car in Sport, since best managed the balance of comfort and performance. The magnetic dampers worked wonders and the electronic differential is a master of rear traction. It’s smart, able to route power for better acceleration out of a tight corner. In Track mode, the Vsport raises the traction control intervention allowing for some slip. It’ll still keep you on the road, but it’s much more fun. Be sure to warn your passenger, as you’ll forget about everything else but the drive.

Cadillac CTS VSport 7

The only letdown during our week of driving is from the new transmission. The 8-speed automatic was a little sluggish in automatic mode. Taking control with the wheel-mounted paddles didn’t yield a huge improvement. Downshifts don’t arrive on command and upshifting too late yielded computer intervention. It’s noticeable as you call for second gear at the same time the car does, meaning you suddenly find yourself in third. It’s the flaw in an otherwise phenomenal car.

The CTS Vsport is a car of unique character. We’re not sure any other sedan is capable of such a balance. There are luxury sedans, there are sport sedans, and then there’s the Cadillac CTS Vsport. It’s the do-it-all sedan, the Swiss Army Knife of cars. It’s hard to ask more from the Vsport, though the transmission could do with a few tweaks. Our week was a combination of excellent roads, great weather, and a great car. When it was all over, it’s clear that Cadillac has set a new standard for all other mid-size sport sedans to reach for.

Cadillac CTS VSport 11

-Scott Villeneuve

2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport Premium
Kona Brown Semi-Aniline Full Leather Seats w/ Jet Black Accents $1,650
Destination Charges $925
As Tested MSRP $71,645

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