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2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

 

From the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Arthur C. Clarke to films like Avatar and, yes, Avatar: The Last Airbender, cryonics has long been a mainstay of science fiction. The promise of being "frozen" until a cure is discovered for the disease you are suffering from, or “sleeping” for years without aging as you travel through space and time is so enticing that even Benjamin Franklin dreamed of being preserved for a century to see how things turned out for the little revolution he was involved in.

Unfortunately, while the real science in this area has come a long way in the centuries since, we’re not quite there yet, and the dozens of Ted Williams wannabes who have been subjected to one of the rudimentary forms of cryonics available today probably won’t be reawakening in the year 2110. Lucky for the rest of us, cars are more resilient.

Before it was stricken by the great economic downturn and put on life support by the American taxpayer, General Motors was working on something wonderfully sinister deep in its laboratories: The Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. The sliced and diced two-door take on the CTS-V Sedan was slated to go on sale last year, but the car was hidden away and put on ice while other extremities of the company fell victim to the accounting team’s scalpel, and the goodie two-shoes Chevy Volt took center stage in the court of public opinion.

Enough of that nonsense.

Packing a the same 556 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 found in the Sedan, the CTS-V Coupe can’t be driven 40 miles on electricity like the Volt, but it can bolt from a standstill to 40 mph in under three seconds, reach 60 mph in less than four, and doesn’t stop spewing hot carbon gasses until it’s travelling faster than 190 mph.

Give it a break, it was cold in storage for a long time.

The rear-wheel-drive Coupe also rides on an identical wheelbase as the Sedan, which is a surprising, considering how dramatically different the two cars look. Every body part from the base of the windshield on back has been altered; the two-door standing two inches lower in height, two inches shorter in length, and two inches wider in the rear than the Sedan.

The chopped roof necessitated a switch to frameless doors that use hidden touch pads in lieu of unsightly handles, the windshield reclines at a lazy 62.5 degrees, and the rear window is so flat that it could pass for a hatchback. Instead, it blends into a trunk lid that’s topped by a triangular center high-mounted stop light that’s so pointy it should be labeled “Keep Back 200 Feet”. Also a functional spoiler to help aerodynamics, the chunk of translucent red plastic stands proudly as the crowning touch to a rear end that received more attention in the design studio than likely any Cadillac since they wore tailfins – which are paid homage by the protruding vertical taillights.

If the Clovis people made cars instead of arrowheads, they would’ve looked a lot like this one.

Inside, the dashboard also carries over from the sedan, as do the front seats, which are now mounted closer to the floor to help compensate for the lower roof. Along with the standard buckets, heavily-bolstered Recaros are available for owners who plan to take full advantage of the CTS-V’s sporting potential. Saffron-colored microfiber inserts with matching contrast stitching on the black leather scattered about the cabin is unique to the Coupe for now, and a good box to check on the order sheet. An infotainment system with navigation, XM satellite radio and a hard drive is standard.

Rear seat passengers aren’t treated quite as well as the folks with the view, but it’s not as bad as you’d think back there. Legroom is in short supply, but there is a decent amount of headroom available if you don’t find it too disconcerting to have the rear window glass extremely close to your noggin. Don’t look up and you’ll be fine.

Of course, if you have the need to haul humans around regularly there’s always the Sedan. Choosing the $64,290 Coupe is about hauling a specific body part, and getting a lot more style to go with a smidgen more performance that the mere $620 premium over the four-door buys you.

Since they weigh within about 20 pounds of each other, straight-line acceleration is nearly identical. It’s in the turns where the nth degree of difference reveals itself. The Coupe rides on an active suspension featuring shocks filled with a magnetorheological fluid that stiffens and softens instantly in response to the road and demands of the driver. The hardware was ported over from the Sedan, but the engineers fine-tuned the software to take advantage of the Coupe’s stiffer structure, a welcome byproduct of the redesign.

The dynamic changes are mostly negligible in the real world, but on the track - where you may actually see one of these now and then - the Coupe exhibits a sharper edge, with quicker turn-in and a little more grip from the wider rear end, which means there’s a tad more force to reckon with it when it finally lets go. Unless your insurance covers track days, or your wallet is deep enough not to care, leaving the stability control on is a good idea. The absurd amount of power on hand belies the fact that this is big heavy car that carries a lot of inertia with it wherever it goes.

If all else fails, the jumbo 15-inch Brembo brakes should slow you down plenty before you get up close and personal with the Armco, and you’ll be glad to know that they’re in it for the long haul. At the launch event for the car, my ham-footed colleagues and I subjected a batch of Coupes to a couple of hours of lapping at the 4-mile long Monticello Motor Club without the middle pedal ever going limp.

That said, while you’ll see a lot of comparison tests pitting the CTS-V Coupe against the likes of the similarly priced BMW M3, it’s really not an accurate matchup. Nearly a foot longer, 600 pounds heavier and much more powerful, the Caddy is from a very different gene pool. And it’s one that the engineers aren’t done tampering with.

Later this year, a station wagon version of the CTS-V goes on sale. That’s right around the time the Volt hits the market. Seeing as how he liked electricity just about as much as he did democracy, its too bad Ben Franklin isn’t around to see how this one turns out, either.

Here's hoping you will.

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2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Base Price: $64,290

Type: 4-passenger, rear-wheel-drive 2-door coupe

Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged V8

Power: 556 hp, 551 lb-ft torque

Transmission: 6-speed manual or automatic

MPG: 12 city/18 hwy

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