Cadillac will put two tire-spinning models on the road in the months ahead, the latest additions to its V-Series line-up. But the launch of the 2016 Caddy ATS-V and CTS-V will mark just the beginning of what could become a significant line-up of high-performance products to be introduced by the end of the decade.
General Motors’ flagship brand is setting out on the most rapid rollout of new products in its history, with eight new models – five targeting all-new market segments – due to debut before the end of the decade. And a number of those could get V-Series spinoffs, senior officials told TheDetroitBureau.com following a test drive of the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V in Austin, Texas.
“The ‘V’ will be on more models than today,” said Dave Leone, Caddy’s chief engineer, quickly stressing that not every product in the Cadillac line-up will get the distinctive badge marking the performance sub-brand.
The first V-Series model, introduced in 2004, was a version of the original Cadillac CTS sedan and came out as almost an afterthought, several Caddy officials recalled. It was rough and raw but was meant to raise the brand’s awareness – and serve notice on German rivals like BMW, which had built a loyal following for its vaunted M performance models.
A more sophisticated model of the CTS-V followed the launch of the second-generation sedan. Cadillac then added wagon and coupe versions.
All those models relied on big-block V-8s to make enormous amounts of power. But they were more than just straight-line muscle cars. Caddy took to heart the European mantra, which delivered a balance of neck-snapping acceleration, nimble handling and sure-footed braking.
The third-generation, 2016 Cadillac CTS-V will follow the original formula, this time opting for a one of the most powerful engine packages ever offered by General Motors, its 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 punching out 640 horsepower – just 10 hp less than the GM record-holder, the new Chevrolet Corvette Z06. And it will handily top such benchmark European performance machines as the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.
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But the new ATS-V takes a slightly different route, opting for a more European-style twin-turbo V-6 churning out 464 hp and 445 pound-feet of torque.
That opens up a wide range of opportunities going forward, according to various members of the Cadillac team. Among other things, future V-Series models could opt for even smaller and more advanced gas engines. And the brand’s engineers are looking at even more radical options that could include electrified powertrains.
That wouldn’t be entirely out of line with broader industry trends. The flagship models for a number of European supercar brands – the Ferrari LaFerrari, the Porsche 918 Spyder and the McLaren P1 – use hybridized drivetrains. Audi and Mercedes-Benz are both working up battery-based performance models, and BMW has demonstrated the potential of electrification with its new i8 plug-in hybrid sports car.
But Cadillac officials stress they are far from ready to commit to that approach, and V-Series models will likely stick with gas power, at least in the near-term.
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What could come next? Planners and engineers are studying the potential of a V-Series version of the maker’s new CT6 flagship. It’s a controversial issue within Cadillac, some members of the team stressing that BMW has always seen its own 7-Series as too big to get the M treatment. But while the Caddy CT6 may be the same size as the 7-er, it’s as light as the BMW 5-Series, and could prove an appropriate candidate.
Among the products Cadillac is working on, the brand will add a line smaller than the current ATS to compete with the likes of the BMW 1-Series and Mercedes CLA. That is all but certain to get the V-Series badge – and would likely be equipped with a small, turbocharged powertrain.
Leone and other Cadillac officials are equally vociferous about what products will not get the V-badge.
“Don’t expect to see an Escalade-V, or an SRX-V,” he told TheDetroitBureau.com. “We will focus on platforms which lend themselves to performance driving.”
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Cadillac intends to bring out at least two more crossovers by decade’s end. Could they be more suitable for the performance treatment? Brand officials aren’t yet willing to say.
But Leone did stress that even models, such as the Escalade, that won’t get the full V-Series makeover will get the only slightly more tame V-Sport treatment. Similar to the BMW M-Sport and Audi S, it’s a slightly “more well-behaved” upgrade, said Leone, that will still deliver plenty of thrills.