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Initial Ride Review of the 2009 CTS-V

So, itís been a while since Iíve been here (real life and real job take its toll), but Iím on my way back. My passion was recently revived by an encounter with a beautiful beast thatís on its way and all I can say is: Holy Crap! Let me go on record to say that GM has finally built us THE car of all cars that EVERYONE here WILL want to buy. Strap in because here is the story of Mr. Reedís Wild Ride.

At the Cadillac Performance Experience last Saturday in Fontana, I was lucky enough to ride in the 2009 CTS-V. Although I was not allowed to drive that day (no one outside of GM is yet), I can honestly say the next best thing to driving the infield road course, is to have Andy Pilgrim (yes, the Andy Pilgrim that is the official driver of the CTS-V race car) chauffeur my butt around the track for 4 flat-out hot laps.

Most of my morning was spent speaking with Chris (lead project engineer), Kevin (Cadillac PR) and Andy himself about the V, generally poking, prodding, and asking questions about the car that I never thought Iíd be able to ask directly to THE guys responsible for bringing us the V. But all of that was just the build up to when it was finally time to strap into THE car. Keep in mind, this was not just any car, this was THE car that lapped the Nuremburg ring at 7:59 piloted by John Heinricy. This was THE car that is now currently the fastest soon to be production car around the NŁrburgring north course on production tires (a mere 9 seconds slower than the Lamborghini Murcielago.) Needless to say, as a Cadillac guy, I was in heaven and the stars were aligning.

The track was hot (outside temps in the upper 90s) and the car had already raced two runs. My excitement built as Chris said it was my turn and my adrenaline shot up to max. After watching the car go around the track a few times earlier in the day and hearing the stories of the few other lucky passengers, I was seriously amped for my ride. Chris helped me strap into the 5 point harness and Recaro racing seat and then gave me instructions in case I felt nauseous! With that fun advice, I turned to Andy, comfortable he had already driven the track a few times, shook his hand and told him to show me what this thing can do (or something like that). In retrospect, this was not the best thing to tell a professional driver when he has the track to himself, but my mind was mush before we even left the pits.

As we made our way out of the pits and entered the track, waved on by the track officials without a glance, we rolled onto pit road and headed for the first turn. Andy subtly shifted the transmission to sport mode (remember the NŁrburgring car is an auto) and moved both hands onto the steering wheel. Cruising at about 40-60 mph the ride was solid but still poised and smooth as the suspension dampened any bumps of the track. Honestly, if it were not for the fact that I was strapped snugly into a racing seat, it felt like we were off for a simple cruise around the block, but this was not Mayberry I soon learned. Andy didnít stomp the gas (track rules I later learned) but slowly rolled into the gas and pulled onto the track with a wicked right hander right in front of us. Despite my helmet and windows open (track rules), the car went from a comfortable 60 mph cruise to a purebred race machine in a matter of milliseconds. We entered the first juke left and long right hander swiftly. The car was solid and level almost as if it knew where we wanted to go.

Now maybe itís because he is a pro, but Andy made the first lap look easy; For him, compared to the V race car, Iím sure this was a Sunday drive and probably intensely different.. In fact, he commented a few times how smooth and easy the 09 V was to drive.

Coming around to the back straight I was finally able to feel the fierce acceleration of the car. The most beautiful sound known to a car enthusiast engulfed the car: a growling, throaty exhaust. It is worth mentioning that this exhaust was quiet as a purring cat 20 seconds earlier. On the back straight I estimate we hit close to 90 before we shot left and right again. All the while my eyes were wide and my smile broad. Honestly, I have NEVER felt acceleration or handling like this before.

Coming around the back long right sweeper we approached the chicane. I later asked how fast we were going (I couldnít see the gauges) and was told we hit that chicane at about 115 mph. Andyís lines were perfect and we absolutely flew down the back stretch hitting close to 130 mph in about a ľ of a mile.

At the end of the front straightaway, Andy was hard on the brakes and I was thrown into my harness as the front 6-piston calipers scrubbed off our speed before we started again entering a series of sharp, tight turns. All the while, the car stayed flat with very little body roll and very little tire noise. These were production tires too!

For two more laps the adrenaline flowed and my smile broadened with each turn, brake and burst of acceleration. Expertly handled by the driver we hit every line and the car performed like a race machine right up until Andy rolled off the track. As soon as we transitioned off the race track, the V immediately returned to its heritage and delivered a smooth ride that completely masked the bumpy parking lot pavement.

Then, it was time for me to get out and let someone else have a turn, so I thanked Andy for the ride and climbed out. I grabbed my camera from the in-car mount and began shooting from the rear of the car. Coaxing Andy to get on it from a stop, he did, much to the chagrin of the track staff who noted over the radio system ďCan someone please counsel the driver of the unmarked Cadillac.Ē Sorry folks, but you canít keep a pro from enjoying the best thing to emerge from the Cadillac stable since the electronic starter. As the car pulled away, at what I will presume was full throttle, two dark tire tracks were all that remained as the car became a spec at the end of pit road. Not an ounce of wheel hop could be seen (check out the video for yourself) and the sound of the exhaust was music to my ears.

Everyone who has visited knows that I own a 2004 CTS-V and I DO love the 1st gen car. Itís fun, quick, and looks great. That said we all know that the 2004-2006 V was built from the base Sigma platform and thus had inherent flaws which drove us crazy. After talking to the GM team assembled on site, talking over the car with other V owners, and riding in the 2009 CTS-V, I can honestly say that GM recognized the shortcomings of the 1st gen V and has addressed the issues: EVERY ONE OF THEM.

Cadillac and the GM Performance Division have built a car that is going to knock the socks off any other performance sedan out there at a price point, based on various hints dropped, which makes my mouth water. It will be a sad day indeed for the BMW and Mercedes corporate representatives when they finally get to take this car for a drive. The bar has been raised. Anyone want to buy a slightly used 2004 CTS-V? My name is on the waiting listÖ

Side note: I would personally like to thank Cadillac and D3 for dedicating the resources for the Cadillac Performance Experience. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that Cadillac would acknowledge the online Cadillac community by bringing out so many vehicles and people to answer questions about them. The event was an intimate (and free!) gathering of enthusiasts, a thrilling day of racing (Iím definitely going to run the road course next time), as well as a unique opportunity to engage in question and answer sessions with GM people in the know. All of this, in more ways than one, told me that Cadillac is listening, reading, and responding to the things we are saying both online and offline.

The video from the in-car camera/ burnout/ and other videos of the event are posted at

In Car Camera

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