It’d be easy to overlook the 2020 Cadillac CT5-V. Easy, but a mistake. The new sport sedan is one of 2020’s most pleasant surprises, graced with comfort, handling, advanced features and attractive prices.
Through no fault of the car’s, the new sport sedan’s introduction has lurched from one disaster to another: The 40-day strike against General Motors delayed production and the start of sales late last year. Then the COVID-19 pandemic brought first sales, then production to a halt.
In between, the CT5 was overshadowed by the rollout of GM’s electric vehicle strategy, which includes no less than three exciting new Cadillacs.
A person could be forgiven for forgetting about the CT5, but it deserves a look and a test drive by anybody who’s in the market for a good sport sedan.
The CT5 replaces the CTS in Cadillac’s lineup. It rolls out of the same plant in Lansing, Mich., using the second generation of the same platform.
The new car’s wheelbase is 1.4 inches longer, its overall length 1.7 inches shorter. The net effect is sharp handling, a bit more passenger room and a smidge smaller trunk.
I drove a rear-wheel-drive CT5-V for this review. The sporty model is faster and more powerful, but not to the extremes of price and performance of the old CTS-V. Don’t despair, V-series fans: pricier, more powerful models to rival previous Vs are in the works, we just don’t have any details on them yet.
The CT5 competes with the Audi A4, BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class. The CT5-V goes up against the Audi S4, BMW M340i and Mercedes-AMG C43.
The CT5-V’s twin-turbo 3.0L V6 engine develops 360 horsepower in the middle of its competitive set — and a class-leading 405 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a quick and smooth 10-speed automatic transmission that delivers sharp, definite shifts in sport mode and smooth operation in Touring, the setting for everyday driving. There are also modes for track and snow.
The driving modes adjust throttle response, engine sound, steering, shifts and the CT5-V’s standard magnetic ride adaptive suspensions.
Magnetic ride, now in its fourth generation, has added accelerometers at all four of the car’s corners. The result is faster response and smoother ride than the previous generation, which was already among the best suspensions on the road.
The car hunkered down and took off under heavy acceleration and felt secure and balanced on twisty stretches. The steering is precise and firm, with ample assist in touring mode. The CT5’s weight distributions range from 5¼9 to 54/46 front/rear, depending on engine, rear- or all-wheel drive and other features. I didn’t notice any ill effects from the slightly nose-heavy layout, possibly because sport mode’s performance traction management system neutralized them.
The brakes, which include six-piston Brembos up front, have massive stopping power and pedal feedback that makes them easy to modulate.
An electronic limited slip differential is standard on the CT5-V.
Interior features and controls
The interior looks and feels terrific. My “red obsession” — speaking as a redhead, buy me a drink first, pal — exterior paint came with black and oystershell leather seats and soft-touch black dash and door coverings with red accent stitching. The trim included aluminum speaker grilles for the Bose audio system and carbon fiber inserts. The center console is wide and roomy, with a wireless charging pad, separate holders for cups and smartphones and a big covered bin.
The control panel includes a standard 10-inch touch screen with high-def resolution and camera views for just about every conceivable angle when parking.
The audio and climate controls use refreshingly simple dials and switches, a welcome change for Cadillac. A rotary control in the center console provides access to many functions, but I found the touch screen quicker and more intuitive.
Front head, leg and shoulder room is generous. The rear seat has surprising legroom, and high cushions for a good forward view. Rear headroom is limited for passengers 6 feet and taller.
The trunk is deep from front to rear, but a narrow opening and relatively high floor will make it hard to load large objects.
Depending on features, the CT5’s leading competitors generally cost several thousand dollars more than the new Cadillac.
CT5 prices start at $36,895 for a rear-drive model with a 237-hp 2.0L four-cylinder turbo. AWD raises the tab to $39,495. A 3.0L V6 producing 335 hp and 400 lb-ft is available starting at $44,195. All-wheel drive is available on all models.
My rear-drive CT5-V had a base price of $47,695. Options including navigation, Bose audio, head up display, high beam assist, parking assist, camera rear view mirror, 19-inch alloy wheels and red Brembo calipers raised the price as tested to $59,195.
All prices exclude destination charges.