Fifteen years ago, Cadillac took a momentous leap by debuting the V-Series, establishing a legacy of refined athleticism conveyed through a succession of acclaimed, distinctive and luxurious American performance sedans.
In a bold move for a brand that was still establishing its performance street cred, the preview for the inaugural 2004 CTS-V was held at Germany’s famed Nűrburgring race course. It was a first for Cadillac, but the CTS-V was a Cadillac like no other. It was the most powerful car the brand had ever produced at 400 horsepower and was offered only with a manual transmission.
“From the very beginning, Cadillac’s V-Series represented the ultimate expression of our design, technology and performance,” said Mark Reuss, GM president. “It introduced an entirely new breed of performance-minded customers to Cadillac showrooms and helped transform the brand’s traditional image into one with different facets for customers’ varying driving tastes.”
The V-Series family tree grew to include five vehicle platforms: CTS, XLR, STS, ATS and CT6, with more planned. Including today’s CT6-V, each offered a unique expression of performance and shared a heritage of racing-bred aesthetics and technologically advanced driving dynamics.
“V-Series is a philosophy as much as the unique components comprising each variant,” said Brandon Vivian, Cadillac executive chief engineer. “That means the various V-Series models offer distinctive driving experiences, but always distilled through Cadillac’s unique perspective on spirited performance.”
The scope of what Cadillac could offer evolved from the original V-Series lineup into today’s strategy, where design and performance distinctions are tailored for customers’ preferences for traditional luxury or sport-oriented looks. The V-Series is intended for sport-minded customers, offering enhanced performance capability.
2004 – CTS-V (first generation)
The first CTS-V set many precedents as the first project developed by General Motors’ special vehicle performance team, established in 2002 under the direction of Ken Morris. A 5.7L V-8 rated at 400 horsepower (and later a 6.0L V-8) helped deliver 0-60 times of about 4.6 seconds, while the CTS-V’s Nűrburgring-honed handling elicited words such as “superb” from the press. The CTS-V also established a performance design aesthetic that continues with today’s models, including mesh grilles and darkened exterior trim.
2006 – XLR-V
The V-Series version of Cadillac’s two-seat grand tourer was one of the most powerful cars of its day, thanks to a supercharged V-8 rated at 443 hp that established the legacy of forced induction — whether by supercharging or turbocharging — employed on every V-Series model that followed. The XLR-V was produced through 2009.
2006 – STS-V
Based on a stretched and widened version of the solid architecture that underpinned the CTS-V, the STS-V’s notable features included staggered 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels, Performance Algorithm Shifting and ZF Servotronic II steering — one of the brand’s first applications of electric power steering. Power came from a 469-hp version of the supercharged V-8 found in the XLR-V. The STS-V was produced through 2009.
2009 – CTS-V (second generation)
Building on the success of its predecessor, the second-gen CTS-V upped the performance ante with an all-new supercharged V-8 engine rated at 556 hp, which enabled a nearly 200-mph top speed on a test track. It was also the first to include Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control adaptive damping suspension, which has since appeared on every V-Series model. Countless test laps were run around the Nűrburgring, with one of them clicked off in less than 8 minutes on the 12-mile-long Nordschleife (North Loop) — a record at the time for a V-8-powered sedan on production street tires.
2011 – CTS-V Coupe and Wagon
As dynamic in styling as performance, the CTS-V Coupe and Wagon variants have already achieved cult status among performance aficionados. Each featured the same supercharged V-8 and track-tuned chassis as the sedan. The CTS-V wagon’s rarity – only 1,764 produced over a four-year run – makes it particularly sought-after today.
2016 – CTS-V (third generation)
The third iteration was a decidedly more track-focused performer. Its handling prowess was enhanced by the four-mode Performance Traction Management system, which allowed the driving experience to be tailored to different conditions, including a race track. Power came from a supercharged and direct-injected V-8 rated at 640 hp, making it the most powerful Cadillac ever with a top track speed of more than 200 mph.
2016 – ATS-V Coupe and Sedan
These were the first V-Series to employ turbocharging, and like the third-generation CTS-V, each leveraged electronically controlled technologies including an electronic limited slip rear differential to support true track capability. The 464-hp turbocharged V-6 offered a distinctive performance experience and added depth and breadth to the V-Series lineup. Capabilities included 0-60 times of fewer than 4 seconds and a top track speed of nearly 190 mph.
2019 – CT6-V
The CT6-V sedan returns the V-Series to its grand touring roots, while advancing its performance technology legacy with an all-new Blackwing 4.2L twin-turbocharged V-8 rated at a Cadillac-estimated 550 horsepower. Effortless street and canyon road performance is the focus for CT6-V, delivered through its responsive, AWD-enabled handling and driver-focused technologies echoing the V-Series’ 15-year performance legacy. The CT6-V signals a further expansion and elevation of things to come for V-Series, including the expansion of AWD capability.
FAST FACT: The CT4 and CT5 V-Series will make their global debut in Detroit on May 30, representing the next chapter in the V-Series family. And this is only the beginning.