Year after year, Cadillac demonstrates a startling, Benjamin Button–like tendency to age in reverse, transforming from a straitlaced old money marque into a brand that increasingly lights up the eyes of younger, trendier, and decidedly more performance-minded drivers. Derived from the already acclaimed CTS four-door, the CTS-V sedan arrived for the 2010 model year as the most powerful Cadillac in the century-old brand’s storied history—and the fastest by a long shot.
This summer, Cadillac debuted a V-spec version of its dazzling CTS Coupe, and now, the company completes a high-performance triptych with its most surprising model yet, the CTS-V wagon. Like the V-spec CTS sedan and coupe, the wagon carries beneath its swollen hood a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 rated at a stupefying 556 horsepower and 551 foot-pounds of torque. The engine, essentially a milder version of the 638-horsepower V-8 that powers the mighty Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, is matched to a six-speed manual gearbox or a smooth six-speed automatic.
It allows the world’s most outrageous wagon to hit 60 mph from a standstill in a mere 3.9 seconds—quicker than a Porsche 911 GT3—and push on to a top speed of 176 mph. GM’s talented Magnetic Ride Control manages body motions during spirited driving, and huge vented discs by Brembo provide prodigious stopping power. Inside, suede-like accents and unique gauges set an appropriately fearsome mood, and the wagon’s stylishly creased sheet metal encloses a generous 25 cubic feet of cargo space (58 cubic feet with the rear seats folded).