Being a geek can definitely have advantages.          Last Sunday, I was one of a privileged few that were allowed (at GM’s expense) on the new Motorsports track to “evaluate” the new Cadillac CTS-V under the guidance of the Skip Barber Racing School. Normally this falls under the heading of car geek, but this car was chock full o’ electro-geek goodness.  Loaded with stability programs, algorithmic engine/transmission programs and a magnetically operated suspension, this was essentially a rolling computer. While it’s easy to dismiss Cadillac (or any Government Motors car) as being outdated, poorly built and ugly, this one makes a sincere attempt to break the mold (excepting the appearance, as it’s still ugly). What the guys at Cadillac have done is to take a Vette chassis, a slightly detuned version of the $110,000 Corvette ZR-1 engine and put it underneath a Cadillac CTS body. Admittedly this is more of a Chev-a-lac, than Cadillac, but as far as performance is concerned, who cares??? They outfitted this 4200 pound beast with six piston Brembos, the optional Recaro seats and stupidly expensive Michelin SP2 tires. The end result is a 556HP fearsome street beast. Although, on the track it runs as though it didn’t know it was a street car.

There is a racing version as well, that on this very “evaluating” day, won the 24 Hour of Lemans. And it was even further detuned than the cars I drove.

But one of the most amazing things was the suspension …. You expect thrills from 556HP and Brembos/Michelin SP2’s, but not from the suspension. They were using the highly (to put it mildly) modified MSRC, which is the Magnetic Selective Ride Control that the Vette uses. Not surprisingly, since it is a Cadillac, it allowed a decent ride, but when on the track, it functioned astoundingly well. To say that racing cars are rough is an understatement …. If your car rode like a racer, you’d be at your dealership complaining in a heartbeat. The 32-bit processor constantly allowed the car to corner flat like a racer, and still not pound your teeth out.

It’s a remarkable achievement to build a car like this, complete with a full warranty, for just over 63K. In comparison, the new almost 600HP BMW M5, while being a true engineering masterpiece, is closer to a 100K with a few options. For the 37K difference, you could buy a CTS-V and a low mileage, two year old M3 (that may well be the greatest driving car for the money on the planet).

A full day on a race track with a 556HP car, all at GMs expense ….this geek’s “evaluation” experience proves the old axiom … the best things in life are free!

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