V-Series Line Key Element of Cadillac’s Comeback Bid

“The V-Series has been, and will continue to be, the ultimate expression of design capability and engineering at Cadillac,” Cadillac Product Manager Hamden Tener says.

James M. Amend, Senior Editor

May 11, 2015

5 Min Read
Cadillac ATSV newest addition to brandrsquos highperformance line
Cadillac ATS-V newest addition to brand’s high-performance line.

CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS, TX – Now in its third generation as a high-performance halo at Cadillac, the V-Series will continue to play a critical role in rebuilding the General Motors luxury brand, says executive Hamden Tener.

“In our peak season, we were actually outselling the BMW M3 and M5 combined,” Cadillac’s product manager tells WardsAuto at a media event here to showcase the all-new ’16 ATS-V sedan and coupe, due at U.S. dealers in the coming weeks.

“But the more meaningful thing has been the fact that when we did the first generation, people asked, Why. Then they asked If we would do a second generation, and now they want to know when the third generation is coming,” he says. “So we’ve done an effective job establishing the V-Series.”

V-Series sales average about 3,000 annually in the U.S., or roughly 2% of annual sales. BMW M-Series sales accounted for 2.5% of the automaker’s 339,738 U.S. deliveries last year, while the AMG badge appeared on 3.7% of 356,136 Mercedes-Benz models.

Tener says a no-holds-barred approach must be taken to play in the upper reaches of performance luxury.

“The V-Series has been, and will continue to be, the ultimate expression of design capability and engineering at Cadillac,” Tener says. “Since its inception in 2004 with the CTS V-Series, it has driven amazing levels of performance and engagement into the brand, and we’ve improved that with every generation.”

The ATS-V coupe and sedan boast a twin-turbo 3.6L gasoline direct injection V-6 with 464 hp and 444 lb.-ft. (601 Nm) of torque packed into a 3,700-lb. (1,678-kg) body of lightweight steel, advanced aluminum and carbon fiber. Top speed is 189 mph (304 km/h).

The car receives an 8-speed automatic transmission that GM engineers consider on par with dual-clutch units for its quick shifts, plus an optional 6-speed manual gearbox with active-rev matching and no-lift shifting technologies to match engine speeds to shifts and allow drivers to keep the throttle mashed while rowing through the gears.

Other highlights include an electronic limited-slip rear differential, which improves overall traction and supports high-speed cornering; a 25% stiffer body structure and revised suspension off the base car; a specially tuned ZF electric power-steering system; and Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires with an exclusive tri-compound tread.

A rear spoiler adds 500 lbs. (227 kg) of extra downforce, compared with the previous-generation CTS-V, and the latest-generation of Magnetic Ride Control now makes suspension-damping adjustments for every inch of travel at 60 mph (97 km/h). That’s 40% faster than the previous iteration of MRC.

The exterior features a menacing hood extractor, V-Series-specific grille and front fascia, a front splitter available in a carbon-fiber package and 18-in. premium forged aluminum wheels. Inside, the cabin receives special suede seat inserts and an available suede steering wheel and shift knob.

“The ATS-V expands our bandwidth of V-Series,” Tener says. In recent years, V-Series treatments have been exclusive to the CTS sedan, coupe and wagon.

“Now it will have two different characters – the ATS-V is the smaller, lightest and most compact V-Series model. Later on, we’ll bring in its big brother the CTS-V, an express jet by comparison with mind-blowing luxury and performance.”

The ATS-V also lowers the barrier to entering the V-Series world, Tener says. With a base price of $63,600 and upwards of $74,360 as tested here, the ATS-V will not be for the everyman, but more affordable than the $84,990 GM will ask for the 640-hp CTS-V this summer.

The ATS-V is priced competitively with the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.

“We can bring in some new buyers with the ATS-V,” Tener says.

Expect additional V-Series models as Cadillac grows its lineup by eight new products, including a foray into five new segments, on the strength of a $12 billion investment by GM.

“We will continue to invest in the V-Series; it brings a younger buyers and and gets people talking about Cadillac,” Tener adds.

The V-Series also fuels the passion of engineers attached to the programs, as well as a growing enthusiast group.

“Nothing is more exciting for our engineering team than to work on these cars,” Tener says. “This is vehicle integration practiced to an art form.”

A burgeoning number of enthusiasts participate in V-Series Performance Labs, a barnstorming performance-driving school taught by Cadillac drivers. The series also targets owners of competitive makes, teaching the intricacies of acceleration and braking and the capabilities of V-Series cars.

“It’s a chance for us to explain the V, build up their skills sets and then tie (it all) together for a few laps around the track,” says Tener.

Just days after media testing of the ATS-V here, a Cadillac owner group was expected at the track for the weekend.

Cadillac also offers a performance driving academy at Spring Mountain, NV.

The ATS-V also builds enthusiasm for the brand through racing. In November, the ATS-V.R. bowed here and the 600-hp coupe began racing earlier this year.

The car meets FIA GT3 specifications, which allows the team to race outside Cadillac’s traditional Pirelli World Challenge GT Series sites and into the circuit’s 30 GT3 competitions around the world. That will help support the brand’s global sales ambitions.

It also will compete among some well-heeled company, including factory teams from Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Porsche.

“It brings us into an entirely new level of competition,” Tener says, adding that motorsports events give owners another chance to mingle and share stories. “It builds an esprit de corps for the V-Series owners.”

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