|The four-door Cadillac CTS-V, which boasts 556 horsepower, can burn rubber yet get you down the road quietly when you lay off the gas.|
It's not every day you find a car that offers 556 horsepower and 551 foot-pounds of torque, especially one that's a four-door sedan. General Motors' ( GM) 2009 Cadillac CTS-V is taking on rival models by BMW and Daimler ( DAI), and winning. That's no small feat considering the contenders are the bratwurst-fed, 500-horsepower BMW M5 and the muscular, 507-horsepower Mercedes-Benz E63 from Daimler.
General Motors gained an edge by taking some of its most important parts from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. This helped the CTS-V reign above other sedans at the infamous Nurburgring racetrack in Germany. This dragster becomes a cruiser on the road, tackling long hauls with limited engine noise and a flexible suspension. Still, it can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds while carrying four adults. That's super-car territory. Don't get too excited: Speed takes a toll on gas consumption. After more than 1,000 miles of driving, my fuel usage slumped to 14 miles a gallon. The sound of the 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine is ferocious. But my favorite noises are the burps and pops that come when you let the revolutions per minute gradually decline. The accelerator serves more as a volume control for the engine. You can mash the pedal for a hearty rev or tap it gently if you want to hear crickets outside. This monstrous engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which can launch the car at first, second or third gear. Many contemporary gearboxes shift cars automatically into first gear at every stop, which can get annoying if you prefer second. Thankfully, this flexibility keeps tire squealing and chirping to a minimum.