This isn't your Daddy's Caddy — it's a race car with Cadillac crests.
That's why the brand chose Willow Springs International Raceway in this city outside Los Angeles to show off its new ATS-V, a nimble sport sedan stuffed with a 464-horsepower twin-turbo V-6.
The company says this hot rod, starting at $61,465, targets a younger buyer and bridges the gap between the larger CTS luxury supercar and the entry-level ATS.
The day at Willow Springs' 2.5-mile track started early, with a light breeze riffling the flags over the pits. A dozen journalists were herded into an air-conditioned tent for a primer on the new vehicle's stats.
They're impressive. The ATS-V, with 445 pound-feet of torque, rushes from zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds and tops out at 189 mph. It's fitted with sophisticated suspension, transmission and braking systems that make it a capable track car.
To prove that point, Cadillac reps put us in helmets, belted us into ATS-Vs and led us on three medium-speed guided laps around the highly technical track.
Then, without further instruction, under what had become a triple-digit desert sun, they turned us loose.
I've logged some track time on motorcycles but never in a car.
Despite that, within minutes I was Hot Laps Houlihan, as much impressed by the ATS-V as I was by my ability to get the car around the course without running it into a wall.
The Caddy stuck to that track like a bum on a bologna sandwich, artfully managing even the off-camber uphill turn 3 and the off-camber downhill turn 5.
I was no High Plains Drifter, but I found the back end slid in a nicely controlled fashion around the tighter turns and accelerated out of the slides without bucking or dancing. Braking and shifting were seamless and unobtrusive, doing their jobs with no drama.
As a Willow newbie, I clocked only 95 mph on the back stretch and 120 mph on the front straightaway. (I heard bolder drivers boasting they'd hit 135 mph.) At no speed did I experience any unwelcome shudder or vibration, even when I was standing hard on the brake pedal coming off the straightway and into turn 1.
This Caddy underscores its track cred by including — for customers who plunk down an additional $6,195 for the "Track Performance Package" — an options suite that will record lap times, measure top speeds and zero-to-60 mph runs, and even capture video of the car as it roars around the circuit.
It will even record the driver's in-cabin shrieks of excitement — or terror.
The Detroit News