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Old 06-22-2012, 01:34 AM
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Arrow Road & Track: 2013 M5 vs 2012 Cadillac CTS-V

2013 BMW M5 vs. 2012 Cadillac CTS-V - Comparison Test
Forced-induction fisticuffs, with combatants from America and Germany.

By Shaun Bailey


Itís tough to be the king. Sit upon a throne long enough and someoneís bound to come along and try to knock you offóas was the case in the summer of 2008 when Cadillac released its all-new CTS-V to challenge the nearly 4-year-old sports sedan king, the BMW M5 (2009 Cadillac CTS-V vs. 2008 BMW M5 SMG). It was a historic moment that has helped to redefine Cadillacís image. GMís luxury division made no bones about it in 2008, as it specifically developed the CTS-V to knock the 2005Ė2010 E60 M5 off its pedestal. BMW graciously rose to the challenge and fought it out with the upstart on the racetrack, the BMW driven by Bill Auberlen and the CTS-V by John Heinricy. Not surprisingly, the CTS-V narrowly edged out the M5. If it hadnít, we suspect someone in Cadillacís engineering department would have been fired. Fast forward and BMW is now ready for some payback with its new F10 M5.


This time, however, weíve skipped inviting the pro drivers in favor of driving ourselves. We wrangled up the first manual-transmission BMW M5 in the U.S. and took it to Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, where the CTS-Vónow in its fourth yearóstoically waited to get its clock cleaned. Turnabout is fair play, and the boys at Cadillac know it; itís put up or shut up with these two. As icing on the cake, we did some back-road driving and then performed acceleration testing on the 7-speed MDCT-equipped M5 for good measure. On track, itís all about the 6-speed manuals and an apples-to-apples comparison brawl that left these two blacker and bluer than when they arrived.



Just like the last go-around, the CTS-V is black and little has changed in the time since its introduction. Nothing, at least, that should significantly affect its track performance. Itís a seductive devil with a roaring supercharged 6.2-liter pushrod V-8 combined with the conventional luxury trappings of any modern Cadillac. In short, itís a 4-door Corvette with ventilated bucket seats.

A quick scan of the data reveals that the M5 has smacked the CTS-V over the head and retaken the throne with a lap time that bettered the CTS-Vís by 1.43 seconds. A crushing blow for sure, and if youíve already skipped ahead to evaluate the points, something might seem amiss since the point split between these two is less than one. Itís because of the subjective metrics where we rated the Cadillac higher primarily because it remains truer to the concept of a spirited sports sedan.



Having been created specifically to rival the previous-generation BMW M5, the Cadillac CTS-V shares many of that carís fundamental qualities, but wherever possible the Cadillac team tried to improve the total package. This is particularly evident in our test car, which is a top-of-the-line specimen. Loaded with Black Diamond Tricoat paint, Recaro seats and suede steering wheel and shift knob, itís ready to strut its 556 bhp and demonstrate what 551 lb.-ft. of torque can do to some unsuspecting Michelin Pilot Sport tires. Itís a sedan that tries hard to drive like a smaller and lighter car. For the most part, it succeeds, splitting the difference between comfort and sport well.

Without driver restraint, the tires can vaporize in an instant. The V is just so eager to run, itís hard to drive it in a civil manner. Even on back roads, it begs to let its supercharger sing. The manual transmission welcomes high-revving downshift blips and allows for no-lift up-shifts that not only provide superb forward thrust, but wow passengers with sheer brutality. Thereís a race car under this mass of leather, wood and steel eager to be let out. Executive Editor Patrick Hong particularly likes the brakes that are superbly responsive lap after lap, imparting the utmost in confidence.

If youíve been keeping tabs you may have realized that Tommy Milner in the base 425-bhp Corvette Coupe from our February Corvette Fever test posted a 1:23.50 lap time at this same track, and thatís 1 full second slower than the CTS-V we just ran, and Iím not Tommy, underscoring the comment that this is a 4-door Corvette.


The Cadillac CTS-V is fabulous, performing like a sports car while purporting to be a luxury sedan. Does it have shortcomings? Yes, we found the navigation system to be showing its age and the wheels could be shod with better rubber. The tires were superb at the time of introduction; in fact, they matched what the BMW M5 rolled on. But BMW has upped the ante with Michelin Pilot Super Sports, a sticky new tire that clearly has given the performance edge to the new M5. Nevertheless, the Bavarian is numb and quiet in comparison to the verve and vigor that is the CTS-V. If you secretly want a Corvette, but need a sedan, the Cadillac CTS-V is your car.



When you get right down to it, the M5 isnít what it used to be, and thatís immediately clear when you open the trunk. Youíll need spelunking gear to explore its depths. The new M5 is longer, wider and heavier, but amazingly, it performs better too. That performance is achieved with uncharacteristic isolation. The world is tuned out from the inside of the new M5, to the point that even engine noise must be enhanced with the audio system. It all makes for an uncomfortable silence.

After the initial hot laps in the M5, we were unimpressed. It feels ponderous in tight corners and the chassis only provides a modicum of communication, but surprise, the very first lap time in the M5 demolished the CTS-Vís. Feeling fast is truly not the same as being fast. The best example of exactly how isolated the driver is from the road are the brakes. Massive calipers clamp on floating rotors when decelerating from 110 mph down the back straight, the ABS is fully invoked and there is nothing felt. No pulsations in the brake pedal, no yaw resistance in the superbly thick steering wheel, and only a hint at the tiresí grip limit coming through the seat of the pants. To drive the M5 fast requires trust in the electronics and being sensitive to the gentlest of feedback in the steering wheel and chassis. Where the CTS-V does little to hide its performance-car roots, the M5 buries them under a mound of opulent isolation. We didnít know it was possible to do that!

Outside of the track, the M5 was heavenly. Its 560-bhp twin-turbo V-8 packs a walloping 500 lb.-ft. of torque that starts at an amazingly low 1500 rpm. It dices traffic better than a Ginsu at work on a boiled carrot. The numbers donít show it, but the CTS-V simply canít compete with that broad torque curve.

As has become the M way, there are myriad adjustments to change the dampers, the steering effort and throttle response, so why not one to turn up the engine noise inside the car? In contrast, the CTS-V is simplicity itself with its 2-mode Magnetic Ride Control suspension and 3-mode stability system. Thankfully, in the BMW you can call up all your preset preferences on two steering-wheel-mounted M buttons. I naturally set one for full race, with the stability disabled, and everything set to max performance, including the head-up display that showed a full-color set of shift lightsóa beautiful thing, if not as Knight Rider-themed as the trick light tracers on the CTS-Vís analog tachometer.

Weíre ignoring the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission in our analysis. Itís a no-cost option and only makes the M5 better. As much as we like manual transmissions, itís hard to argue with the MDCT and its blistering acceleration numbers. We can only theorize how much quicker it would make the M5 on the track, maybe a half-second or more. But for the purist, the 6-speed is the thing of dreams. These traditional gearboxes work equally well in both cars, yet like most things in the M5, it feels a little softer than you might want for an M model.

And that pretty much sums up the M5: Itís been refined. And for that weíre thankful for the CTS-V and its uncouth raucousness. However, if luxury sport sedan means quiet, comfortable and fast, then the M5 is an absolute must. The M5 has begun a new era of performance that refuses to sacrifice comfort. Long live the king.





Sometimes a car is slower than it feels, and other times itís faster. This is one of the latter. The CTS-V is immensely capable and provides the feedback weíve come to expect from a sports sedan. But weíve learned what a superb sports sedan should feel like from the BMW M5. So hereís the monkey wrench that BMW has hit us over the head with: The newest M5 has lost much of that feel as it has been made more comfortable. But in the process of isolating the driver from the road, BMW engineers have made the car much quicker. Take a look at the data and see how they did it.

A - For starters, the M5 powers across the starting line and achieves a 5-mph advantage into the first corner. This is partly due to the CTS-Vís hitting the top of 3rd and needing a shift to 4th briefly.

B - The difference in this off-camber corner is grip. The M5, with its custom Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, provided 0.07g more lateral grip than the CTS-V could on its older, smaller and less tacky Michelin Pilot Sports. We can guess that the next evolution of the CTS-V will include updated rubber.

C - A long 2-3 shift in the M5 delays entry to the tightest corner of the track; however, it stops quicker and pulls harder out of the corner than the CTS-V. From the driverís seat, the M5 pushes through the corner while the CTS-V cuts a balanced slice through the apex. Thus, itís a surprise that the M5 is so much quicker. Weíll chalk it up to the BMWís Active M differential and tires.

D - A short shift here before a gut-checking dip is necessary. Each sedan takes it well, with their respective electronically adjustable dampers stabilizing the landing. But itís the M5ís stability that allows it to carry more speed into this fast right-hander with a rise to the apex at the crest.

E - At the crest, the M5 is pulling 1.05g, a significant 0.10g more than the CTS-V. This allowed the BMW to open up a big gap. Here, even though the M5 feels stable, the CTS-V isnít afraid to yaw, and requires its driver to keep hands at the ready for when it does.

F - With similar speeds down the straight, itís no surprise that braking is important. The nod here goes to the CTS-V with more predictable braking manners. The decreasing-radius turn that follows is notoriously unfriendly to a car that understeers. The M5 requires its driver to be painfully patient, while the CTS-V can get on the gas much earlier. But the grip of the M5 keeps the fight close, only yielding a hundredth of second.

G - The CTS-V is able to eke out an extra 2.5 mph down the short chute thanks to its advantage in segment F. When it gets to the tight left, though, the BMW pulls a surprisingly high 1.11g, which is again 0.10g higher than the CTS-V. Are we sensing a pattern here?

H - Just as these cars have different levels of grip, they also require different racing lines. The CTS-V prefers the tighter line, with emphasis on its ability to shorten distances with tidy steering. The M5 is all about opening up a corner and late apexing. Patience is hugely rewarded once the go pedal hits the floor.

I - The tighter corner doesnít favor the M5ís extra grip as much as weíd have thought. It has only a 0.03g advantage, and that lets the CTS-V keep pace.

J - The Cadillac navigates this high-speed right-hander better than the M5, but canít keep the lead due to the overwhelmingly wide torque curve of the M5. The BMW just pulls amazingly hard from any rpm.

In My Opinion

On the track, the Cadillac CTS-V hits all the right notesógood power, livelier chassis and steering feel. That is until you look at the lap times and realize that the BMW M5 is much faster, and achieves that speed in a more civilized manner. This is even more evident on the road, where the M5ís ride is daily-commute friendly and the CTS-V beats you up a bit. My overall pick goes to the M5.
óPatrick Hong
Executive Editor



The M5 is the best-handling 7 Series BMW has ever made. Yeah, I know itís a 5 Series, but itís just so big, and soft, and comfortable and stomping fast. Itís high-performance luxury at its pinnacle, and for that reason Iíll take the CTS-V. Itís a sports sedan like the previous-generation BMW M5, where driver interaction and enjoyment take precedence over passenger comfort and isolation.
óShaun Bailey
Associate Engineering Editor
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Old 06-25-2012, 04:00 PM
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M5


Wow is all I can say
Thanks for posting and confirming M5 on top!!!
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Old 06-25-2012, 07:54 PM
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I see a test drive in my future.


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Old 06-27-2012, 06:22 PM
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I am starting to have somewhat of a bag of mixed feelings about the M5. The Car and Driver article really put it in perspective.

The new M5 has radically departed from the previous high-strung V10 M5. Almost too much. Too much into the luxury and comfort direction.

Don't know... Might have to go the M3 route. Or maybe 911 turbo
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