2011 Lingenfelter Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

2011 Lingenfelter Cadillac CTS-V Coupe 2011 Lingenfelter Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
Specialty File TESTED

Like Red Bull–quaffing preteens laying waste to digital innocents by the dozens in Grand Theft Auto, we’re being desensitized. It isn’t graphic violence we’re being hardened against, though; it’s gratuitous horsepower. Outputs that once stopped us in our tracks and slackened our jaws now merit an entitled shrug. Well, good. A Cadillac needs 556 hp to, you know, feel like a Cadillac. But 700 is one of those numbers that still widens our eyes and brings a silent “wow” to our lips. Seven hundred hp is a reality check.

Reality Checks and Real Checks

For a surprisingly small sum, the laboratories at Lingenfelter Performance Engineering will amplify the 6.2-liter LSA V-8 under the hood of the Cadillac CTS-V from the stock 556 hp to a reality-check 700. Just $11,470 gets you an increase in maximum supercharger boost from 9.0 psi to 14.5, a new camshaft, new fuel injectors, and overhauled heads. Included in the reconstructive surgery are a port and polish and new valves, springs, and retainers. Cadillac is unlikely to honor the warranty on cars that emerge from Lingenfelter’s shop in Decatur, Indiana, which is why the tuner covers the engine and its upgrades with a two-year/24,000-mile guarantee. (We want to be the guy putting 12,000 miles a year on his 700-hp Caddy.)

Although Lingenfelter lists the $1400 Corsa exhaust that was fitted to this siege engine as a separate option, go ahead and consider that a necessary expense. It’s so good we can’t share with you how good it is. Its assault on our audio equipment was so fierce that we couldn’t get a reasonable recording to share. Imagine the sound of a demon with a pair of V-8s for lungs sucking your eardrums through one of those large-volume straws you get at Burger King. (Easy, right?) At idle, you can practically hear individual combustion events, and the rollicking blub-blubblub-blub-blub will already have the faint of heart reconsidering their decision to strap in. The way the LSA rocks the car at stoplights isn’t a T-Rex-walking-by, muscle-car shimmy, but it’s still a pleasant throwback.

Hold On to Something, We’re Going Hypersonic

But no worthy pilot drives a 700-hp car for its idle. That output isn’t merely a reality check, it’s a gut check. With the stock six-speed manual slotted into first gear, throttle inputs of more than 70 or so percent get earmarked for tire smoke, but once this raging machine gets traction, it reels in the horizon like few other cars on the road. The test results might be a bit misleading. The Lingenfelter’s 3.9-second 0-to-60 time is no better than the best we recorded from a stock CTS-V coupe (with the six-speed automatic), and the 11.8-second quarter-mile bests that car by only 0.4 second. But the 7-mph increase in trap speed is telling. From 60 mph to 140, the Lingenfelter CTS-V virtually mirrors the 10-mph increment times of one of the industry’s reigning accelerative champions, the Porsche 911 Turbo. A 700-hp tuned car matching Porsche’s factory effort might not seem like a big deal, but the CTS-V is heavier by about 700 pounds. Besides, the Porsche costs a lot more, and it doesn’t sound at all like a demon.

From the driver’s seat, pushing the Lingenfelter feels abusive. The modified LSA makes so much power at 4000 rpm that the driver feels as if a shift should be imminent (it betters the stock CTS-V’s 556-hp peak from 4300 rpm on), but Lingenfelter’s changes to the engine raise its redline from the stock 6200 rpm to 6800. What the company hasn’t done is change the programming of the shift lights surrounding the tach—engineers tell us they’re looking into it—that start blinking as the normal car’s redline nears. So after being crushed, wide-eyed, into the seat for a mind-altering pull through each gear, you have to ignore the shift light for a prolonged period. (Compulsive feints toward the shifter at first blink are forgivable.)

Again, there are incredible numbers behind these awe-inspiring feats. From 2000 rpm until about 6600, this car puts out more torque than the stock V does at its peak of 551 lb-ft at 3800 rpm. Lingenfelter’s LSA makes more than 600 lb-ft from about 2200 rpm to 5900 or so. And from about 2400 rpm all the way to 5000, it’s generating more than 650 lb-ft of grunt. This engine doesn’t so much have a torque curve as it has a straight line across the dyno chart—a very high, straight line.

Six Gears, Most of Them Extraneous

At highway speeds, downshifting will get you to higher speeds in a hurry, but it is entirely optional. Notice how the car is actually 1.4 seconds faster from 50 to 70 mph than it is from 30 to 50 (this test is performed with the car in top gear). The engine is just hitting its stride at 70. We don’t formally record results for higher speeds in the top-gear test, but the 70-to-90 and 90-to-110 times follow a similar pattern. Even in sixth, the pull of this engine is addictive. You don’t need cruise control for comfort; you need it because a lazy flex of the ankle could land you in the back seat of a police cruiser. It’s another reason to go with the Corsa exhaust. No change in engine load goes unnoticed.

As Hennessey did with the 707-hp CTS-V sedan we recently tested, Lingenfelter left the chassis unmodified. Although the thought of throwing a 700-hp car into a sharp bend might seem imposing, the Lingenfelter CTS-V is incredibly tractable. (We even drove it in the rain and didn’t die.) Cranking on the wheel while stomping on the accelerator at corner entry is not recommended unless you have an EMT fetish, but once the car settles in a curve, you can feed it surprising amounts of throttle alarmingly early without its getting out of sorts. On the skidpad, this car bested the stock V coupe by 0.02 g, with a 0.92 performance. And the repeatability of the 156-foot stop from 70 to 0 mph is welcome, as the next corner will be coming up in a hurry.

The CTS-V coupe’s base price of $64,535 and the cost of entry for the Lingenfelter bits mean you could be sitting behind the wheel of your own 700-hp Cadillac for $76,005. With a couple of extras installed at the factory, the car tested here sported a few of Lingenfelter’s add-ons, including the mean black anodized aluminum pedals and aforementioned exhaust system that represent an additional $1570 and shouldn’t be considered optional. Big-ticket items included a Lingenfelter carbon-fiber engine cover for $1195 and a laser-etched shock-tower brace for $350. Add in a carbon-fiber intake tube ($90), chrome Lingenfelter fender badges ($44) and license-plate frame ($35), and Brembo brake fluid ($36), and you’re looking at $80,915.

Horsepower: A Better Investment Than a Hyundai

That price could put you in a BMW 6-series, Porsche 911 (without turbos), or Jaguar XK, none of which is half as frightening or awe-inspiring as the Lingenfelter CTS-V. Or if you already have a CTS-V, the $11,470 cost of the Lingenfelter package could buy the kids a nice used car. But if it were our family, we’d get the kids a Huffy and spend that money on horsepower. Come to think of it, we’re starting to take our 556-hp long-term CTS-V wagon for granted. We could probably use a reality check.