A trend has developed over the last few years among luxury automakers, an increasing variety of performance options. Brands with special performance divisions, like Mercedes-Benz’s AMG, BMW’s M, Lexus’ F, and Cadillac’s V-Series, have all shown they can build some serious track-tuned cars. These models draw people into the showrooms and give the brands credibility, but not everyone wants one of these purpose-built racers for a daily driver. Still, some luxury shoppers want a sporty look and crisp handling characteristics rather than a cushy cruiser, so each of these companies has established performance-oriented sub-brands and offers sport packages. At the Chicago Auto Show, you can see all the choices buyers have to tailor luxury cars to their preferences.
Cadillac’s latest introductions come from the high-performance V-Series lineup. “Cadillac needs to be aggressively in the market of performance edition cars equally capable and beautiful as those from Mercedes, BMW, and Audi,” said Tom Van Prooyen, vice president of Schepel Cadillac in Merrillville. “They nailed it with the CTS-V and ATS-V. They look like thoroughbred racecars. Horsepower and performance has increased. They are being sought out by enthusiasts.”
The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is the most powerful Cadillac ever, with a twin-turbocharged 6.2-liter V8 cranking out 640 horsepower and 630-lb.-ft. of torque. It is capable of a top speed of 200 mph and 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds. You’ll recognize the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V by its carbon fiber hood and unique front and rear fascia and other aerodynamic accouterments. Cadillac’s eight-speed automatic keeps the engine in its optimum rpm band, and will help save some fuel along with other items like Active Fuel Management.
This system deactivates cylinders when all that power is not needed. Cadillac’s third generation Magnetic Ride Control reads the road and changes the suspension stiffness in milliseconds.
Another set of choices in the Cadillac stable is the Vsport models. One of our favorite drives last year was the CTS Vsport. It takes a more contemporary approach to performance with a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 producing a still-impressive 420 horsepower.
Lexus first entered the performance car arena with the formidable IS F sedan in 2008, then wowed the crowds with the LF-A supercar in 2012.
For those who want a toned-down version, Lexus offers eight F SPORT models. A line of F SPORT appearance and performance accessories is available. “Take our new RC coupe.
The RC F SPORT is more of a cosmetic package,” said Pete Takacs, general manager of Lexus of Merrillville. “There’s a different aggressive looking grille. It has a flair to the body lines with hood scoops and a spoiler. Then there’s the RC F. That car is a rocket with 467 horsepower. It has carbon fiber panels and speed activated spoiler.”
Lexus followed up this January with the GS F for 2016. Based on the midsize GS sedan, the GS F has the 467-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The body structure is reinforced to handle all that power and to give a firm foundation for the exclusive suspension developed on racetracks in Japan and Europe. Wider 19-inch wheels and enhanced brakes round out the specifications.
Head over to the Mercedes-Benz stand and you might get a look at the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT sports car, launching in the US this spring. AMG has been performance tuning Mercedes-Benz models since 1967, and now has their mark on several cars and SUVs. Detroit just saw the launch of the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe 4MATIC, an interesting blend of a coupe-like roof on the GLE-Class SUV platform, powered by a 5.5-liter 577-horspower V8. A more conventional debut was the Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG 4MATIC in that is a traditional sedan. However, it is only the second AMG model with V6 power. Also, it shows the AMG cars continuing to advance into all-wheel drive offerings, both examples of a broad-based portfolio.
We were thoroughly impressed with a test drive of the all-new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC. Not an AMG model, it did have the Sport Package which featured a sport suspension, and AMG logo wheels and floor mats among other touches.