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Forget everything you know about Cadillac V

Autoblog logo Autoblog 5/31/2019 Zac Palmer
a red car parked on the side of a building: Cadillac is changing what V means in its lineup.

Cadillac rolled out the CT4-V and CT5-V performance sedans to a rather confused group of journalists last month. What are these cars? Only 355 horsepower in the CTS-V replacement? And just 320 horsepower for the ATS-V successor? Surely, there's something out of place — you can get up to speed with all the details here. Cadillac understood our confusion and explained what was going on rather quickly. The explanation means you have to forget everything you know about what "V" means for a Cadillac, though.

Related Video: 2020 Cadillac CT5-V and CT4-V pump-up the V-Series performance sedan lineup (Provided by Roadshow)

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Any Cadillac with the singular "V" badge on it previously has denoted the absolute top-tier of performance for that particular model. The CTS-V had the Corvette Z06 engine in it and made 640 horsepower. The ATS-V had a boosted 3.6-liter V6 good for a raucous 464 horsepower. They were equivalent to BMW M, Mercedes-AMG or an Audi RS. We're not talking about the lesser M or AMG models, either. No, the last Cadillac Vs were meant to compete with cars like the C63 or M3, the top-tier of performance in those brands' lineups. This is where you're going to have to start re-learning, because that's no longer the case for a Cadillac with a V badge gracing the rear end.

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What Cadillac has essentially done is demote what V means, with the intention of offering "something else" above it. With this new strategy, we'd equate a Cadillac V to something like an AMG 43, M340i, or Audi with an S badge on it. Cadillac has even come out with a car similar to this strategy before in the V-Sport. That didn't confuse everybody, though, because the name was different, and the strategy was clear. Now, Cadillac V is just a small stepping stone to these mysterious high performance cars still to come. We asked for any information concerning these future track-ready, fire-breathing monsters, but mum is the word for now. The naming strategy for something above a V is uncharted territory, and it'll also force everyone to learn what the top of the Cadillac lineup is all over again.

Why confuse folks like this? Cadillac wants to take advantage of the V brand cache in more of its lineup than just two super sedans. Think future vehicles like an XT5-V, XT4-V and others like that. Now that V doesn't mean a Nurburgring-conquering 500+ horsepower luxury muscle car, it makes it far easier for Cadillac to get V badges on everything. Obviously, GM isn't the first to think of this strategy. Both AMG and M badges used to be rare and reserved for only a few models, but now you can find them littered throughout both the Mercedes and BMW lineup in places we never would have thought they'd be 20 years ago.

More Vs is the advantage here. But diluting what V means is a big disadvantage of this move. BMW, Mercedes and Audi all kept their top-tier performance car names when going through this transition. Mercedes briefly started out making AMG Sports (that didn't work) before going headlong into the AMG 43, 53 and 63 performance system we have now. Perhaps much of this confusion could have been avoided if Cadillac had introduced the supposed faster models first, and then introduced these V Lite variants. Everybody would be happy that they could get some of the goodies from a full-on V with manageable horsepower and a reasonable price. We expect these hotter cars to eventually be introduced, but it's the uncertainty around them, and the total 180 on V that forces doubt into all our minds about this move.

Forget everything you know about Cadillac V originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 31 May 2019

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