Cadillac CT6 V-Sport: 550-HP Twin-Turbo V8 and All-Wheel Drive

Cadillac revamps the big-luxury CT6 with Escala-inspired styling and a brand-new twin-turbo engine making an astounding 627 lb-ft of torque.

Cadillac just gave the CT6 an aesthetic refresh that greatly echoes the styling of the dramatic Escala concept car. And even better: There’s a new high-performance CT6 V-Sport, with an all-new twin-turbo V8 kicking out 550 horsepower.

The CT6 V-Sport, shown here, will hit the market in the first half of 2019. The CT6, you’ll recall, is the longest and most luxurious of Caddy’s sedan lineup, above the CTS, ATS, and soon-to-be-terminated XTS. It’s Cadillac’s answer to the German onslaught of luxury sedans, going toe-to-toe with 5-Series and 7-Series, E- and S-Class, and A6 and A8.

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The V-Sport trim isn’t new; the CTS and XTS have had V-Sport variants for a few years now. It’s not the highest level of performance offered by Cadillac, either. The “V” line, currently including the CTS-V and ATS-V, is sharper still, but the V-Sport trim strikes a slightly more pedestrian balance between hardcore and practical. Think M550i, not quite M5.

Also debuting is an all-new Cadillac 4.2-liter twin-turbo DOHC V8, the first of its kind for GM’s top-level luxury brand. In 550-horsepower trim, this clean-sheet engine will power the CT6 V-Sport; a lesser, 500-horsepower version will find its way to non-V-Sport models.

The notion of the “tame” version of a motor pumping out 500 horsepower is a staggering sign of the times, but we’re all for it.

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The motor features a hot-vee architecture, with the turbos nestled into the 90-degree valley between the cylinder banks. It’s an increasingly common engine layout in large sedans looking to make big power, thanks in large part to how compact it makes the entire package. Mercedes-AMG, BMW and Audi all have engines that feature this type of design, which gives minimal-lag turbo power to today’s E63s, M5s and RS7s.

Like the engines born in Affalterbach, Munich and Ingolstadt, the new Caddy powerplants will be hand-built—in this case, hailing from GM’s Bowling Green, Kentucky factory, where Corvettes are assembled. Each engine will bear a plaque noting that it was hand-crafted by one of the performance power plant team members.

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Early development numbers for the V-Sport variant are impressive, to say the least. Peak torque was quoted at 627lb-ft, coming on from 3200rpm to 4000rpm, with peak power of 550 horses arriving at the 5700rpm mark. The turbos will be running 20 lbs of boost apiece, shoving air into cylinders with a 9.8:1 compression ratio. The non-V-Sport motor makes 500 horsepower at 5000rpm and 553 lb-ft from 2600-4600rpm.

Both engines will have active fuel management systems that allow them to run on four cylinder under light load. This will be the first DOHC V8 to feature cylinder deactivation—thus far, it’s only been found on the pushrod small blocks found in everything from Escalades to Camaros to Silverados. Consumption numbers were not specified.

Power will be routed through GM’s 10-speed automatic, currently found in the Escalade and a few other vehicles in the General Motors stable; both V-Sport and base CT6 models will be all-wheel drive. While engineers note that the engine could be easily adapted to a rear-wheel drive application, there are no current plans to do so. We’ll have to wait and see whether this will replace the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 currently found in the track-stomping CTS-V, or whether something even wilder is in the pipeline.