I’d be willing to bet when you hear the words “sport sedan”, you don’t think of Cadillac and Subaru. But, these two properly matched hot rods retailing for around $45,000 are two sides of a very exciting coin. The question is, “Do you like your sport sedan with American luxury or Japanese precision?” Read on to find out.
2020 Cadillac CT4-V Shows Proper Fins To The Germans
My automotive childhood was shaped by blistering rear-drive German sport sedans like the Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 and BMW M3. They went fast and handled well while retaining iron sponge composure over rough roads. In the intervening years, the Germans decided to build compacts off front-drive architecture that are so brutally stiff as to be miserable. Fortunately, Cadillac just introduced the CT4-V – the kind of car Germany used to build.
Then and now, proper Cadillacs show at least a hint of fin. You won’t miss the CT4’s bustled butt and LED taillamps that angle into the rear fenders, but it’s a pretty sporty ride dominated by a black grille, mirrors, and ground affects. It looks especially fetching in Evergreen metallic paint that as deep as the Black Forest. A lip spoiler and 18” wheels look appropriate for this car’s sporty gent demeanor.
Like those old German cars, the interior is awash in black, but that just means this car is ready for business. It’s not all austere blackness, though, as the CT4-V welcomes passengers with heated leather sport seats up front, smooth 14-speaker Bose audio, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Drivers will appreciate clear analog gauges, rain-sensing wipers, and a heated steering wheel too. A head-up display would make it better.
Devices connect through Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. Touchscreen icons are super intuitive, but if you prefer to do it the German way, redundant controls are centered on a joywheel in the console. Or, command by voice. Safety is enhanced by forward crash mitigation braking, blind spot alert, rear cross path detection, and lane keep assist. The driver safety alert seat even vibrates in the direction of danger.
Cadillac bet its V-Series bum on supercharged V8 engines shared with Corvettes, but this one conjures its force from the Silverado pickup’s 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. You won’t laugh long because it delivers 325 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque – all routed to the all-wheel-drive system through a 10-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission. While that’s not nearly as much power as we’ve become accustomed to experiencing from CTS-Vs in recent years, it’s enough to shove the CT4-V from 0-60 mph in a mere 4.5 seconds. Fuel economy rates 20/28-MPG city/highway. I’d argue the engine seems much happier in the CT4 than the Silverado.
GM’s chassis engineers don’t get nearly enough credit. While German competitors bump and bang over anything but smooth asphalt, the Caddy takes it all in stride, soaking it up with the Magnetic Ride Control system that adjusts the suspension from on-road comfort to track day firm in milliseconds. In no mode is it harsh, which lets drivers revel in the precise balance of the CT4’s rear-drive architecture – optionally planted with all-wheel-drive. Paired with Brembo disc brakes, the car can be tossed about with your fingertips. It’s easy to believe the CT4 shares architecture with the Chevrolet Camaro.
Considering the kinds of floaty boats Cadillac once sailed, it is beyond ironic that the brash American now builds the kinds of cars for which Germany was once revered. I loved the Mercedes 190 and BMW M3 when I was young, but the Germans don’t make cars like that anymore. Cadillac does, and one might argue much better while keeping a little of its glitzy American soul. Competitors include the Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50, and Alfa Romeo Giulia.
2020 Subaru WRX STi Is So Visceral
Driving the Subaru WRX STi is such a visceral experience, from the way the shifter clicks through its gates to how the turbo whooshes the car up to speed. The clutch is heavy, steering is firm, and the all-wheel-drive system shifts torque to keep wheels digging. You do not get to just cruise to work and back; you have to work it. It’s best to drive the Series White edition, limited to just 500 units. We are lucky to have one of them.
STi stands for Subaru Technica International and this special WRX gets the in-house tuning group’s best style. Beyond the sparkling white paint, the car gains bronzed 19” BBS wheels, summer performance tires, and a rear wing with its own altitude rating. Silver finish brake calipers, Cherry Blossom Red grille accent, and LED curve-following headlamps add to the drama. The body is shared with the previous generation Impreza, and it’s due for an update, but still looks handsome with its accentuated ground affects and bulging air scoop in the hood.
Like the sheetmetal, the interior is handsome enough, but is beginning to show its age. There’s a lot of black vinyl, but also heated Recaro front seats with ultrasuede trim, thick leather-wrapped flat bottom steering wheel, and suede on the doors. The smallish touchscreen is easy to use and comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth to easily connect devices. Dual-zone automatic climate control, rear camera, and 60/40-split rear seats add conveniences, but the stereo is far from the sweet Harman Kardon systems offered in the Outback and Ascent. A complete dearth of active safety systems should be corrected in the upcoming redesign.
Driving is such a visceral experience. The 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder kicks out 310 horsepower and 290 lb.-ft. of torque – all sent to pavement through a six-speed manual transmission and standard torque-shifting all-wheel-drive. The clutch specifies leg day every day, but it unleashes power to slap the car from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Certainly not slow, but if there’s a downside, it’s fuel economy ratings of 16/22-MPG city/highway – appropriate for a full-size SUV, but quite thirsty for a compact sport sedan.
Nothing feels fragile. The sport-tuned suspension is fortified with Bilstein dampers to bound over rough pavement and grab corners by their apexes. Limited slip differentials front/rear plus a driver controlled center diff keep power flowing no matter what. Brembo brakes deploy the parachutes late into corners or when local law enforcement flashes its big radar smile. You can toss the car almost any way you want with confidence.
I could do without the sky-high batwing and pitiful fuel economy, but the rest of the WRX STi is a crack act. Sure, it could use a redesign and some interior bits are ready for a freshening, but driving it makes you forget about everything else. It’s a car that loves to be whipped, and whipped hard. I can deal with the $36,995 base price, but the $5,700 Series White option plus other kit raise the toll to a blistering $43,959. Competitors include the Hyundai Veloster N, Honda Civic Si, Cadillac CT4-V, and Tesla Model 3.
Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.
2020 Cadillac CT4-V
- Five-passenger, AWD Sedan
- Powertrain: 2.7-liter T4, 10-spd trans
- Output: 325hp/380 lb.-ft. torque
- Suspension f/r: Elect Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 18”/18” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Style, Performance
- Fuel economy: 20/28 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Lansing, MI
- Base/As-tested price: $32,995/$48,610
2020 Subaru WRX STi
- Five-passenger, AWD Sedan
- Powertrain: 2.5-liter T4, 6-spd man
- Output: 310hp/290 lb.-ft. torque
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 19”/19” BBS alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Power, Handling
- Fuel economy: 16/22 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Japan
- Base/As-tested price: $36,995/$43,959