Illustration for article titled Test Drive Shootout: BMW E90 M3 vs Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

After getting an amazing amount of help today through suggestions from my fellow Oppos in thinking of possible cars that could be my next "one car to rule them all" and tackle being a DD, AutoX, track day and road trip steed I decided to go commence the test driving.


Today's nominees were a 2009 E90 M3 Sedan and a 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. I'll cut to the chase and say this was a helluva satisfying start.


Winner: I have to give the M3 a slight edge here.

I love that Cadillac stepped WAY outside of the box on the Coupe and made it completely unique from the Sedan and a car that looks like nothing else on the road plus giving it a look that seems far closer to a concept car than most production cars can ever dream of being. But the M3 has some of the best curves ever found on a Beemer and that just suit my eye to a tee.



Winner: CTS-V, by a mile.

I'll just lay it out there; BMW interiors have never gotten me excited. I am not pragmatic and therefore probably not the audience the Germans had in mind when rolling out one more in a long line of austere inter............. sorry fell asleep thinking about the interior. I also wasn't a fan of how counter-intuitive the placement and usage of some of the controls were, but I am sure it is a fast learning curve. I did think the new iDrive system was light years better than the old one and the GPS/audio unit was good.


The Cadillac interior was just more luxurious and modern. It was instantly usable on all fronts/features, had a great GPS and incredible audio all in a better looking package. It just looked better and felt better from center console to seats to steering wheel. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the seats directly, they are just about perfect and when combined Magnetic Ride Control are a dream.


Winner: Tie

No losers here, just two polar opposite tour de force winners. This all comes down to preference. The BMW's high revving, orgasmic sounding V8 was an absolute blast to drive and left you looking for every opportunity to wind it out or sit in the high rpm's and bask in them. The CTS-V has smuggled a tank engine under the hood. OH MY GOD THE TORQUE. The sheer amount of usable power flowing to your right foot is addictive in the best of ways.


You punch the BMW and you feel things start to happen predictably, smooth and fast and you picture yourself at Monaco drinking milk on a winner's podium. You punch the CTS-V and your spine turns to mashed potatoes, everything around turns blurry and you fade into a dream of charging headfirst into the Persian army wearing a gladiator costume and an ear consumingly wide smile. The CTS-V comes for scalps with a broadsword and wears steel toed boots to bed, just in case things get rowdy at night.

When it comes to the transmissions it is more of the same. The Caddy is much smoother in automatic mode but cannot touch the instantaneous response of the DCT in the BMW. They are worlds apart, but both very suited to their powerplants. I would actually love to know how the CTS-V would perform with a DCT or PDK.



Winner: Cadillac CTS-V takes it by a nose.

This was the upset I didn't see coming. In my 25 minute test drive of each car on identical circuits through highway, back road and city street I just kept smiling in both cars. Both are incredible, but the Caddy had the most range. In Touring mode it was like being in a pure luxury tourer and in sport mode it hid every ounce of that cars weight and was down for anything. I've always held BMW's as the benchmark for steering feedback in their class but the Caddy nipped it in this comparison and I found no area of handling I didn't prefer the CTS-V. I'd say that my experience may be different on a track, but the Nürburgring lap times say different so I've got to go off of what I could muster in city limits while keeping a license.



I went to that dealer wholly and solely to drive the E90 M3. I only ended up driving the Caddy after being prodded into doing so by the saleswoman. I can't say exactly when I ended up liking the Caddy better. It could have been when I first crawled into the interior that suited me far better, or when I did my first drop-gear pass and heard the tires chirp at 50mph, or when the saleswoman suggested I do a standing start full launch and my eyes touched the back of my cranium and then pancaked there until my adrenal gland gave way to my bladder and pulled my right foot off the launch pad they call a gas pedal; but I did end up liking it better.


I definitely enjoyed revving the BMW more than running out of RPM's and hitting the rev-limiter so darn fast in the CTS-V and I definitely liked the exhaust note and paddle shifting the BMW better. But at the end of the day, to me (necessary disclaimer to not insult anyone or their car because beauty is always in the eye of the beholder which is why they make so damn many types of them), the interior of the BMW for a car that price was a total showstopper before I ever climbed in the CTS-V to begin with. The fact that I then enjoyed the CTS-V so much and am still smiling from the acceleration just sealed the deal.

Now on to the next cars!

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