Having played every racing game known to man, I consider myself a pretty avid track junkie—at least in the virtual world. But there’s something video games just can’t simulate: elevation change.
Laguna Seca fans, whether they’ve actually driven the track or not, are well aware of the inclines, declines, off-camber turns and the infamous corkscrew; choose any clip you can find on YouTube of someone driving the famed track and you’ll see for yourself just what I mean (and understand why this introduction is so long). But knowing about the dips and dives in the abstract world of online research or Gran Turismo and driving them firsthand are two very different things.
So I discovered while piloting one of the wildest tracks on Earth from behind the wheel of a 4,392 lb. wagon—admittedly, not quite the most conducive equation to fast laps. Then again, the 6.2-liter blown V8 packs a powerhouse of torque brutal enough to launch this space-ship-inspired family hatch to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds. Yes, you heard me correctly. Four seconds.
Cadillac feels strongly about the V-Series brand. They weren’t willing to make any sacrifices when creating the third iteration of their widely successful CTS-V lineup. You see, to them—and to me—V represents the pinnacle of American superiority in the stupidly fast luxury segment. Furthermore, V symbolizes how far GM’s arm can be pulled at the whim of a popular model. And with a formula so proven, why not? Hell, I’m confident the revised Cadillac name could continue to grow with the use of just one platform.
The CTS-V Sedan was always part of the plan, while the Coupe came shortly after and has become the hallmark example of Cadillac’s ingenuity. And while both the two- and four-door models are undoubtedly stunning, there’s just something cool about the utilitarian nature of a thoroughbred hatch with enough storage capacity to transport a mini-fridge, a 32-inch flat screen TV, 40 rolls of paper towels and a pair of new shoes.
After a nice drive up the coast from Big Sur, winding through the hills of Carmel Valley and popping in and out of dense Pacific fog, we arrived at the track. It’s not often I get butterflies from anything automotive anymore; not to say I’m impervious to the excitement that a sick automobile can bestow upon my intestines, but seeing Laguna Seca in reality instead of on my old Toshiba monitor definitely caused some foot-tapping and panting.
On a side note, it’s time somebody corrected the archaic stigma that all cars from U.S. manufacturers are held down by sub-par materials and technology. For example, the CTS-V utilizes Magnetic Ride Control, which happens to be the world’s fastest-reacting suspension. Granted, you don’t feel things changing on the fly, and hiding the weight of a pig like this on a tight, technical track like Laguna is no simple task, but the setup works, and it’s pretty amazing what this car can do near the limit. With perhaps the least invasive traction control I’ve ever felt (when in competitive mode) and a balance that requires little to no mid-turn correction, the CTS-V Wagon is hands-down the most capable five-door I’ve ever piloted. And for the record: Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway is as amazing in real life as it is the digital world.
A quick note on the video below: in my defense, the clip is from my first lap on the track, but I assure you, by the end of the day I was moving a hell of a lot faster and kicking the tail out with ease. (Rough day at the office, indeed.) And right below the video of my Laguna Seca adventure, you can check out some of the fun we’ve had in the sedan and coupe as well.