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The auto maker's first-ever twin-turbo V-8 gives Motown an engine that's worth bragging about

Cadillac’s 2019 CT6 V-Sport.

The Grey Ghost makes an appropriate location to reflect on Cadillac's place in the world of luxury cars.

Steps away from the boarded up storefronts of Woodward Ave., the modern gastropub is awash in exposed brick and raw concrete, with a designer cocktail list and a globally influenced menu of new American cuisine. Welcome to Detroit 2.0, a place of urban renewal, modern refinement and promises of rebirth.

Cadillac's fortunes run parallel to those of its hometown, falling from luxury benchmark in the 1950s and 60s to a shell of its former glory at the end of the 20th century. Now the brand is hard at work on its own renaissance, and the 2019 CT6 V-Sport, to be unveiled at the New York International Auto Show next week, is the flagship that it hopes will lead that charge. Today at Grey Ghost, under a black sheet, is the heart and soul of the new CT6: Cadillac's first-ever twin-turbo V-8.

The CT6 V-Sport marks the debut of Cadillac’s first-ever twin-turbo V-8.

The top-of-the-range CT6 is a full-sized luxury sedan equipped with all of the technology that segment necessitates, including massaging seats, semi-autonomous cruise control and a 34-speaker Bose sound system. The CT6's engine previously had six cylinders, not eight. The car's 404-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 is no slouch, of course, but the lack of those two extra cylinders was a sticking point for some customers, the auto maker says, and a clear point of difference between the brand and its German competitors.

In front of a crowd of journalists gathered at Grey Ghost, the sheet is drawn away to reveal the product of four years of research, 10,000 hours of development and millions of miles of vehicle testing: a 4.2-litre twin-turbo V-8. A "clean-sheet" design purpose-built for the new CT6 V-Sport and mated to a new 10-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, this motor is to be the final piece in making the sedan into a true luxury contender.

Cadillac says the new V-8 is good for 550 horsepower, a respectable boost over the old V-6.

"Throughout the history of Cadillac there have been historic engines that went into these vehicles," says Jordan Lee, chief engineer of V-8 engines for Cadillac, standing in front of the shining hulk of polished aluminum and steel. "We want to bring that back to Cadillac with our sport sedans."

Alongside the burly powerplants in its CTS-V performance cars, the new V-8 marks a bold stride in that direction. Also, in another move away from its troubled past, this engine will be exclusive to the CT6 V-Sport, not to be shared with its cousins at other GM brands.

The new V-8, Lee says, is good for 550 horsepower, a respectable boost over the old V-6. More noteworthy, however, is its formidable 627 lb/ft of torque. Not only is that far more power than the previous engine, it's also significantly more than the Mercedes-Benz AMG 63, Audi RS 7 and BMW M5. As such, CTS V-Sport's new engine remedies the car's chief weakness, while providing Cadillac with bragging rights in a highly competitive segment.

The CT6 gets an exterior makeover in the design language of the Escala concept.

According to Cadillac's engineers, the new numbers aren't just about pure acceleration; that's still the domain of the brand's race-ready CTS-V line. Instead, the new V8 is designed to offer an overall more refined and luxurious feel on the road. "We stress character a lot when it comes to what we want to do with the CT6 V-Sport, and this engine fits that character perfectly," Lee says. "For a very high-end luxury sedan, this engine is the right choice."

Accompanying the new engine is an exterior makeover of the entire CT6 lineup in the design language of the Escala, a concept introduced in 2016 to show the brand's future direction. With its angular body, and aggressive new front and rear lighting signature, the refreshed CT6 cuts a commanding presence on the road. Combined with its powerful new engine, it might be enough to finally put Motown back on the luxury sedan map.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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