Life is full of polar opposites. For every man in a corner office endlessly gazing over spreadsheets, there is a man who prides himself in the amount of light bulbs he can eat in one sitting. As much as the one looks down on the other, there is an unspoken acknowledgment that the one begat the other. And so we have come to a crossroads where two monsters of the luxury market meet. The Audi A8L is a car for the highfalutin, practical, and overall respectable drivers of the world. The Cadillac CTS-V is more of a car for those who exude adrenaline, take life as it comes, and for those who may have a slight tendency to keep their right foot planted to the floor. Both of the vehicles will require a check north of $70k and both offer the prestige and notoriety that you expect from brands like Cadillac and Audi. We have decided to dive deeper into both of these adversarial vehicles and present the information so that you may answer the metaphorical question for yourself… will it be the blue pill or the red pill?
First, we shall dive into the all-new 2011 Audi A8L and look to see what this may offer to anyone seeking the softer side of luxury. The new A8 offers a progressive vision of Audi’s new styling design and yet retains the basic silhouette of many of the other vehicles in the current lineup. Up front, you will find a massive chrome grill and the now expected LED details in the headlamps. The side profile shows that the line extending from the front fender extends flat to the rear and gives the car the presence of a large luxury sedan. The rear end keeps with some of the rounded Audi characteristics and yet remains sleek and tight. The overall exterior styling is elegant but will not make the car jump out in traffic and only the keenest of viewers will notice the flagship’s large chrome face darting around on the highway. The interior in the new A8L is truly something to behold and is preferred by this author to any of the competition from the 7 series or S class. Light beige leather and suede cloth cover most of the interior seats and door trim. The large display screen pops out of the center dash and offers a great control interface to make changes to the audio system, navigation, and even the driving dynamics of the car.
The drive in the Audi A8 is quiet and relaxed. The leather seats are heated, ventilated, and also have a massage function that does a fantastic job to relax the driver. The type of buyer for the Audi A8 will want a car that can seal them away from the noise and chaos of the outside world and desire a soft, calm, and relaxing cabin for the drive home from the office. The 4.2L V8 engine, with its 372 horsepower, is powerful and swift without being harsh or uncomfortable in its acceleration. It will be more than adequate in many situations to propel the driver down the road and move the 4400lb German sedan out of its own way.
The Cadillac CTS-V, on the other hand, is for those who are more likely to kill an “ant with a sledgehammer.” No person needs to have 556 hp to go fast or have fun while driving. But if that kind of power is available… There will always be the type of person who has to have it and will find ways to use every inch of the car’s ability. As we found from our previous review of the CTS-V sedan, the car does a fantastic job at being relaxed and comfortable in many normal driving situations while being completely out of control and vicious at the command of your right foot. As if the Cadillac didn’t already look enough like the evil spawn of Darth Vader and automobile, the Black Diamond edition paint color gives the menacing vehicle and even greater aura of darkness. The powerful presence is emphasized by the dramatic lines of the coupe’s styling and the large smoke colored wheels that hide enormous yellow brake calipers. The first time you see the see the Black Diamond CTS-V Coupe you get an awkward and excited feeling in your body that couldn’t be described in language from anything lower than a PG-13 movie. I would imagine that the kind of driver who purchases an Audi A8 has no idea that vehicles like this even exist and would not be able to fathom the necessity of something so absurd. The Cadillac scoffs at Audi’s 27mpg highway rating and gobbles up fuel at a rate of about 17mpg on a good day. Most driver’s with any sort of pulse will get closer to 9 miles to the gallon and get to their destination in a prompt and smokey fashion. The best noise in the world can be discovered by revving the Cadillac up to the rev limiter in 2nd gear and having the car bellow out a growl that will knock the air out of you. The interior of the CTS-V is comfortable enough and the sport seats make for good support through the corners. While I could go on about the entertainment system and the heated seats, this car is not about that and the sheer performance of the car is the main selling point.
Both cars are fantastic in their own regards… The CTS-V will give anyone an intense rush and be a fantastic alternative to skydiving for the thrill seekers out there in the world. The Audi A8L is probably the most luxurious car I have ever had the pleasure of driving and the massaging seats will be forever missed by my buttocks. The A8L may be the better choice for those looking to get a blend of sensible daily driver and fun ride when forced to do so. But nothing will ever replace the way the Cadillac makes you feel or the presence that is felt by others around you when you drive the car through town. Both of these vehicles are at the top of their segments and show the pinnacle of what can be experienced in the Luxury Sedan and Luxury Sport markets. So no matter if you decide to take the red or the blue pill, you will end up grinning like a fool when driving in the beauty of the luxurious Audi or holding on for your life in the beast of a Cadillac.