Every year, Car and Driver hosts what they call the Lightning Lap. The Lightning Lap is an event where C&D takes some of the fastest new cars of the year and gets the fastest lap that they possibly can with each car around the Virginia International Raceway (VIR). There have been some pretty impressive laps put down by some pretty impressive cars. It’s one of auto enthusiasts’ favorite events.
Recently, Car and Driver put together a list of the fastest sedans to ever take part in the Lightning Lap. This is all about numbers and not driving dynamics or feel or any of that other stuff us journalists talk about. This is simply about lap times and horsepower. Some of the cars on this list are brutally fast by any standard, not just for big sedans. The BMW M5 is one of those cars and it’s not hard to see why.
With a monstrous 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 under hood, the BMW M5 makes 560 horsepower and can get form 0-60 in about 4 seconds. It’s a luxury-lined cruise missile. All of that power is sent through a seven-speed DCT gearbox to the rear wheels. A clever electronic limited-slip differential allows the M5 to manage all of that power to just two wheels and get around corners far better than expected. All of this power and tech allows the BMW M5 to lap VIR in 3:05:2, which is astonishing considering its 4,425 lbs. That’s no lightweight.
However impressive the BMW M5’s time is, though, that only makes it good for ninth on the list. Admittedly, the BMW M5 did its Lap in 2013 and has since been eclipsed by other automakers, in terms of power and performance. Some of the contenders to score faster laps come from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Cadillac. The Audi RS7 faster than the new M5, but that’s to be expected as it’s a newer car. The new Mercedes-AMG C63 S was faster than both the M5 and RS7, even though it has a smaller engine and makes less power than both of them.
But the fastest car of all to lap VIR at the hands of Car and Driver is the brand new Cadillac CTS-V. The new CTS-V is an absolute monster. Say what you will about its refinement or glitzy interior or lack of proper luxury, but denying its performance is simply impossible to do honestly. With a mammoth 640 hp, coming from its 6.2 liter supercharged V8, the CTS-V was able to lap VIR 2:56:8. That time is only 0.9 seconds slower than the 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS and the CTS-V has four doors, seats five comfortably and has all of the modern luxury amenities one could ask for. The CTS-V is a powerhouse, plain and simple.
While BMW has the M5 Jahre Edition, that makes 600 hp and would probably get a much better time, C&D unfortunately didn’t ever test the Jahre. BMW does have a new M5 coming in a couple of years, the new Cadillac CTS-V might have set the benchmark for high-performance luxury sedans. While my money would personally still go to the Bavarians in that category, there’s simply no denying the CTS-V as the performance benchmark in the segment.