It is difficult to find an engine more central to a carmaker’s portfolio than General Motors’ 3.6-litre V6. From hulking crossovers like the GMC Acadia to compact sport sedans like the Cadillac ATS, the General has identified a flotilla of homes for it. The engine has never been one to inspire coos and caws from a driver, though.

That changes with the arrival of a twin-turbocharged 3.6, entering service within the Cadillac line. Its first application is in the mid-size XTS sedan, and judging from an hour’s drive in a 2014 XTS wearing a Vsport badge – itself a distinction created specifically to accommodate this new powertrain – there is reason to believe the engine will receive sacks of award hardware by year’s end.

As the XTS pulled away from stoplights in Manhattan, the 3.6 produced characteristic depths of turbo torque but nary a decibel of turbo whine. At an unruffled 1,900rpm, the engine was already producing peak torque of 369lb-ft, and once outside city limits, the full wave was available to pin shoulders back all the way to 5,600rpm.

Cadillac calls its twin turbo a new engine, and with 90% new components relative to the stalwart 3.6, the brand has reason to tout its singularity. But beyond ratios and percentages, the twin turbo creates a new feeling within Cadillac. Here, finally, from an American brand, is powertrain behaviour becoming of BMW – which has monopolised discussion around twin-turbo six-cylinder engines for years. It all bodes well for the 2014 CTS Vsport, which was previewed in March 2013 at the New York auto show, sending many attendees’ mouths agog. Suddenly a Vsport decklid badge – saying nothing of the wreathed crest that spawned it – has become a rather fetching accessory.

Vital stats: Cadillac 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine

  • Fuel delivery: direct injection
  • Architecture: dual overhead cam
  • Peak horsepower: 420 (410 in XTS Vsport)
  • Peak torque: 430lb-ft (369lb-ft in XTS Vsport)