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Hummer Cadillac SRX Escalade
Hummer H3
Hummer H3
Escalade
Escalade
Cadillac SRX
Cadillac SRX


Cadillac Escalade–Massive, Pricey, Embarrassing Gas-Guzzler
‘Lade Has No Diesel, No Hybrid, No Chance
GM Sends Us The Hummer Too, Replicating All Of The Above
GM Set To Dominate Footballer, Rap, Laughing Stock Market 

BARCELONA, Spain I never thought that I would have even a momentary meeting of minds with George Monbiot, the swivel-eyed, attack environmentalist. But as I clambered aboard this enormous,  climate munching ‘Lade outside Barcelona Airport, I did start to wonder just why General Motors is sending us bloated behemoths like this.

If Monbiot had, by chance, been visiting Barcelona at the same time, on one of his vigorous campaigns to return the rest of us to the stone age, (just as long as he retains full rights to club-class air travel and a nice limo) he would have certainly launched a volley of abuse at this 6.2 litre V-8 engine-powered leviathan, which produces 409 bhp, weighs in at almost 6,000 lbs (2,720 kgs), spews out 383 grams of CO2 for each kilometer (g/km) traveled, while going 16.2 miles per gallon (17.4 l/kms) on a good day.

And if he had known the full truth about the total threat to the European environment being launched by General Motors that very day, the poor man would have keeled over on the spot. Not only were there six Cadillac Escalades in the Barcelona Airport parking lot, but before the trip was out, 24 hours later, I would have sampled the soon-to-be-denied-obscene delights of gas-guzzlers like the Cadillac SRX, powered by a 4.6 litre Northstar V8 producing 325 bhp, 16.7 mpg (16.9 l/kms) and 396 g/km, and the Hummer H3 with a 3.7 litre in-line 5-cylinder motor producing 244 bhp, 14.5 mpg (19.5 l/kms) and 346 g/km.

Great for pea-brains, rappers
Just who would buy a Cadillac Escalade, an SRX or a Hummer, brands all owned by General Motors? Certainly, well-known pea-brains with too much money like Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand, have been seen in Escalades. But when the market for Premiership footballers and rap artists has been exhausted, it’s hard to imagine anyone so bereft of embarrass genes that they would be seen dead in one. Step forward Big Brother TV’s dimwit Jade Goody perhaps?

It’s not as though these things are cheap either. In America, where the price of everything seems to be less than half that of rip-off Britain, an Escalade starts at $55,000 (£27,900/€42,100) before taxes. Here in Europe, GM wants almost £50,000 (€75,500, after tax) for the Sport Luxury top of the range. That would buy you a fully-loaded Range Rover Sport with a nice, relatively-economic diesel. So  you do wonder why GM, in the form of Dutch-based Cadillac, Corvette and Hummer Europe, are bothering. The importers mumbled positively about diesels, and how there will be one coming along shortly. We are assured though that all three of these beasts will be available in bio-fuel mode in 3 years time. 

No diesel, no hybrid, no chance
But to launch these three machines, without even the mitigation of a diesel in the line-up or the hint of a hybrid (an Escalade hybrid is promised in the U.S. in 2008), seems to be a direct wind-up of politicians who hate the car and the freedom it gives us, and are eager to find reasons to get us on the buses. They are also a come-on to climate maniacs like Monbiot and Ecologist “editor” and fellow climate change alarmist, the superficial socialite and Conservative party advisor Zac Goldsmith, for no particular gain. After all, they won’t sell many. This ill-informed decision is also likely to create a long-term hostage to fortune for GM in Europe, if it ever wants to don the green mantle.

So, apart from the uncompromising, look-at-me-body, are there any reasons to covet an Escalade? I have to admit that once in the cabin, I was very impressed with the luxury, the overwhelming smell of beautiful leather, and the sumptuous seats. The quality of the interior is top class, and rather conservative. Bling isn’t the thing here at all. On the road it doesn’t roll all that much, and it’s quiet. The six-speed automatic does the job unobtrusively. The electronically controlled suspension flattened out Spanish bumps, although it might not do so well on British roads, after 10 years of neo-Labour neglect and its Keystone Cops incompetence.

Even the truck drivers look wary
Cadillac is especially proud of the Escalade’s safety performance, with air bags everywhere, in the unlikely event that this colossus wouldn’t flatten everything which strayed into its path. Did I notice a rare look of fear in the eyes of the drivers of oncoming Saab Scania trucks?

As for the Hummer, a media presentation describing its freedom- loving nature didn’t really hit the spot, and once on the road, the lack of performance from the huge engine was notable. The H3 couldn’t hold on to 70 mph on an slight upgrade without a gear down-change in the 5-speed manual version. The ride was jittery and noisy, although the interior was surprisingly civilised. Off road, the H3 performed miraculously, but no better than other mud-pluggers like the Range Rover or Toyota Land Cruiser.

Parallel universe
The Dutch importers do seem to have been living in a parallel universe, as they praised the Hummer’s go-anywhere abilities and talked about its popularity as some kind of unifying icon. Rightly or wrongly, the kind of welcome you are likely to get in most European cities if you showed up in a Hummer would be about as warm as if you revealed at the local orphanage that you were Garry Glitter in disguise. No prices were available for the Hummer, which starts at less than $30,000 in the U.S. (£15,200-€23,000) before tax. Expect prices in Europe to start at about £30,000-€45,300.

The Cadillac SRX will also be available in Europe later this year. Prices aren’t yet available. This station-wagon/estate car was very well equipped, the V-8 version went like stink, as it gulped down huge quantities of fuel.

The launch of these three misfits in Europe shows the Dutch importers have a tin-ear to environmental concerns here that may be exaggerated, but can’t be ignored if you are selling into real markets. I don’t expect that the damage done to GM’s image will infect its massive Opel or Vauxhall brands, but it can’t be worth the risk. GM surely can’t be thinking that by using the Dutch importer it is theoretically keeping this operation at arm’s length?


Neil Winton – February 10, 2007

Cadillac Escalade Sport Luxury
Engine:
6.2 litre V-8 petrol
Power:
409 bhp
Gearbox:
6-speed automatic
Drive:
all-wheels
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined - 16.2 mpg-17.4 l/kms
CO2 Emissions:
383 g/km
Weight: 2,720 kgs
Price:
£50,000-€75,500
Competition:
nobody else has the brass neck to compete in this market
Rating:
* out of 5
For:
nothing
Against:
buying one makes you instantly certifiable as a class-free zone
Hummer H3
Engine:
3.7 litre, 5-cylinder petrol
Power:
244 bhp
Gearbox:
5-speed manual (4-speed auto available)
Drive:
all-wheels
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined - 14.5 mpg (19.5 l/kms
CO2 Emissions:
346 g/km
Price:
to be announced
Rating:
* out of 5
For:
see above
Against:
ditto

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