Can U.S. Pizzazz Trouble Germans?
CTS Likely In Europe Soon As Cadillac Cranks Up Europe Effort.
“Many of these art deco skyscrapers in Detroit are empty, save from a bit of vegetation sprouting from some windows”
For – handsome, luxurious, drives well, awash with technology.
Against – lacks German brand power, but not much else.
**** out of 5
$65,295-£40,000 (before tax)
DETROIT, Mich. – Detroit may be financially bankrupt now as well as visibly falling apart at the seams, but you hardly notice that as you drive round the city. I was driving a splendid new Cadillac CTS 3.6L, and when the traffic stops you have a chance to look around.
Every time I visit Detroit for the car show I have to do a double-take when I approach the downtown area. From a distance, the magnificent art deco skyscrapers are impressive. From the high land to the north, you can see the 1920s and 1930s skyscrapers clustered around the Detroit River as it moves down to Lake St Clair, and you think wow, mini-Manhattan. But slow down and stop in the traffic when you arrive in the city you get a chance to take a closer look. Many of these huge buildings are empty, save from a bit of vegetation sprouting from some windows. I’ve been travelling to Detroit for the annual car show for many years now, and for a while I expected, because this is America after all and not the third world, that some huge, exciting new project would have started to turn the city around and restore it to its former glory. Or bulldoze it back whence it came. But nothing. Maybe next year. Why? Perhaps lefty, statist, high-tax Democrats in charge since time immemorial is a factor?
If this gets you thinking of renaissance, than the U.S. automotive industry shows it is possible to fall into the mire, figure out why you’re in it, and return to former glory. If GM, maker of this nifty Cadillac, can claw its way back from bankruptcy, (with a little bit of help from Uncle Sam admittedly) why can’t the city of its birth, Detroit?
Meanwhile the new CTS, which survived bankruptcy mode, looks great and drives beautifully, with precise steering and compliant suspension. The powerful engine is unobtrusive and responsive. The head up display is terrific, although I turned it off mistakenly and couldn’t find a way of getting it back. This car was fitted with “magnetic ride control”, traction and stability control. It zips through the eight speed automatic gearbox with gusto when you want it to, and is a smoothy when you don’t. Four-wheel drive is an option on this car, but I don’t think mine had it. A scary skid on an icy motorway link road suggested this was absent. When you approach the CTS, the key in your pocket will ignite a greeting as the lights go on and the door-handles light up. A bit flash, sure, but you can reprogramme the thing if your embarrass genes are engaging. Inside, the leather, whirring memory seats, and expensive looking insets and carbon fibre remind you that this is a luxury car. The SatNav made calculations in real time, and I found my 20 mile route from the northern suburbs on the amazing rundown but still all-encompassing highway system to the city centre was different every day as the traffic jams moved around. Very impressive. The car had a “driver awareness” package, which sets off rumbles in your seat if the computer detects you are moving across lanes. Very annoying. I didn’t have time to figure out how to work the automatic parking assist gizmo. I never did master the radio.
Cadillac said the CTS is the segment’s lightest car, enabling the most agile driving dynamics in the class. This is quite a claim, as it also says the BMW 528 is in its sights. The 321 hp CTS weighs about 200 pounds (90 kg) less than the BMW 528i.
Connectivity is another bragging area for the CTS. There’s an eight-inch, high-resolution colour touch screen. Bluetooth is standard, along with USB and SD card ports. You could choose a 12.3-inch high-resolution, configurable LCD instrument cluster display. Other goodies include Standard Bose eleven-speaker sound system or Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound system with 13 speakers. Obviously 13 beats 11.
So the question asked by Europeans when Cadillac is mentioned is always this. Yea, sure it does well in America where driving speeds are much slower and heritage is less important, and being pampered at the dealership is the most important buying factor. What else could explain Lexus’s huge success in America? Can Cadillac ever be more than a minor niche player in Europe? After all, even Lexus is still a niche operator here. This CTS is on sale soon in Europe, powered by 276 hp four-cylinder engine, according to the company website – www.cadillaceurope.com. Given that last year Cadillac sold less than 500 cars in Western Europe, there’s no evidence it is getting serious any time soon. But with the critically acclaimed BMW 3 series competitor ATS on the launch-pad as well, maybe Cadillac is about to crank up an assault?
|Cadillac CTS 3.6L V6|
|Engine:||3.6 litre V6 direct injection petrol|
|Power:||321 hp @ 6,800|
|Torque:||373 Nm/275 lb feet @ 4,800|
|Gearbox:||eight speed automatic|
|Acceleration:||0-60 mph – 6.0 seconds|
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined – 22 mpu.s.g/26.4 mpg/10.7 l/km|
|Weight:||1,649 kg/3,616 lb|
|Boot capacity:||388 litres|
|Competition:||BMW 5 series, Mercedes E class, Audi A6, Lexus GS, Infiniti Q50|
|Price:||$65,295-£40,000 in the U.S. (before tax)|
|For:||handsome, luxurious, drives well, awash with technology|
|Against:||lacks German brand power|