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Third time lucky? Image by Cadillac.

Third time lucky?
Cadillac tries to crack the UK market for the third time with its new CTS.

   



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| First Drive | Hampshire, England | Cadillac CTS |

In the Metal

John Manoogian, Exterior Design Director, Cadillac, regales with enthusiasm that German automotive supremo Dr Piech and his advisors were overheard discussing wing stamping on the CTS when it was unveiled in Detroit in 2007. The Germans thought that the front wing must be made of plastic to allow such a complex shaping. It's not: it's metal, Manoogian delighted that the Germans, so famed for their quality, were marvelling over a detail on the new CTS. And there is no denying that the American car is an imposing sight. Manoogian adding it to a list of 'icon' Cadillacs - his 'Art and Science' design creation perhaps quite rightly being mentioned alongside the impressive winged land-yachts that most UK people think of when hearing the American name.

A seriously reworked version of the outgoing CTS, the new car is the model that Cadillac hopes will bring European - and crucially - UK sales. The bold grille and upright lights front and rear are apparently Cadillac identifiers, but as most of us aren't familiar with the CTS's more recent bloodline it's a familial nod that's largely lost on UK consumers. A handsome, assertive looker, for those wanting something a bit more exclusive than the more obvious German premium machines the CTS is an individual, perhaps brave, choice.

What you get for your Money

Famed for enormous portion sizes America also does its cars with all the trimmings. So, the CTS comes with the sort of standard specification you'd need vastly deep pockets for on any of its European rivals. Indeed, it's likely the ink would run out on your pen ticking options on rivals' order forms if you tried to match the CTS's standard kit. Hard drive equipped music server with BOSE audio, satnav, leather, recordable radio, iPod and USB connectivity, dual-zone climate control and rear park assist are all standard, one notable omission from launch being a fully integrated Bluetooth telephone system. Cadillac's people are said to be readying one. Two engines are offered initially, both petrol V6s of 2.8- and 3.6-litres. The only difference specification-wise between them is slightly softer suspension on the smaller engined car and wheel-mounted shifters, chrome finishing on the exhausts and 18-inch alloy wheels for the 3.6-litre.

Driving it

The more focussed sporting suspension that comes with the 3.6-litre engined car is pretty significant. It makes for a rather compromised ride, yet the CTS does not compensate for its fidgety, unresolved body control with pin-sharp dynamics. Cadillac claims it's as sporting as its German competition; it's not, the steering isn't as incisive as BMW's, the ride not as resolved as Mercedes' - or Jaguar's for that matter - and the gearshifts nowhere near as smooth as any of the CTS's intended rivals. The steering is weighty, that heft not equating to feel, the CTS working better on the 2.8's slightly less compromised suspension settings.

The engines provide decent enough performance, the 3.6 sounding rather good at high revs. However, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption aren't as good as the European competition: the figures are so close between the two engines - 25.7mpg and 25.4mpg, 263g/km and 264gk/m - that there is little penalty for taking the significantly faster bigger engine option. If economy is an issue then wait for the 2.9-litre V6 turbodiesel, which arrives halfway through next year.

Worth Noting

Cadillac reckons with the CTS it has finally licked the old American problem of poor quality interiors, and it's a vast improvement over anything we've seen from an American premium manufacturer. The materials are largely a cut above the cheap and far from cheerful norm from the USA. Even so, some of the detailing isn't quite up to scratch, the styling over fussy and some of plastics rather below par, the interior already squeaking on the low mile test cars. Overall it's a decent effort, but Audi's interior boffins won't be losing any sleep.

Summary

It's easy to get sidetracked in comparing the obvious premium rivals with the CTS, but customers are likely to be looking for something different anyway, and the Cadillac CTS is unquestionably an individual choice. Huge equipment levels, good looks and sensible pricing are very appealing, though residual values, a lack of Cadillac dealers and the fidgety ride do let it down. Certain to be exclusive and not without appeal the Cadillac will find the handful of buyers it's hoping to attract, but it's more likely to win buyers new to the segment than persuade those already there to trade in their German cars.

Kyle Fortune - 15 Aug 2008



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2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Kyle Fortune.

2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Kyle Fortune.



2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Cadillac.
 

2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Cadillac.
 

2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Cadillac.
 

2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Cadillac.
 

2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Cadillac.
 

2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Cadillac.
 

2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Cadillac.
 

2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Cadillac.
 

2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Cadillac.
 

2008 Cadillac CTS. Image by Cadillac.
 






 

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