Cadillac CTS 2006
Although the American ‘build ’em big, sell ’em cheap’ moto is still applicable to the CTS, this Caddy also has more refinement as well as an improved chassis which puts the quality back in to its quantity.
If you want something a bit different and your not too shy to make a statement then don’t brush aside the Cadillac just yet. You may get some confused looks as people try to make out the badge but it does have the presence to win over quite a few of the sceptics. Although it’s true that the American`s ruler straight roads don’t really demand much from cars in the way of cornering, the fact that Europe’s tarmac is a bit more wiggly is definitely catching on.
Indeed the CTS has seen some welcome improvements to its chassis and suspension which have been carried out at the Nurburgring, Germany. Its StabiliTrak stability control system is another very handy feature, given that it can adjust the braking at any of its four wheels to maintain control of the car.
We like the fact that it`s still got many of its original Americaness yet it’s no more that brash left hooker, its got more imagination to define it as a brand, its neater and more proportionate. You can also detect elements of Vauxhall styling that have been whisked up in the GM melting pot. The more artistically angular lines soften its look like Rooney in a tux; and dare we say the CTS also inspires a temperamental right foot due to the muscle behind it.
You’ve got a choice of two petrol units, an entry level 2.8litre V6 which produces 215bhp or a 3.6litre V6 with 257bhp to boot. The latter is likely to be the most popular not least for its power but also for all the mod cons which come as standard. Both powerplants have variable valve timing and a dual stage variable intake manifold. In fairness despite the initial gulp as you look at the fuel consumption on the trip computer, the 3.6litre does live up to its 24.4mpg on a combined cycle which isn’t too much of a sting for a car of its size.
Although it’s termed a Sport Luxury model the initial burst of life is much more luxury than Sport when you leave it up to the five-speed automatic transmission. It’s very smooth and tentative in response but you don’t feel a surge of passion with it. With an acceleration of 7.0 seconds from 0-62mph, it proves it is a serious contender in its field and the engine note as you push it through its rev range gets moodier by the minute. This translates in to a pleasingly gruff roar, crisp and consistent in its deliverance.
The ride and handling is always a contentious issue for Europeans driving American cars but it has to be pointed out that there’s been a lot of ironing out in this area. Yes, it can be a little soft around the edges in to fast, tight turns and hence not as forgiving as its German contenders but with a little respect and a predictable driving style, it can take the heat. You can tell as soon as you start it up that its body posture is much stronger and well balanced. The Caddy maintains this graceful poise at high speeds and even around town where the road surface is smooth. Encounter a few dips or loose surfaces though and you’ve got a few wobbles through the cabin.
This aside, the Caddy’s spacious interior has a very inviting allure about it. With five adults, their weekend luggage, bedding and sports equipment the CTS fared remarkably well. Being finished in a creamy beige shade also adds to the light and roomy feel. The CTS is composed and relaxing on long stretches of motorway, Devon’s tiny country roads aren’t its forte but the drive was pleasurable all the same.
The positioning of some of the controls are isn’t immediately obvious but its fairly easy to get used to. The only really curious decision is having a press down handbrake one side and a pull out lever the other side when you want to release it. There’s also quite a few little reminders that you’re in an American car like the ‘trunk open’ warning, the generous amount of cup holders and armchair-style rests.
The standard equipment list is ideal; you’ve got eight-way Dual-zone climate control, heated front seats with lumbar support, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a Bose six-CD sound system. The 16” machined-aluminium wheels and heated folding door mirrors are also part of the package as well as six airbags, two of which are dual stage and only inflate according to the severity of the collision. The Sport Luxury model gets a few additional perks as standard like the leather interior, 17-inch wheels and xenon headlamps with washers. Then on the options list you have the choice of a sunroof, satellite navigation and metallic paint. The only thing it lacks is parking sensors but then if you are used to driving big cars, you probably aren’t afraid of backing them in to tight spaces.
The CTS is certainly easy to drive and very practical, the biggest hurdle for Cadillac is actually getting people in it in the first place as the British can be sticklers for familiarity. However once we do widen our product knowledge by trying out a few different models, we are open to being pleasantly surprised. The CTS will always have an American accent and therefore never fit conventional expectations but it has enough knowledge of UK culture to charm us at our own game.
FOR: The beauty of being different and big and proud of it. There’s plenty of power on tap, its indulgently spacious, has a well balanced chassis, offers plenty of equipment and is fairly priced.
AGAINST: Ensure your passengers haven’t got coffee in their hands when embarking on uneven surfaces. It’s also a bit soft in its approach to corners although some people will buy it because it isn’t overtly stiff and racy like most of its European competitors.
CONCLUSION: Over all we think it fronts a convincing pitch and there is definitely a market for executives that don’t follow the masses. You get a lot for your money with a Caddy and the quality is noticeably better than before.
ENGINE: 3.6litre V6
Co2 (g/km)/tax: 275/-
POWER: 257bhp @ 6200rpm
TORQUE (lb/ft): 340 Nm @ 3200
0-62mph (sec): 7.0
TOP SPEED: 145mph
MPG: /-/-/24.4 (urban/extra-urban/combined)
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: Front double wishbone, rear multi-link, independant
BRAKES: Ventilated discs, ABS Ventilated discs
WHEELS: 7.5 x 17”, cast aluminium
TYRES: P 225 / 50 R17
WEIGHT: 1722kg kerb weight
RIVALS: BMW 5-series, Jaguar S-type, Audi A6