The Cadillac CTS is a large American saloon that receives fairly mixed reviews from the critics. It has poor mpg and emission levels compared to rivals, meaning that running costs are high. Its European rivals outclass it in many ways.
That said, it’s an unusual choice so you won’t see many others around, plus the bold styling really makes it stand out.
The CTS sits at the head of Cadillac’s attempts to be seen as a genuine and credible alternative to BMW; forget the jokey Escalade, the CTS is a seriously good car.
It all looks a bit, er, ‘American’ on the outside, but don’t be fooled because the CTS has been tuned and honed for European roads and is surprisingly accomplished. It might not be a class-leading car yet, but it isn’t too far off.
The interior “shouts quality and solidity” and is “subtle and refined”, with one even suggesting that it rivals that of the BMW 5-Series. However, this isn’t a view that everyone subscribes to with some saying that it is merely competent.
The seats are supportive and comfortable and drivers of all sizes and shapes will be able to make themselves at home. There is plenty of equipment fitted as standard too, so you won’t find yourself having to write a much bigger cheque than you were anticipating, just to get a few creature comforts.
Cadillac is a true luxury brand, and the CTS doesn’t let the side down in any way in this respect.
The suspension settings vary according to the model that you’re driving, but all provide a comfortable ride and secure roadholding and are a million miles away from American cars of yesteryear. One reviewer said: “Think M Sport BMW, S line Audi. It’s that good.”
What we shouldn’t forget is that this is still an American car in every sense though, and in some areas it could prove a little lacking for some European tastes. Think of it as more of a smooth cruiser than a performance saloon and you should enjoy the experience.
The steering might be a bit light, if we’re being picky, but on the whole no-one will find too much to complain about the way that the CTS drives.
Depending on your point of view, Cadillac has either ruined or refined the CTS for Europe by dropping its large American-style power plants for a single, more European engine.
The only engine you can get a new CTS with over here now is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit that delivers 272 horsepower. While this may be the sort of thing you would expect in a BMW or a Mercedes, it doesn’t seem very American at all.
In rear-wheel drive format, this new engine will get you from 0 to 62 mph in 6.6 seconds, while the all-wheel-drive version takes a little longer at 6.9 seconds.
The 2.8-litre V6 engine is the budget option, producing just 208bhp, which isn’t much in a car that weights as much as the CTS. As a result the acceleration is “relaxed”, taking 9 seconds to get to 62mph from rest.
It makes a fine motorway cruiser once it’s up to speed though, and it should be a relaxing and refined car to cover long distances in, although you do need to row it along on the gearbox to keep it on the boil when overtaking.
Despite the relative lack of performance the 2.8-litre CTS is the best of the bunch according to many, because the softer suspension is better suited to British roads, giving great ride quality and decent handling.
Careful drivers should get 25mpg or so too, which is pretty much what the factory figures suggest is possible.
The 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine is “whisper quiet” at tickover and “serene” at low engine revs, and although it does get a bit more noisy at higher revs the power comes in crisply from 4,000rpm giving the Cadillac decent performance – and an attractive “snarl”.
Its top speed of 146mph and 0-62mph acceleration time of 6.3 seconds come courtesy of the engine’s 311bhp and 275lb ft of torque, all of which is transmitted to the road through the rear wheels. The automatic gearbox option can be a bit abrupt, but it is still a better option than the manual gearbox according to the experts.
The official fuel consumption is 25.4mpg, which is broadly in line with that of the 2.8-litre engine, and should be achievable by most drivers if they don’t exploit all of the car’s performance.
The 6.2-litre Cadillac CTS über-saloon is wonderfully fast, and gloriously inappropriate piece of American engineering that has garnered good reviews from motoring journalists. They like its power (more than the BMW M5) and performance, but are less enamoured by the fuel consumption as most owners will struggle to get into double figures.
The supercharged V8 engine produces an enormous 556bhp and 551lb ft of torque, giving stunning performance. Keen drivers will hit 60mph after just 3.9 seconds and the big Caddy will keep going until it’s travelling at 191mph.
It’s not just a drag racer though, as it handles very well indeed, feeling “incredibly nimble” despite its weight. It is also incredibly refined and would make a very good inter-continental Grand Tourer – if you can afford the petrol.
The CTS provides huge value for money; you get a lot of car and equipment for your money, although resale values aren’t as good as the best-in-class.
While the new engine may make the latest CTS a more attractive proposition for some people over here, this is never going to be the car for you if strong residuals are an important factor for you.
The sound quality of the infotainment system, which comprises sat-nav, DVD, TV, Bose stereo and iPod connectivity, is “witheringly good”.
The Cadillac CTS is a genuine alternative to the best European cars – if you’re feeling brave – and therein lies the problem. Cadillac only sells a handful of cars every year in the UK, and that means that residual values are low, especially as it still only comes in left-hand drive.
So, if you fancy one you’ll need to think laterally. Why not consider buying one second-hand after a year? Someone else takes the initial hit on depreciation – and you have a cheap, refined, and great-handling car for peanuts!
The real problem occurs if you want the genuine all-American feel, as the all-new CTS is far more European than its predecessors. Only the styling and the badge will set this Cadillac apart from its BMW and Mercedes rivals, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a lot of potential buyers.