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Posts filed under ‘Cadillac’

Home Run: 2014 Cadillac CTS

April 10, 2013 by Matt

2014 Cadillac CTS Gray Gunmetal

This is the best-looking American car to come along in the past 10 years. Maybe longer.

Aggressive, fleet, tailored, expensive… Visually, the 2014 CTS is a quantum leap ahead of its predecessor. A lot of credit has to be given to the new upright grille, which gives the nose a crisp, commanding appearance. Proportionally, the 2014 CTS echoes the latest Mercedes E-Class, but without that car’s baroque extremities and glitzy detailing. The new midsize Caddy has presence in spades; it looks chiseled and confident, borrowing its German rivals’ overall themes but imbuing them with a uniquely American swagger. It’s sub-zero.

2014 Cadillac CTS Gray Gunmetal Rear Back Taillights

Amazingly, even more than its looks, the best part about the new CTS may be its chassis. Left Lane reports that Cadillac may be taking a page from Audi’s recent weight reduction efforts with their luxury car lineup, targeting a curb weight that would undercut its competitors from BMW and Mercedes by at least 200 lbs, flashbacks of decades past when a trim, 3,600 lb luxury sedan was the norm rather than the exception. Lighter weight benefits every performance- and economy-related quality, especially handling; when an automaker choose to “add lightness,” as Colin Chapman famously put it, it’s huge in my book.

2014 Cadillac CTS Interior Inside Cockpit Console Steering Wheel Dash Dashboard

As far as the powerplant is concerned, Left Lane continues:

[T]he big news for 2014 is the introduction of a 3.6L twin-turbocharged V6 in the new Vsport model. The twin-turbo mill is based on Cadillac’s naturally aspirated 3.6L V6, but boasts a number of improvements, including a new block casting, updated cylinder heads, stronger connecting rods and a 10.2:1 compression ratio. As a result of those changes, the twin-turbo V6 cranks out 420 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque, good for a 0-60 time of just 4.6 seconds and efficiency of 17 city/25 highway mpg.

Other Vsport goodies include Brembo disc brakes, a driver-selectable track mode for the standard Magnetic Ride Control system, an electronic limited-slip differential, a heavy-duty track cooling package, a quickened steering ratio and 18-inch wheels shod with Pirelli summer tires (19-inchers with all-season rubber will be available).

However, sadly:

The slow-selling six-speed manual option from the current CTS has been deep-sixed.

Here’s hoping they choose to resurrect it for the range-topping CTS-V performance variant. Until then, between the new CTS’s design, emphasis on chassis lightness and fantastic new engine options, I’d say Cadillac has their latest winner on their hands.

Image credits: netcarshow.com

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New Road Tests Reveal
a Potential Winner in Cadillac ATS

July 26, 2012 by Matt

2013 New Cadillac ATS Red

The first road tests from Car and Driver and Autoblog are in, and the consensus seems to be that aside from a few questionable choices, the new Caddy ATS is more of a contender for the entry-level sports sedan throne than any American car has ever been.

The high points? Ideal (50:50) weight distribution, chassis dynamics including beautifully predictable and linear handling response and communicative steering. The presence of a manual transmission option paired with at least one engine option (the mid-range 270 hp turbo’d 2.0l 4-cylinder) drew praise as well. The publications also agree that the interior, and in particular the nav system are well done. The whole package, too, seems nearly perfectly calibrated on European tastes, which bodes well for conquest sales, since potential buyers of the BMW 3-series or Audi A4 will be already keyed into that ethos.

2013 New Cadillac ATS Interior Stickshift Manual Trans Transmission Tranny

Both reviews seem to agree that the lowest-power engine option may be a mistake. The 200-hp, 2.5l Ecotec 4-cylinder is badly matched to the car, and the two higher-power engines complement the chassis better, and motivate its 3,450-lb bulk much more competently. Also, in the opinion of this pundit, if Cadillac truly wants to compete on the same level as their European counterparts, they need to offer a manual transmission option with all engines, regardless of a the meager percentage of buyers that will actually elect to check that box on the option sheet. It may not make much sense in term of the bottom line, but it’s a matter of perception, and as much as the ATS is billed as a game-changer, Cadillac should have gone all in and spent the bucks to fit the stickshift to all the powerplants.

Finally, I just want to pause for a minute and reflect on the minor miracle that this car exists as all. Back in January, the car was unveiled, I expressed my hope that after 40-odd years of trying, Cadillac would actually “get it” and succeed in creating a viable alternative to the classic European sports sedan, and based on the road tests, it seems like they may finally have. It’s sort of the automotive equivalent of the Red Sox finally winning the World Series after the decades-long “curse.” Eagerly anticipating the first comparison test…

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New Cadillac ATS:
A Shot Across BMW’s Bow

January 10, 2012 by Matt

Cadillac ATS Red 2013

Behold, the Great American Sports Sedan. The long-awaited indigenous usurper of the BMW 3 series throne. The convergence of all of our uniquely American know-how and expertise into a stunning, compelling car that is…as European as it can be.

Yep, only 40+ years after the arrival on our shores of the BMW 2002, it’s now safe to say that Cadillac has “gotten it,” in the sense that they understand that car’s appeal and have developed a product to match its modern incarnation, the BMW 3 series. It’s not like they didn’t “try”—each successive generation of luxury import-fighter from Cadillac has seemed like an incorrect answer to a question BMW aced way back in the ’60s. And after first trying smaller size, glitz, even smaller size, power and gadgets, by virtue of the process of elimination, the American automaker has come full circle and finally, finally realized it’s the chassis and the drive that enthusiasts crave. So they’ve made something small-ish, nimble, RWD and optioned it with a three-pedal manual transmission. I can hear the collective exasperation of American car buffs: “YES! Yes, that’s the combination we’ve been wanting for ages… What took you so long?”

Cadillac ATS Red 2013

So now that it’s here, what’s it like? Having only just been revealed, full road tests by independent publications are forthcoming; however, Cadillac put together a series of teaser videos showcasing the development time poured into chassis tuning. Also, Cadillac has finally proven it can build a car which actually handles in the latest CTS and CTS-V, so there’s good reason to believe they’ll do it right with the ATS as well. A good sign Cadillac’s priorities are straight is the commendably low weight of around 3400 lbs, lighter than its ballooning German rivals the 3 series and Merc C-class. The distribution of that weight relative to the wheelbase is close to 50/50 as well, and the chassis tuners would have to be ham-fisted indeed to screw up that combination of ingredients. Power for the ATS comes in a few flavors, including a 2.5l NA 4-cylinder, a 2.0l 270-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder, a 3.6l 318-hp V6 and an efficient diesel further down the line. 6-speed automatic or manual transmissions will be offered; which engines the stickshift will be available with hasn’t yet been revealed. Hopefully all of them.

Cadillac ATS Interior Inside Cockpit Dashboard

As much a BMW fan as I am, I really hope Cadillac pulls this off. Not only out of a sense of national pride (though admittedly that’s dampened a tiny bit by the car’s very European-ness), but strong competition makes all competitors stronger, and a excellent ATS will only mean a better 3 series; the Bavarian car certainly isn’t going anywhere. Also, I feel BMW has lost their way in the past decade or so, perhaps growing complacent atop the sports sedan podium, and has allowed weight and an excessive amount of gadgetry to creep into their whole lineup. If the ATS is a more straightforward, “honest” sports sedan, as I very much feel it will be, maybe it will help talk performance automakers down from the ledge of electronic trickery they’ve been teetering on for some time. Might it be that the ATS isn’t just the Great American Sports Sedan, but the Great Sport Sedan Enthusiast Hope, irrespective of nationality?

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Underrated Lookers:
The ’92-’97 Cadillac Seville STS

December 27, 2011 by Matt

Cadillac Seville STS Black

Keeping on the Cadillac theme from yesterday, I thought it’d be worthwhile to revisit a classic example of an American automaker at least getting the shape right, even if they got the chassis completely wrong.

Leaving aside the redundant acronym that is the car’s trim line (Seville STS = Seville Seville Touring Sedan), the redesigned ’92 car was a semi-credible effort in Cadillac’s longstanding pursuit of its European rivals. The STS exemplified the uniquely American luxury and performance formula the automaker espoused at the time: Big transverse V8 in the front, FWD, broad-shouldered proportions, relaxed-fit interior and handling. Its girth, softness and inherent weight distribution limitations (not to mention the lack of a manual option) meant that it was no match dynamically for the BMWs and Mercs it was pitted against in magazine comparos—but it did win praise for its looks.

Cadillac Seville STS Red Rear Taillights Back

I would agree with their positive assessment. The car is large, no doubt, and the wrong wheel/tire combination can easily make the car look like the bloated pig it kind of is, but… Toned down and tucked in, the creased, tailored sheetmetal and wedge-y profile give the STS’s shape a kind of big-and-tall linebacker-in-a-suit-on-an-NFL-post-game-show elegance. It’s not lithe and svelte, but its proportions suggest a higher ratio of muscle to fat than is common with most luxury cars on this side of the pond. If I could ignore everything about the chassis (except for the 300 hp Northstar’s grunt, natch), it’d be one American sedan I wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen behind the wheel of. Turn the engine 90°, bolt it to a 6-speed, firm up the suspension and sign me up.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series featuring cars whose design I find appealing, in contrast to mainstream opinion. Read the other installments here:

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A Turn For the Better

July 16, 2011 by Matt

After all my tirades and philippics this week, this Saturday being sort of gray, drippy and reflective like it is, I thought it might be worthwhile, for a change, to survey the automotive landscape and dwell on some unequivocally good developments.

Ford Mustang 2011

The Ford Mustang. Good golly, they got this one right. As has been observed, it’s the best looking car Ford has made in years. They’ve upgraded the interior materials, given it a wonderful pair of engines in the V6 and V8, tamed the live rear axle to the point where the car is a bona fide racetrack hero, and really honed the car’s details, like the particularly-tasty sequential rear turn signals. Even if the car isn’t single-handedly saving Ford’s bacon the way the minivan did for Chrysler in the ’80s, I’m convinced Ford is hugely benefiting, tangibly in terms of sales, and intangibly in terms of the halo effect, from the Mustang. No one can deny that the essential goodness of the car has given the automaker a massive boost in these economic doldrums.

Audi A5 2012

Audi’s new design direction. Oh yes. Ever since their B7 A4 led the automaker’s model range, somewhat awkwardly, to adopt a deep-grille fascia, I’d hoped it was a “transitional model” and that the company’s stylists would eventually smooth out and integrate that feature a little better. The B8 A4/S4 showed the first glimpse of that hope fulfilled, and with the upcoming arrival of the revised A5 and S5, the deep grille has fully matured, blending effortlessly into the cars lines, owing primarily to the addition of a small angle in its upper corners. Audi has come from behind in the ’90s to become the German Jaguar, leaping from one aesthetic peak to the next with their trend-setting, perfectly-penned interior and exterior design.

Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

The Cadillac CTS-V Wagon. After a too-long series of Euro-style luxury car flops, as much as I have a bone to pick with The General’s overall operations, it’s still somewhat gratifying to see one of their divisions get a car so absolutely right. All the goodies they shunned for years are there at last: 6-speed manual, RWD, excellent handling and a wagon body, topped with a generous helping of good ol’ American pushrod V8 power. It’s been a long, circuitous route, and we enthusiasts have been mystified for years by Cadillac’s dogged refusal to adopt the formula (manual, RWD, handling) that would have finally put them in the game vis-a-vis their foreign competition, but it’s nice to see them finally coming around, and how. Now watch GM ax their most promising car in years, just like they have so many times before. CTS-V wagon, mark my words: Your days are numbered.

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