A couple of months ago, a couple of friends and I decided to take a European vacation. One leg of our journey took us from Amsterdam in the Netherlands through Belgium before winding up in the Paris.
But what’s the best way to see Europe?
Some may say it’s best done by train. Air travel is pretty affordable these days. Also, those Viking River Cruises sound like an absolute blast. But for me, there’s nothing better than blasting my way through the continent behind the wheel of a high-powered automobile. Admittedly, as an automotive journalist and a car fanatic, I may be biased here.
This leads to the next big decision. What should be our road trip car? With the need to carry four full-sized Americans and their luggage, many of the usual suspects like Volkswagen GTI, BMW M3, and Porsche 911 are off the table.
The Audi RS6 Avant, Volvo V60 Polestar, and even the Range Rover Sport were just some of the enticing options we considered. But in the end, we went with a less obvious choice, the Cadillac CT6.
The CT6 debuted in 2016 as Cadillac’s new flagship sedan. The aluminium-intensive Caddy represents the brand’s new vision for luxury that blends style and sophistication with technology and driving pleasure.
As a result, its one of Business Insider’s favourites, nearly taking home our 2016 Car of the Year Award. (In case you’re wondering, the Acura/Honda NSX hybrid supercar won.)
However, we were curious to see how a big Cadillac would hold up on the streets of Europe. Here’s a closer look at our European road trip.
Here's the route. Our 563 kms trip will take us from the Netherlands through Belgium before wrapping up in Paris.
There, I found a beautiful Phantom Grey Metallic 2017 CT6 sedan waiting for me. Our test car came from Cadillac Europe's demonstrator fleet.
As I waited for my friends' flights to arrive, I took the CT6 out for a spin. I headed west towards the shores of the North Sea to the town of Zandvoort.
Our CT6 test car was a fully-loaded all-wheel-drive Platinum edition. The CT6 Platinum starts at around $89,000 in the US and €95,000 in Germany.
Under the hood, our test car came with a 3.0 litre, twin-turbocharged V6. In US trim, the motor is good for 404 horsepower while this Euro-spec car is rated at 417 ponies.
As much as I appreciate the serenity of the North Sea, it's not the main reason I came to Zandvoort.
From 1948 to 1985, Zandvoort was home to the Dutch Grand Prix. As a car geek, I simply couldn't stay away.
My friends and I spent a couple of days taking in the sights and sounds of Amsterdam while the Caddy spent that time neatly tucked away in an underground parking structure.
... We jam our luggage into the Caddy's 15 cubic foot trunk. All of our suitcases fit, but barely. It's one of the reasons why crossovers and SUVs are now king of the hill.
From Amsterdam, we head south to The Hague. Here's the CT6 in front of the Binnenhof. It's a complex of buildings that serve as offices for the Prime Minister of the Netherlands as well as the country's House of Representatives.
After retiring the Caddy to a parking deck, we spend the rest of our day exploring the Belgian capital.
We came upon this performance at the Park Bruxelles in the center of the city. Not exactly sure what's going on here.
The next morning, we leave Brussels for the 321 kms drive to Paris. Check out the cool head-up display!
We take this time to explore the Caddy's in-car tech. And there's quite a bit. Our car came with a full suite of driver's assistance features along with night vision.
The CT6 features a 10.2-inch touchscreen running the latest version of Cadillac's CUE infotainment system.
Even though the CUE system has drawn its fair share of criticism over the past few years, Cadillac has spent a considerable amount of time and effort to improve its responsiveness and usability. With that said, the system did find itself flummoxed by downtown Brussels and its many's pedestrian-only streets.
Like all GM products, our CT6 came equipped with OnStar and 4G LTE connectivity. This gave us in car wifi during our road trip. However, it should be noted that in-car 4G LTE service has not yet rolled out in all European markets.
Our CT6 came with stunning 34-speaker Bose Panaray stereo system. While I admit I don't have the sharpest ear, the Bose system proved to be more than sufficient for all of my listening needs.
However, as nice as the front seat may be, the back seat is where it's at. Our test car came with a pair of 10-inch retractable rear seat infotainment screens.
However, it was the seat adjustments and massage feature that proved to be the most popular. Especially after a long few days and a cheese-heavy diet.
Shortly after entering France, we made a stop for fuel. Overall, the Caddy managed a respectable 20 mpg of fuel economy in mixed driving.
The Cadillac CT6 is one of the finest vehicles ever produced by the US auto industry. Its combination of refinement, performance, and technology is nothing short of world class.
But how does it fare as a European road trip car?
Actually, surprisingly well.
It's powerful, twin-turbo V6 means it delivers a fulfilling and dynamic experience at high speeds. With Active Suspension and precise steering, the Caddy is composed and confident in the corners. Even though it weighs in at 4,000 pounds, the CT6 feels incredibly light on its feel.
At 17-feet long and six feet wide, the CT6 is, by any measure, a large automobile. In Europe's narrow city centres, the Cadillac commands the driver's attention. However, with rear wheel steering to cut down on its turning radius and a movie-studio worth of cameras, the CT6 navigated its way through even the most cramped quarters we could find. Including narrow alleyways in Amsterdam.
The interior of the of the CT6 proved to be quiet, well-appointed, and ergonomically designed. The materials used are top notch while its style is a successful amalgam of modernity and classical luxury cues. It's obvious Cadillac spent money here.
The CT6 isn't your stereotypical American luxury barge. In fact, it feels more akin to a four-door grand tourer than anything else. A fast, powerful, cruiser designed to cover large distances across Europe while coddling its occupants in effortless luxury.
With Cadillac and especially the CT6, perception lags behind reality. The amount of investment and development work done on the CT6 is truly impressive. Having a few thousand kms behind the wheels of Europe's latest and greatest, the Cadillac CT6 gives the US true contender.
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