The 2014 CTS is an important car for Cadillac.
At the New York International Auto Show in March, Mark Adams, executive director of Cadillac Global Design, presented the sedan as the “next logical step” as “Cadillac is expanding and elevating as a brand.”
The first CTS brought rear-wheel drive back to Cadillac in 2002, an early flicker of hope that the brand could transform itself from the perfect ride for Jerry’s father on “Seinfeld” to something that could tear young buyers away from BMW and Audi.
That transformation has come along nicely. In the past year, Cadillac put two all-new sedans into the market, the sporty ATS and full-size XTS. It’s growing faster than it has in 40 years.
Now it has circled back to the CTS, the brand’s “centrepiece.”
The third-generation CTS is longer, lower, and lighter than the outgoing model. It’s also $US6,000 more expensive — a sign of Cadillac’s growing confidence in its products and its plan to move upmarket. The base version of the CTS goes for $US46,025.
We had the chance to drive a CTS with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine, as well as one with the 3.6-liter V6. We spent some time with the CTS V, the $US59,995 performance version of the sedan, as well.
We have plenty of things to nitpick in each. And it’s still not clear if the CTS is on par with established market competitors like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
But here’s the bottom line: With the new CTS and CTS V, Cadillac has nailed another step on its long climb back to the top of the luxury chain.
While Mercedes-Benz is looking downmarket with the $US29,900 CLA 250, Cadillac is working its way up the luxury price ladder, says Jim Vurpillat, the brand's director of global marketing.
The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine generates 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, enough to go from 0 to 60 mph in a solid 6.1 seconds. Cadillac also sells the CTS with a 3.6-liter V6.
Here's the CTS V, the car's performance-driven fraternal twin. The exterior is the same (this colour is 'Red Obsession') as the base model, and the interior is basically the same, with a fancier trim.
It's packing a new Twin-Turbo 3.6-liter V6 engine that is a lot of fun to put to the test. 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds.
The CTS V lapped Germany's Nurburgring track in 8 minutes and 14 seconds. That's a second behind the last-generation BMW M5, which had a V10 engine.
Fuel economy is solid, but not amazing. The 2.0-liter gets 20 mpg city, 30 highway. The CTS V posts just 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway.
Ok, time to run through some things that annoyed us. These are small things, but that doesn't mean they don't matter.
Cadillac has made some much-need improvements to its CUE infotainment system. The screen is responsive, but real buttons and tuning knobs are underrated. They don't require you to look at the center console while driving to use them.
The animated dashboard is trendy but annoying. Give us a real speedometer and tachometer, not pictures of them.
The small side view mirrors look good, and supposedly reduce wind drag. But while they meet DOT size standards, visibility should be better.
Everyone buying a new car now has a phone, and wants it nearby. So every car should have a good spot (not a cup holder) to put it. The CTS does not oblige.
This is the button that puts the CTS in Sport or Tour mode. We'd rather see Sport as an option on the shifter.
Again, it's a minor point, but if you could change gears with the shifter, the car would be more fun. Shifter paddles just aren't as enjoyable to use.
The edges of the rear seats are slanted, so passengers with window seats are pushed toward the middle -- annoying if there are three people back there. But if you're driving, do you really care?
There's a head up display, available in all versions. This is a great feature, especially for navigation -- you can just follow arrows ahead of you, and turn off the annoying voice commands.
Cadillac took the plastic rim off the rear view mirror. The result is a sleeker look that improves visibility.
The button to open the glove box is next to the center console, where it doesn't mar the sleek design.
The CTS comes with Cadillac's innovative warning system: When you drift out of your lane (at 40 mph and above) to the left, the left side of the seat vibrates. For those who don't want such an alarming massage, it can be turned off.
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