If there has been one fabulous result from the chaos in the US automotive industry, it is that all the three giants; Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford are now building the very best products that they have ever made. Finally, they are all back on track at the cost of losing multiple brands and personnel, perhaps that was the manure they needed to grow.
Take Cadillac, a brand that was once known as the “Standard of the World”, which had become negative caricatures of pimpmobiles and drug dealers both in pop culture and in multimedia. Their very worst car had to be the laughable Cimarron, which finally died a forgettable death after 6 years, though I had my share of fun moments behind the wheel of one in college until I picked up a Honda Accord LXi in 1991, but I digress.
Just when I thought that Cadillac was going to sink, their lifeboat came by way of the very successful reinterpretation of the Suburban, the Escalade series. The tide started to turn with some healthy numbers, and then something exciting really came along just 5 years ago with the Corvette-based XLR, which had the performance and luxury to once again compete with both the Germans and the British on equal footing. It was a very good car albeit too aggressively angular for many motorheads and it too finally succumbed last year. Cadillac now has a formidable model range line-up but its new hope comes in the heavily stylized shark frenzy of their newly revised CTS-sedans, wagons and Coupé’s, which will be its bread and butter. You may remember its public debut in the Matrix Reloaded film way back in 2003 with the previous Sigma I chassis. Michael Lhuillier already tested the sport wagon first months ago and was left with a very good and strong impression.
Now, we have here the Coupé with the same 304 bhp, 273-pound-foot direct-injected 3.6-liter V-6 found in the Chevy Camaro but in a slightly longer and wider Sigma II platform, which is oddly GM’s mid-size/rear-wheel drive chassis instead of the shorter “full-size” Zeta platform used in the Camaro. It’s a peculiar strategy to be sure, but the results are immediately obvious. The Cadillac instantly drives better than its Camaro counterpart; it feels more lively yet more plush and planted. A mechanical Limited Slip Differential is standard. The suspension setup even with the more taunt optional sport package which rides on 8.5 x 19″ front and 9.5 x 19″ rear chrome alloys shod with gloriously meaty Continental ContiSportContact 3 tires, 245/45YR19 up front and 275/40YR19 at the rear had tremendous grip yet was still very compliant considering it didn’t have the active suspension found in the supercharged V-version. Also part of that sport package are an upgraded cooling system and bigger brakes up from 12.4″ on all corners to 13.6″ discs up front and 13.3″ discs at rear.
The CTS Coupé is a real great car that deserves respect. It was a true joy to drive. Cadillac’s novel reputation for excellent build quality and opulence is certainly back. I can’t wait to drive the Nürburgring-conquering 556 bhp CTS-V soon that builds on this brilliant car with even better equipment. Cadillacs are not your grandfather’s cars anymore, that’s for sure. They have become truly desirable driver’s cars once again and who knows if they keep this up, they may be able to live up to its coveted original accolade of yesteryear.
Specification – 2011 Cadillac CTS-Coupé
Engine: V6, 3564cc, dohc 24V, Direct Injection VVT, SelectShift 6-speed AT
Max power: 304 bhp @ 6400 rpm
Max torque: 273 lb ft @ 5200 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 6.2 sec.
Top Speed: 245 km/h (153 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 18 mpg City & 27 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 50,035
+ Better than Camaro equivalent, fabulous packaging and fitment
– Rear exhaust finish just for show, V8 V-spec is the one to have though
C! RATING 9.5/10