A New Day: Cadillac CTS Sedan
By Marcus Amick
There probably isn’t another luxury car company in the world that has experienced the kind of evolution Cadillac has over the past decade.
After years of sitting in the shadows of carmakers, the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, the brand has been completely redefined.
In fact, chances are, if you haven’t been in a Cadillac recently, you wouldn’t even recognize one if someone stripped the badges on a new model and handed you the keys for a day.
That said, no car in the luxury brand’s line-up better exemplifies that than the new Cadillac CTS Sedan, which I recently had an opportunity to test drive. In short, it is one amazing piece of American machinery in every sense of the word.
I know, it all sounds like a bit of a follow-up to one of those recent Cadillac ads you’ve seen on TV. But trust me, it’s well deserved, which is why the car has earned so many accolades including “Motor Trend” magazine’s coveted 2014 Car of the Year Award.
From the moment you see the new CTS, you know it’s a drastic departure from previous Cadillacs in years past. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s still true to a lot of the core elements that have defined Cadillac since the brand’s inception in 1906, but it’s quite a shift from models built even five years ago.
The new CTS’s exterior styling is simple but striking from every angle. And the ride and handling is far sportier than those four door luxury cruisers that usually come to mind when you think Cadillac.
The interior craftsmanship is the best you’ll find among anything in the segment, including everything from the stitching on the leather seats to the wood accents. Even the high-tech features in the CTS, such as the CUE infotainment center, have been seamlessly woven into the sedan in a way that doesn’t distract from the car’s classic luxury appeal.
The new CTS sedan, available with a 272 horsepower 2.0L Turbo engine- or an optional 321 HP 3.6L V6 engine -or 425 horsepower Twin Turbo V6, is now a defining element of the Cadillac brand. But the road getting there hasn’t been easy.
“The biggest challenge has been one of ‘perspective’,” says James Bell, who heads Consumer Affairs at General Motors. “The first generation CTS was seen as a very important car for Cadillac as it took the ‘Art and Science’ design philosophy mainstream. The second generation raised the bar – efficiency, technology, and, most importantly, performance. However, the car was seen as ‘too big for the 3-Series and too small for the 5-Series BMWs’. With the third generation, all the factors are aligned as we have a car that can compete with the world’s best in every way.”
Additional competitive features on the new CTS include an advanced all-wheel drive system and Cadillac Suite, touted as the most comprehensive consumer service packages among any luxury carmaker.
It’s a new era for Cadillac that first started taking shape with the CTS Coupe, which debuted as a concept at the 2008 North American Auto Show in Detroit to rave reviews. The Cadillac ATS sedan, which won the North American Car of the Year in 2013, has built on those elements in a more compact package that takes direct aim at models like the BMW 3.
New Cadillac vehicles also include the electric hybrid ELR coupe, the full size XTS, a new ATS coupe and the completely redesigned Escalade, all which highlight the evolution of the luxury brand.
Still, it seems pretty clear that it will be the CTS sedan, which will begin wearing Cadillac’s new Crest for the 2015 model year, that will drive the company.
“On a global basis, the new CTS is a major component, as it was designed to meet and then exceed the attributes that have made BMW and Mercedes the standards in this class,” said Bell. “We feel that the new CTS is the right size, carries the right technology, and beats the big brands in Europe at their own game in regards to lightweight performance.”
Make no mistake about it, the new CTS is a shining example of how far the American luxury brand has come – and how bright the future looks ahead for Cadillac.