Catera no more
The CTS has moved slightly upmarket and has focused on the BMW 5-series as the main target competitor.
Toronto, ON – Cadillac was once known as being seriously grand. Their vehicle lineup consisted of luxurious, lavish vehicles that were purchased by the elite social class. Over the years, the Cadillac name fell victim to General Motors’ strategy of badge engineering and vehicles like the Cimarron and Catera were born. Names like Rolls-Royce and Bentley continued to hold their positions in the market as unattainable for the majority of the public, whereas the likes of Duesenberg and Maybach went into extinction. Nearly a decade ago, Cadillac introduced their entry-level luxury sedan, the CTS, to replace the dreadful Catera. It was the first serious competitor to the BMW 3-series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
For 2014, the CTS is all-new, and is something seriously good. GM invited us out to the glamorous Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto for the reveal and media drive of the 2014 Cadillac CTS. After a spectacular executive dinner, we got some shuteye and prepared ourselves for the big drive.
Cadillac brought down a few members of the engineering team that was in charge of developing and designing the new CTS. There was a brief product presentation that gave us an overview of the car and the different models and motors available, the most notable being the CTS V-Sport, with its fire-breathing 420-horsepower twin-turbo V6. The car is also available in both rear and all-wheel-drive, and shifts via either a 6- or 8-speed automatic transmission depending on the trim level.
The most notable thing about the CTS is the styling. Continuing the design trends that debuted last year on the ATS and XTS, this car utilizes an evolved version of Cadillac’s “Art & Science” design language. From the LED headlights to the long, raking hood, the big sedan oozes class. With the ATS already an excellent 3-series fighter in the Cadillac lineup, they have moved the CTS slightly upmarket and have focused on the BMW 5-series as the main target competitor. Therefore, the new car is also slightly bigger. Bob Ferguson, Global VP for Cadillac, says “the car that has always been Cadillac’s centerpiece stretches both figuratively and literally to challenge the world’s best”.
We started out the day driving what GM assumes will be their volume seller, the 2014 CTS 2.0T with all-wheel-drive. With 272-horsepower and the 6-speed automatic , the base car scoots along on 17” wheels and gives off the vibe that I generally get after reserving a “Premium” at the Hertz counter. While the 2.0T does a great job hustling the sedan along, the base model lacks a few of the toys that I would prefer to have. It does have Cadillac’s “CUE” infotainment system, but lacks the premium leather as well as a sunroof. The 17” wheels mean the wheelgap in the rear is particularly huge.
I moved on to the 3.6L rear-drive model next. Powered by the signature GM 3.6L V6, this CTS puts out 321-horsepower. I really liked this engine in the multiple ATS models I’ve driven over the last little while, and I really feel as though it’s the sweet spot in the CTS lineup too. The motor sounds incredible, like a proper American V6 should, and the car flies. It may have a bit less torque than the 2.0T but there isn’t any turbo lag like the 4-banger has, so it feels better all-around. This model also had the configurable LED cluster that that premiered on the XTS, which I really like.
I personally can’t wait until my booked review week with the CTS V-Sport. With rear-wheel-drive, a 410-horsepower twin-turbo V6, and an eight-speed automatic, the car is exactly what I have been waiting for. Cadillac has done exactly what Lexus did with the F-Sport models, and offers this “transition” model for those who don’t want to step up to the fuel bills and pure menace of the CTS-V (Cadillac doesn’t confirm the arrival of the big-boy CTS-V at this time). The V-Sport model also gets 19” wheels, Brembo brakes, Magentic Ride Control, and 430 lb-ft of torque. It’s expected to hit 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds.
I learned many things about the 2014 CTS from this event. Cadillac’s “CUE” system could definitely use some improvements, but I feel as though they will come over time. I also feel that buyers of any car equipped with CUE could use a crash course from the Cadillac retailer in order to make sure they know how to do things. Other than that and the extensive rear wheelgap on cars with wheels smaller than 18”, I have no doubt in my mind that the new CTS is going to hold its own against the Germans. It has an excellent chassis, and some great powertrains. Something unrelated to the car that I learned during the CTS celebrations is that while their cars may not be as extravagant as they were 60+ years ago, Cadillac as a company has not lost any of its grandeur. They really do know how to throw a party – Jay Gatsby could use a few tips from these guys.
First Drive – 2014 Cadillac CTS Gallery