Written by: Sammy Chan
Photography by: Sammy Chan
Best Luxury Car: Winner- Cadillac CTS; Runner-up- Mercedes-Benz C350; Second runner-up- Volvo S80. Such is my voting as well as my prediction for the final showing at this year’s Canadian Car of the Year Awards organized by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). The "Luxury Car" category was one of my assigned teams when I participated at this year’s testfest held at Niagara airport last month. Although the C350 was impressive on the track, it just could not beat the new Cadillac in terms of styling, performance, comfort and overall value. Sure, both the Cadillac and I might turn out to be losers when the true winner is announced at a press conference on December 4th, the CTS has already won the hearts of many for being such a great performer.
Although the CTS that was entered at the testfest and the one that I had for a week to myself is optioned with the more powerful 304 horsepower V6 engine and has an as tested price of $55,740, it is even less of a steal when compared to its basic brethren which is listed at just $38,900. For that money, you would still get a great V6 engine albeit a less powerful version, leather seats which are heated and powered for both the driver and front passenger and dual zone automatic climate control. If it’s only the direct injection engine that could open your wallet, then it’s $2,500 more. There’s also other packages to load your CTS to over and above the one as tested because all-wheel-drive is another $4,325.
Styling of the second generation CTS was inspired by Cadillac Sixteen, a concept car first shown at Detroit in 2003. The new CTS is still based on the Sigma architecture shared with some other GM vehicles like the Saab 9-3 and Chevrolet Malibu. With its dramatic and sculpted body lines, the new CTS is instantly recognizable as a Cadillac. Compared with the old, it is sleeker and has better proportions thanks to increase in body width and footprint. If you were taken aback by the new looks from Audi, take a look at this Cadillac, its grille is probably the largest in its class. Both headlights and rearlights have what Cadillac called "light pipes" which are pretty much fashioned out of a BMW 5-Series. Adding more flare to its styling are the chrome-framed vents found on the front fenders. They are actually functional extracting hot air from the engine compartment.
Wheelbase of the new model remains the same but length has been stretched by 37 mm. Much needed correction has also gone to its body width which has been made wider by 48 mm bringing a much more balanced proportion to the overall appearance of the car.
Engine in the base model is basically the same 263 hp 3.6-litre V6 used by the outgoing model, but the 2008 CTS is also available with a more advanced engine that features Cadillac’s first-ever use of direct fuel injection coupled with dimpled pistons and a high compression ratio of 11.4:1. Pumping octane directly into the cylinders instead of behind the intake valve is a very efficient method of raising horsepower. Harmful emissions are also reduced and in the process it turns in better fuel economy. In fact, its fuel consumption is at par with the much less powerful base V6 engine.
A maximum of 304 horses is developed at 6300 rpm and is accompanied by a broad and flat torque curve. Response to pedal input is immediate and strong and the difference in driving feel between the two engines is palpable. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard and if my first impression of a manual CTS way back in 2002 was anything to go by, this manual from Cadillac should also impresses just as well. However, my tester is equipped with a 6-speed automatic that also offers Driver Shift Control plus other advanced features like grade braking and algorithm shifting.
My seat time in the new CTS also included some fun on a closed track at Niagara airport. Through the cones and apexes, the CTS shines and is as much a sports sedan as a BMW 3-Series. It is extremely well planted and handling is predictable with a touch of understeer at the limit. Depending on the packages you tick on the option list, the CTS could be tuned to three different suspension levels. Besides the standard, it also offers FE2 Sport Suspension and FE3 Performance Handling Suspension which provides the ultimate in handling and vehicle dynamics. Ironically, it’s the Sport Package that includes FE3 while it’s the Performance Package that has the lesser FE2.
Also new and much needed for the CTS is the availability of an all-wheel drive system. In normal driving situations, the system is rear-biased keeping 75% of the power to the rear wheels and will maximize to a full 100% at either end when the going gets treacherous and slippery. Not only is the CTS very competent on the track, it is also very rewarding and satisfying to drive providing a linear steering feel and good comfort for four adults on long journeys.
Interior exudes quality and craftsmanship that would even impress a Mercedes S-Class owner. Its interior is in fact crafted out of a new manufacturing process called "cut and sew" where leather pieces are not glued and formed over the panels but are tailored, cut and sewn by hand before being fitted individually. Forget about the Sapele Pommele wood trim option, you’ll be just as delighted with the checkered chrome strips that wraps around the instrument panel and centre console. A VGA touch screen that houses the GPS rises up from the dash and recedes into the panel when not in use. The Audio and Navigation system is another $3,900 but also brings you 5.1 surround sound as well as a 40 gigabyte hard drive huge enough to store up to 10,000 songs.
Passengers in the rear seat would find their trip equally enjoyable as well. Both legroom and shoulder room in the back are BMW 5-Series and that’s exactly what the Cadillac CTS should be compared to rather than the usual 3-Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Also include the Audi A6 Quattro and Infiniti G35x while you are at it and you will find yourself a very nice luxury car that gives you the most value for the least money.
型号 Model: 2008 Cadillac CTS
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $38,900
Price as Tested: $55,740
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2880
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4866 / 1841 / 1472
引擎 Engine: 3564 cc VVT V-6
最大馬力 Horsepower-HP: 304 / 6300rpm
最高扭力 Torque-LB-FT: 273 / 5200rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
前懸 Suspension-Front: SLA
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
循跡操控系统 ABS/Traction Control: Standard
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 235/50R 18