2008 Cadillac CTS | road test

Posted on Oct 15, 2008 by

There
is absolutely no mistaking the 2008 CTS for any other car on
the road, or any other car on the planet, for that matter. The CTS is
‘styled’ to within an inch of its life, with no panel, surface or
component avoiding the strong, sweeping strokes of the designer’s
pen. Call this car bold, ‘pimped-out’ or just plain crazy, call
it what you want, but there is no escaping the super-styled CTS –
this is a car you just have to look at. And it is very likely that it
will be during that very first glance that you’ll set your mind in
stone as to whether or not you like it. You see, the CTS is so
striking that it evokes opinions instantly, and ‘high-styling’ on
this level is a brave step by any manufacturer. Do you like it?

I
certainly do. Without doubt this midsize saloon is as bold as a blow
to the head and if making a statement with your style floats your
boat, the CTS will have you sailing happily into the sunset. But, I
have a strong background not only in new car testing, but also in
modifying and restyling cars, so whenever I look at a new model for
the first time I think forward to how the car could look, with the
addition of say, a larger set of wheels, a lower suspension stance
and a more vivid paint job. I also relish the chance to stand out and
the new Caddy would certainly ensure that I could never stay
anonymous, especially after the aforementioned trip to ‘Pimp My
Ride!’

Hyper-sharp
body lines, huge ‘boxy’ chrome-trimmed grille, vertically stacked
headlights and taillights, the wide stance with flared wheel arches,
all wrapped-up in a very coupe-esque, athletic silhouette – you could
easily imagine this car cruising The Strip in downtown Las Vegas,
bright neon lights reflecting off that sculptured body, with the
18-inch, 9-spoke alloy wheels in that mirror-like ‘high-polish’
finish spinning to a reflective blur. If you look at a car the way I
do and its shape and style evokes strong feelings, then I think we
can agreed that that’s a good thing and that the CTS designers have
done their job. The only downside to ultra-bold styling is that there
is a very thin line between love and hate, and for a car to make its
styling statement so strongly firmly sits it on that thin line. Just
one look at the CTS will probably make your mind up for you, even
before you test drive it. If you love the looks, the test drive is a
must, and if you don’t like the looks very much at all, you should
still take a drive… because this ‘Yank tank’ is certainly no
slouch.

This
AutoMiddleEast.com test car came packing the 3.6-litre V6 VVT
(Variable Valve Timing) engine, which produces 278hp at 6400 rpm and
360Nm of torque at 3100 rpm. Now, 278hp isn’t a huge amount of
power, but coupled to the accurate 6-speed automatic gearbox, it was
definitely a very useable amount of power and I really felt a decent
shove in my back when my foot was floored, as the CTS jumped eagerly
into its stride. The sprint time and top speed are confirmed to be
easily as exciting as the feeling of getting there, with a shade
under 7-seconds to 100kph away from the traffic signal and a shade
over 200kph at maximum velocity.

The
soundtrack is all there too with the big-capacity V6’s voice
sitting somewhere between the sting and fizz of a smaller V6 and the
thump and pump of a really big V8 engine. I wouldn’t call the sound
a roar, but it’s definitely the right sort of growl to get your
pulse racing. There’s also a noticeable step-up in power as the
tacho needle sweeps effortlessly (in the lower gears at least)
towards the redline – a power-boosting bonus of that Variable Valve
Timing and direct injection; modern day engine technologies that save
you fuel and serve you up extra helpings of performance.

All
that juicy power and performance is delivered to the Tarmac with
respectable control and composure, too, with a well-planted nose to
the car and good levels of grip. This CTS does not, however, have a
limited-slip differential (LSD) even though it is a fairly high
performance car, so when things do get a little edgy out the back,
the run-off-the-mill differential just makes a mess of things even
further. For most drivers an LSD is of little or no importance, but
when you are pitching your car (as Cadillac are) as a RWD sporty
saloon, then an LSD would make all the difference to the keener
drivers out there. With the driver aids engaged the car remains
fairly tight and tidy as you push it through the bends and turns, but
switching the driver aids off doesn’t really bring any more fun to
the party because when the rear end does start to loose grip, the
basic differential, as I said, just gets more and more confused.
Overall though, the handling dynamics are fun enough for a car that
is very comfortable, relaxed and quiet to drive. Some would say the
steering is a little heavy, but I liked the extra feel it gave me.

 

 

The
CTS interior is more gentle cruiser than street-racing bruiser,
though, so when you are hustling the car around town, you almost feel
a little guilty, as if you are abusing this mild-mannered gentleman
of the road. I guess I would describe the presentation of the
interior as, well, rather plush, really… and I’m sure Cadillac
will be happy with that. It’s as fully loaded as Emirates First
Class, too. The wide and deep leather seats are certainly
comfortable, and once you’ve worked all the buttons, sliders and
motors to ease them into position, everything else in the cabin falls
easily to hand and you feel more than ready to get going. The seats
are very sofa-like, offering supreme comfort when cruising or sitting
in the dreaded Dubai traffic, but a high G-Force bend will see you
sliding around a bit, so a vice-like grip on the steering wheel is a
must.

The
Bose stereo is just excellent, with plenty of bass and definition,
especially once you’ve adjusted it all to your liking via the
large, easy to read and use, touch-sensitive screen in the centre of
the dash. You’ll find everything you need here, and if you want to
go ‘widescreen’ just touch the button and the full screen rises
up before your eyes, offering you a detailed view of the latest
sat-nav, MP3 and onboard hard drive technology. If you are a
music-lover you’re going to love the CTS. You can hook-up your
i-Pod and download tracks to the 40GB hard drive, or simply pop in a
CD – it all sounds great out of that Bose system. The best
factory-fitted in-car entertainment I’ve heard yet.

The
rest of the interior is nice enough with lots of mood-lighting coming
on at night making the inner space feel cozy and quality, and
touch-friendly surfaces pretty much wherever your hand wanders. The
only slight snags I found were a fiddly approach to find the power
window buttons, nestled as they are, under the armrest, and some
restriction to rear visibility thanks to the chunky C-pillar. But
with more use over time and employing the parking sensors, I’m sure
that these hitches won’t amount to much at all.

As
I said, this car is fully loaded inside, nicely ‘wild-styled’ on
the outside and packs a decent enough punch from under the hood.
Add-in GM’s 100,000km, ‘bumper-to-bumper’ servicing, and priced
at around AED150, 000, I really think we’re looking at a bit of a
bargain here. It’s cheaper than its European rivals and sets itself
miles apart in terms of styling – it just remains to be seen if the
general car-buying public, here in the UAE, are ready to walk on the
wild side with the CTS, just yet.

Technical Specifications

Model2008
Bodystyle4-Door
Sedan
Engine3.6-litre
V6
Power278 bhp
Torque360 Nm
Transmission6-Speed
Automatic
Top Speed241km/h
Acceleration0-100 in
6.3 secs
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