2014 Cadillac XTS | road test

Posted on Feb 3, 2014 by
2014 Cadillac XTS
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 3.5 stars
  • Very Good
AEDAED 245,000 - 285,000
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  • Rated 0 stars
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  • XTS
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: December 10, 2014
  • Exterior
    Editor: 80%
  • Interior
    Editor: 75%
  • Quality
    Editor: 85%
  • Features
    Editor: 70%
  • Performance
    Editor: 90%
  • Value for money
    Editor: 80%

Review Summary:

The is a luxury saloon that is a) very fast b) a fine handler and c) not a bad looker. In a nutshell, the XTS is a good car which is let down by some major design flaws.

Pros

Exterior styling is sure to turn heads
The twin-turbo V6 produces insane amounts of power
With magnetic ride control and a host of other features, the ride is butter smooth

Cons

The instrument panel is much too busy
The capacitive touch switches are extremely difficult to use

Introduction and Summary

Last week I was tasked with touring the UAE in Cadillac’s new XTS V-Sport Platinum. It was a tale of two road-tests; on the one side there was a supremely comfortable and good looking, high performance saloon, and on the other side was a young teenager who has tried too hard to look good, only to ignore the little details and make life unbearable. In a nutshell, the XTS is a good car which is let down by some major design flaws.

2014 Cadillac XTS front

Comfort and Practicality

Make no mistake; General Motors have built a car with a superb level of comfort. A great many high-quality surfaces have been appointed in the interior of the XTS, and is therefore akin to sitting in a fancy lounge bar. With all the toys and space on offer, one of the best methods to test such a car is to conduct a “Girlie Test”. After rounding up the wife and two of her friends, we cruised around the streets of Abu Dhabi and I am pleased to report that the XTS scored very highly indeed. In the back, nestled deep within the vast expanse of leather, the passengers waxed lyrical about the controls for the radio and climate, the opaque sunroof, the brace of TV screens and wonderfully tailored seats. Up front, Mrs. Wife cooed at the side support and its flawless negotiation of road humps. It was all wonderfully comfortable.

2014 Cadillac XTS interior

Certainly, zipping around urban surroundings proved a pleasant experience. The XTS appeared most capable of blocking out the outside world permitting you to enjoy the immediate and intimate surroundings.

Features

For a luxury saloon the XTS is packed with all the latest bells and whistles, albeit bells and whistles that you would expect for AED 285,000. It has a rear parking camera, lane drift warning, HUD, CUE (Cadillac User Experience), clever cubby-holesthe list is endless. But this is where the try-too-hard teenager analogy comes into play. Look up close and personal and you start to see the flaws; it hasn’t washed behind its ears and it hasn’t ironed its shirt. Yes, it’s lovely to have all the superficial features, but it would all be so much better if they actually worked properly.

2014 Cadillac XTS front + side

The Infotainment system, called CUE, is where you control your navigation, Bluetooth, and radio; it is horrendously inaccurate. If you try to select Bluetooth, the screen gets confused and you end up re-tuning your radio instead. The keypad cannot be recalled should you wish to make a phone call, so what happens should you need to “press 2 for English”? The screen lacks sensitivity and accuracy and this lets the whole system down.

There’s more: The buttons aren’t buttons, you are just pressing a symbol on the centre stack, and this was perhaps the most infuriating feature of all. You have to stab away for a few minutes to get anything to work, and then with such force that you arrive at your destination with a hand full of broken fingers. Some things don’t need to be operated by a button, such as the glove box, but it is, and it barely worked. The volume and climate controls were a nightmare. You run your finger along a runner, and you end up with either max heat or max volume, or nothing at all.

The instrument panel is also very busy. If you forgo the HUD to check your speed, you soon become lost in a mainframe of data and dials. Scrolling through the data options requires a degree in modern technology and the patience of a saint.

Don’t forget while all this is going on you’re supposed to be driving. No wonder it comes with collision alert and lane-drift seat vibrators, you’ll need them.

Performance, Ride, and Handling

Now the unpleasantness is over, I am pleased to report that this car handles very well. While it has all the same tricks as the popular CTS, the longer wheelbase here on the XTS does numb the excitement somewhat. No matter, there is still plenty of fun to be had. The All-Wheel-Drive system keeps the car on rails, which is handy because should you put your foot down, then, well, let me put it this way, you’ll never be more grateful for traction control.

2014 Cadillac XTS rear + side

Little can prepare you for the savagery that this 410 horsepower twin-turbo V6 emits. It is bonkers quick and just the mildest suggestion of throttle thrusts you back into your seat in a whirlwind of torque-steer and undiscovered levels of G-Force.

Should you wish to calm down and relax, then simply take it to the nearest motorway and you will elegantly cruise between cities in a symphony of silence. I would suggest you turn the cruise control on, but the odds are it won’t work.

Cost

The 2014 XTS starts at AED 245,000, with standard equipment including a 3.6 litre V6 engine that churns out a hearty 305 horsepower. It comes with the CUE, intelligent brake assist and Magnetic Ride Control all as standard. There are two higher-option packages available: Luxury and Platinum.

The XTS V-Sport model will be offered only in the top-range Platinum model, as tested here. In addition to the twin turbo engine, the V-Sport offers 20-inch wheels, metallic paint and a unique grille. All this will set you back AED 285,000.

Bear in mind that the XTS is built on GM’s Epsilon II platform, which it shares with its cousin, the Buick LaCrosse, and the forthcoming Chevrolet Impala. The Cadillac name has put a sizeable mark-up on the principle design, so with a car like this you are very much paying for a brand, rather than outright quality.

Verdict

Here we have a luxury saloon that is a) very fast b) a fine handler and c) not a bad looker. So where does it sit when compared to its rivals, such as the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes E Class, or the Audi A6? Well, it tackles motorways comfortably and quietly, it handles mountain roads like Jebel Hafeet brilliantly, passengers will love the features, it will overtake anything before it, and it makes for some cracking photographs.

2014 Cadillac XTS side

Arguably the Cadillac is far more ostentatious than its German competitors and by far the thirstiest (15 litres per 100km!). But we forgive the XTS because that’s what Cadillac’s are all about. However, despite its cosmetic finishing and its mechanical engineering being excellent, the operational finesse is a major disappointment. If you have AED 285,000 to spend on a car, then you want everything to work properly and sadly in the XTS that just isn’t happening right now.

Yes, you will embrace the speed and power with a drug-like addiction, but the infernal buttons and CUE system will drive you utterly mad. But, much like our keen teen, it will one day grow up and learn to pay attention to the finer details. But until that time, leave it alone and let it learn from its own mistakes.

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