Cadillac CTS


Debut: 2013
Maker: General Motors
Predecessor: Cadillac CTS Mk2



 Published on 12 Oct 2013 All rights reserved. 


General Motors introduced the first generation Cadillac CTS back in 2001. 12 years on, the car is still a minority player in the mid-size executive car segment, with 50,000 cars sold annually in the United States and just a tad more worldwide. However, considering many GM nameplates were axed during the same period, the fact that the CTS survives until today is already a remarkable achievement. Fighting against German premium brands is an uphill battle, as Jaguar and Lexus can prove. The last generation CTS did well enough to narrow the gap a lot and keep GM's hope alive. Perhaps one day it might just become a world class player.

That day has finally come. The third generation CTS is good enough to rival any European luxury cars, no matter BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-class, Audi A6 or Jaguar XF. It looks elegant, drives exceptionally well and is built with world-class engineering and quality. It is not as well rounded as some rivals, but keen drivers would be amazed by its driving dynamics, which is arguably better than its key competitors. Have we ever said the same to any other American luxury cars?



Starting from styling, you can already see it is the best effort yet to challenge the European domination. Cadillac introduced the so-called "Art & Science" styling theme on the Evoq concept car in 1999 and then the production XLR 10 years ago. It has been evolving since then but never quite satisfied us. Now it finally gets matured on the CTS. The front end of the car is the highlight. It is shaped such that the bonnet seems to extend seamlessly to the front face, framing the vertical grille and goes all the way to the air dam in an uncluttered, graceful manner. It looks like a sculpture machined from a solid block of alloy. Meanwhile, the LED lights are aligned to form a crisped vertical blade at either side. Such a front end design is highly elegant yet full of character. Comparatively, the side view is rather ordinary and the tail is even a bit underwhelming, thus it leaves plenty of room for the mid-life facelift to work on. The overall shape has a strong resemblance to its smaller brother ATS, especially the longer bonnet and cab-backward profile, though the CTS is more elegant in details.

Given the addition of ATS to the family tree, the CTS can be enlarged. Previously, it used to occupy the odd space between BMW 3-Series and 5-Series. That brought it some advantages (e.g. more room than the small BMW for the same money) as well as criticisms (e.g. bulky handling and thirst for fuel). Now the new car is sized squarely at the 5-Series level. Predictably, the underpinning platform called Alpha is shared with ATS. It follows BMW's practice to place the engine further back to achieve a weight distribution close to 50:50 – more precisely, 50.3:49.7 for the 2.0T model, 50.7:49.3 for the V6 or 52:48 for the Vsport. On the flipside, this means the 30 mm extra wheelbase it gained over the old car is fully consumed by the engine compartment, compromising rear seat legroom (more on that later). It is just a sign showing how serious the new Cadillac takes on handling.


Apart from better balance, the new car also stresses on weight reduction. Many parts are constructed in aluminum, such as the front subframe, front bumper beam, front shock towers, bonnet, doors and a large part of the MacPherson-strut front suspensions (while the 5-link rear suspensions are made of steel to achieve the desired balance). The use of lightweight materials is even more extensive than its European rivals (who can believe? Until a few years ago we still described Cadillac as cheap steel!) Overall, the new CTS is about 60 kg lighter than the old car. It also undercuts the equivalent 5-Series considerably, from a few dozen to more than a hundred kilos depending on engines.

Meanwhile, its chassis rigidity is lifted by a whopping 40 percent from the old car. If you think it must have sacrificed sophistication, you will be wrong. The new CTS is actually very sophisticated. Its suspension employs hydraulic bushings to reduce NVH. The famous Magnetic Ride Control with magnetorheological adaptive dampers is standard, returning a ride/control balance that its European counterparts struggling to match. Its ZF electrical power steering is more communicative than the similar helm on BMW 5-Series. Last but not least, its high-spec Brembo brakes offer superior stopping performance. This car sounds more germanic than its German rivals.

Performance is not lack of either. The carried-over 3.6 DI naturally aspirated V6 offers a respectable 321 horsepower. Its maximum torque of 275 lbft arrives at a peaky 4800 rpm, so its real-world performance is no match for its turbo/supercharged opponents. However, with a lighter body to haul it is still capable of 0-60 mph in 6 seconds. The power delivery is linear and refinement is decent. The new Aisin 8-speed automatic transmission shifts smoother and faster than the old 6-speeder, even though it is not as outstanding as the ZF 8-speed unit widely used by its European rivals.



The entry-level 2.0 DI turbo four-cylinder offers surprisingly strong performance, thanks to a class-leading 272 hp and 295 lbft from such a small capacity. Unfortunately, this Opel-developed motor has a long history and this shows in how it delivers its power – It sounds coarse when revved, failing to match the sweet revving manner of BMW 528i. The old GM 6-speed auto it employs is also inferior. IMO, it is not worth to save a little bit cost by using the old tranny.

At the top, flagship model Vsport is equipped with the new twin-turbo version of the V6. It produces a remarkable 420 hp and 430 lbft of torque, good enough to match the V8 power of BMW 550i, Audi S6 or Mercedes E500! As a result, performance is startling – 0-60 mph is done in 4.5 seconds, while top speed is regulated at not 155 mph but 172 mph. It is virtually a cheaper alternative to M5 and E63 AMG. The Vsport also features other performance enhancement, such as wider performance tires, larger front brakes, stiffer suspension calibration, a faster steering ratio and an active LSD.

On the road, the Vsport is really great to drive. This car out-handles any non-M 5-Series and non-AMG E-class. The Magnetic Ride Control gives it a tight body control and a composed ride simultaneously. It maneuvers with a swift and neutral manner rarely found in a car this size, thanks to the nice inherent balance as well as the active differential. Its steering has the equal of Jaguar XF, i.e. direct, accurate and loads up linearly in corners. Most important, it feels natural in your hands, which is not something you can say to the BMW. The car offers bags of grip and the braking is first rate.

Lesser models are nearly as good to drive, although their modest tires run out of grip and translate to understeer more easily. The remarkable agility and composure are intact, while driver engagement is obviously higher than its German rivals. The ride is firm if you used to American or Japanese cars, but it is never uncomfortable, and it gives you a lot of confidence to attack corners.


The driving dynamics of this Cadillac is unbeatable, but I still think it is not good enough to match the versatile 5-Series and the charismatic Jaguar XF. Why? Most problems lie on the interior. Well, American motoring journalists might be happy with its expensive materials – leather, wood, alloy, lacquer and even carbon-fiber trim, but in my eyes their mix and match is not very coherent. The same goes for the interior design, which is more about science than art. This make the cabin looks less classy than it should. Another weak point is the CUE infotainment system, whose touch screen is more difficult to use in a moving car than its rivals' multi-function control knobs. Despite of some improvements to the user interface software, it is still not as intuitive to use as its rivals'. Equally disappointing is the amount of rear seat space available. As the cabin has been moved backward, its rear seat offers the least legroom and headroom in the class (even less headroom than Jaguar XF, believe or not). Its rear seat is also considerably narrower. As a result, 6-footers will find the rear cramped. Perhaps this is not much of a surprise, as we found the same problem on ATS.

However, it won't be difficult to sort these things out. Cadillac has managed to beat the European cars in the areas for which they have long been famous, i.e. ride and handling. If it can keep moving at the same pace, in the next generation we might see it return to the top of the world, bringing back the old slogan: The Standard of the World.
Verdict:
 Published on 15 Aug 2015
All rights reserved. 
CTS-V


The formula of building a great sports saloon is no secret. First of all, you need a V8 engine, turbocharged or supercharged to produce at least 500 horsepower (preferably 600-plus by now) and immense torque at any revs. Hook it to a strong automatic transmission with more ratios than you can count. Fit the chassis with lowered and stiffened suspensions, adaptive dampers, light forged alloy wheels, beefy rubbers and pizza-size brakes. Link everything with a driver-selectable multi-mode control unit. Test the car thoroughly on challenging roads, especially Nurburgring Nordschleife, and develop it step by step to accomplish amazing lap times. There’s no magic. The key is that you need a lot of investment and patience, because, even if the car drives like a dream, it would take generations to change customer perception.

Cadillac CTS-V is running at this stage. When the first CTS-V was introduced in 2003, it was a short-cut attempt to break into the league of BMW M3 / M5. The second generation had its game lifted massively, but it was still not as well rounded as its German rivals. Then General Motors ran into bankruptcy and re-emerged as a much different company. Can you believe its bean counters not opposing to offer magnetorheological adaptive dampers and electronic active differential as standard?
Can you imagine the small-block V8 to be modernized with cylinder deactivation, direct injection and variable valve timing? The new CTS-V has all these goodies. And it gets these not just because of luck. Judging from the dismal sales of the current CTS, the CTS-V program is almost certain to lose money. I guess GM knows that as well. Still, it shows incredible faith and commitment to the Cadillac division. It keeps pumping money to rebuild its image through great products. Maybe it won't change customer perception immediately, but in long term I believe it will succeed.

The power unit of CTS-V is the wet-sump version of LT4 – yes, the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that serves GM’s fastest sports car, Corvette Z06. Owing to the more restricted exhaust routing in the saloon’s engine compartment, its output drops by 10 hp and 20 lbft to a total of 640 hp and 630 lbft respectively. That is still comfortably more than anything else from Europe, although its compatriot Dodge Charger Hellcat steals the show with 707 hp and 650 lbft. Compared with the last generation CTS-V, it is up by a considerable 84 horsepower yet the car weighs 80 kg less. In fact, at 1872 kg it is no heavier than BMW M5 or Mercedes E63 AMG S 4matic. Apart from the aluminum intensive structure of the regular CTS, the V model gets a bonnet made of carbon-fiber, as are the front splitter, rear spoiler and diffusers. That bonnet incorporates a power bulge and ventilation openings to serve the large, firebreathing V8.


Driving through a GM 8L90 8-speed automatic tranny, the car is good for an astonishing 200 mph and 0-60 mph takes only 3.7 seconds, according to Cadillac. Among all performance sedans, only the Hellcat and the 4-wheel-drive E63 S can keep up with it.




Apart from straight line performance, the CTS-V gets adequate upgrade in the chassis. Its body is strengthened by 25 percent thanks to additional bracings around the engine compartment and front suspensions. The suspension gets stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, Gen III Magnetic Ride Control dampers (with 40% faster response), revised geometry and stiffer bushings. The ZF variable-ratio electric power steering gets stiffer for higher precision and better feedback. The Brembo brakes are upgraded to 390 mm discs and 6-piston calipers up front, 365 mm and 4-pot at the rear. The 19-inch forged alloy wheels are shod with wide and sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubbers. Last but not least, an active differential is fitted as standard. It fits the aforementioned formula.

The Detroit supercharged V8 is hard to fault. Immensely powerful and torquey as you expected for something so large, yet its 6500 rpm redline is almost a match to its quad-cam rivals. Moreover, it is pretty refined, too. At cruising speed it is surprisingly quiet for a pushrodder. Supercharger whine is minimal, even at higher revs. In fact, maybe too quiet. More exhaust noise could have given it more character and distinguished it from the European camp.

With so much torque, the Detroit muscle can easily light up its rear rubbers with a prod of throttle. However, the clever launch control assures a flawless standing start acceleration that is faster than the best effort of human. The GM 8-speed automatic might be a bit less responsive than the DCT of M5 or the ZF 8HP70 of RS6, but it is good enough for the task. As a result, the CTS-V is hard to be beaten in straight line. Hellcat might be more impressive in numbers, but unlike the Cadillac it fails to tame its power for good use.

In Touring mode, the CTS-V is just as smooth and docile as the regular CTS, which means the German no longer holds an edge. Its magnetic dampers smoothen the road undulations. Its rigid structure and laminated glass shuts wind and road noise from the cabin. In sportier modes, it controls the body motion tightly. Just like the lesser CTS models, its handling is the best in this class, topping even the M5 and E63 AMG S. It grips well and balances well in corners. Turn-in is responsive for a car so large. At the limit, it slides progressively on throttle, thanks to the e-diff and Performance Traction Management. The steering is precise and weighty. The braking is strong and linear, though not good enough for track use as it lacks ceramic discs.

To drive, the CTS-V is probably the best in class. However, that alone is not sufficient to warrant the laurel, because it doesn’t do the luxury job well enough. As in the regular CTS, its rear seat is cramped, interior styling and build quality are average and the CUE infotainment system is underwhelming (even though it gets more responsive now). The CTS-V is benefited from optional 16-way adjustable Recaro buckets, but the seats of its rivals look classier still. Last but not least, the exterior styling is disappointing. Is it an improvement from the regular car? I don’t think so. The mesh grille is actually less elegant than the standard grille, while the angular power bulge and pronounced aero kits look more Transformer than tasteful. It still lacks the final touch of European masters.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
CTS 2.0 Turbo
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4965 / 1835 / 1455 mm
2910 mm
Inline-4
1998 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
272 hp
295 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/40R18

1685 kg
149 mph (est)
6.1 (c) / 6.2*
16.5*
CTS 3.6
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4965 / 1835 / 1455 mm
2910 mm
V6, 60-degree
3564 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
DI
321 hp
275 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/40R18

1735 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.9 (c) / 6.0*
14.9*
CTS Vsport
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4965 / 1835 / 1455 mm
2910 mm
V6, 60-degree
3564 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI
420 hp
430 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/40ZR18
R: 275/35ZR18
1792 kg
172 mph (c)
4.4* / 4.4** / 4.7***
10.5* / 10.1** / 11.1***




Performance tested by: *C&D, **R&T, ***MT





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
CTS-V
2015
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
5022 / 1835 / 1455 mm
2910 mm
V8, 90-degree
6162 cc
OHV 16 valves, VVT
Supercharger
DI
640 hp / 6400 rpm
630 lbft / 3600 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 265/35ZR19
R: 295/30ZR19
1872 kg
200 mph (c)
3.6* / 3.5** / 3.8***
7.5* / 7.4**
CTS 3.6
2017
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4965 / 1835 / 1455 mm
2910 mm
V6, 60-degree
3649 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
DI, cylinder deactivation
335 hp
285 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
245/40R18

1735 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.7*
13.9*




























Performance tested by: *C&D, **R&T, ***MT





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