Seemingly since the invention of the wheel, American luxury manufactures have been on a never-ending quest to hop across the pond and grab themselves a tasty bite of the European luxury saloon pie. So far success has been limited with even Cadillac, a true force to be reckoned with in the US, struggling to scratch the paintwork of the mighty German goliaths. At the 2013 New York Auto Show the mission continues, with the launch of the 2014 third generation Cadillac CTS saloon.
The all-new CTS is the centrepiece of Cadillac’s range and therefore a worthy steed to lead the American brand in to battle. Larger than the 2013 ATS, which impressed enough to be named North American car of the year, the CTS slots in to the midsized luxury saloon segment, pitching it against such titans as the Mercedes E-class, the BMW 5-series and the Lexus GS. Despite its larger proportions, the 2014 CTS is essentially based on the winning formula that underpinned the award-winning ATS sports saloon. This means that the latest incarnation of Cadillac’s flagship model is longer, lower and leaner than its predecessor. Weight-saving features such as aluminium doors make it the lightest car in its class, even shaving 90kg off of the BMW 528i. Also retained are the signature vertical headlamps and gaping shield-shaped front grille. On higher-spec models, Cadillac even throws in active grille shutters which improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency on the motorway. Yet the design somehow lacks the razor sharp sleekness that characterises German midsized luxury saloons and their high-end Japanese counterparts.
To their credit, the boffins at Cadillac have thrown everything but the kitchen sink in to creating a powertrain that can hold its own against the European and Japanese elite. Although several options are available, the pick of the bunch is the brand new twin-turbo 3.6 litre V6 coupled to a paddle-shift eight-speed automatic transmission, the first of its kind ever offered by Cadillac. This engine, which produces 420 BHP and 430 lb-ft of torque, will form the bases of the high performance CTS Vsport variant, a kind of M Sport with Stetson and spurs. However, Stetson or not, the Vsport’s 0-60 MPH time of 4.6 seconds is reasonably rapid, aided in no small part by the slim-line body, even if it doesn’t come close to rivalling the M5’s 3.7 second 0-60 MPH burst. AWD is also available with all but the top end twin-turbo V6 version and 18-inch aluminium wheels along with high performance Brembo brakes come as standard on the Vsport.
The ultimate luxury saloons should be as sumptuous on the inside as they are on the outside. The 2014 CTS will include a generous selection of 8 interior styles each trimmed with carbon fibre, aluminium or, for those who just can’t bear to be away from the ranch for too long, authentic wood. Leather seating is an optional extra.
Overall, this offering form Cadillac is unlikely to turn the established luxury saloon pecking order on its head. If money were no object, the 2014 CTS would be unlikely to tempt potential customers away from the shiny showrooms of BMW, Audi or Mercedes here in Europe. Nor, in truth, would it give the bigwigs at Lexus many headaches. However, money does talk, now more than ever, and even without early indications on pricing we can expect the CTS to significantly undercut most of its aforementioned rivals, which is a promising sign. Is this a step in the right direction for American luxury saloons? Certainly. Has the 2014 CTS really got what it takes to raise the star spangled banner to Mercedes and BMW rivalling heights here in Europe? That’s debatable. One thing is for sure, this is not the end but rather another instalment in the American desire to rule on ground where no American car has ruled before.
Production of the new 2014 Cadillac CTS begins in the US this autumn.