New Caddy coerces young professionals

For 2014 Cadillac has introduced the third generation of its highly successful mid-size model, the CTS.

This is the car credited with reinvigorating the stalwart luxury brand a decade ago by establishing a new design strategy that would, hopefully, appeal to a much younger audience.

The 2014 CTS is currently available in sedan, coupe and wagon form, but at the moment, only the sedan variant benefits from the flashy new design.

The new CTS shares its 2.0-litre turbocharged in-line four-cylinder and available 3.6-litre V6 engines with its little sister, the recently introduced ATS sedan, but there is also an all-new twin-turbocharged V6 on the menu that produces 420 horsepower and 430 lbs.-ft of torque.

Cadillac fan Jamie Bowering enjoyed her time behind the wheel of the new CTS, but felt the ATS might be a better fit for her at this point in her career.

Cadillac fan Jamie Bowering enjoyed her time behind the wheel of the new CTS, but felt the ATS might be a better fit for her at this point in her career.
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The twin-turbocharged engine is only available in the CTS Vsport, a new trim that fills the gap between the 3.6-litre V6 and the ultra high-performance Cadillac CTS V.

The CTS Vsport has been designed to appeal to the enthusiast driver, so it should come as no surprise that it comes equipped with a host of specialized V-Series performance equipment.

Obviously, the torque heavy twin-turbocharged V6 engine is the jewel that will attract most drivers, but the Vsport model is also fitted with an 8-speed automatic transmission (in place of the 6-speed fitted to lesser models) that features Driver Shift Control. This fast-acting gearbox helps the car sprint from zero to 96 km/h in a scintillating 4.4 seconds, and corporate literature suggests that the Vsport is capable of reaching a top speed of 274 km/h.

Further performance upgrades include enhanced ZF premium steering, Magnetic Ride Control with an exclusive track mode, and Brembo-engineered front brakes with available high-output brake linings.

The decision makers at General Motors have been focusing their attention on finding ways to attract a more youthful customer base to all of its brands, but top-tier Cadillac has been a priority for the past decade.

Jamie Bowering is a young, suburban professional with a penchant for automobiles. At 23, this mechanically inclined Mission woman has owned several GM cars, including a supercharged Pontiac Grand Prix GTP, and a 2003 Cadillac CTS. She would still own the latter if it hadn’t been for a snow-induced accident a couple of winters ago that resulted in the car being written off.

Former Cadillac CTS owner Jamie Bowering gives the latest version of the car a big thumbs up.

Former Cadillac CTS owner Jamie Bowering gives the latest version of the car a big thumbs up.
PNG Merlin Archive,

Sliding behind the wheel of the CTS Vsport put a smile on Jamie’s face that would last for the duration of our road test. This is a good sign for General Motors, as winning over the likes of younger consumers like Jamie can be a hard sell, so if she came away impressed with the product Cadillac is putting on the road today, she might be a customer tomorrow.

My test pilot for the afternoon seemed to be smitten by the car’s slinky new bodywork, luxurious interior, and extensive list of standard equipment.

“This car is beautiful,” proclaimed Jamie. “They have really come a long way when I compare the quality and design of the new car’s interior to that of my first generation model. Everything is so well put together and high-end.”

The electroluminescent instrument panel, head-up display, and multi-function LCD display screen were big hits with the tech-savvy educator.

“I love the look of the gauges. It is really cool to have the second map display in the gauge cluster. I could see how this would be a big advantage as it allows the driver to keep their eyes on the road ahead rather than having to look toward the centre of the dash. That’s clever.”

The CTS Vsport comes equipped with an advanced communication and control system referred to as the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) that utilizes a highly intuitive interface similar to that employed by the modern smartphone or computer tablet. The system is operated using a proximity-sensing touch-screen or Natural Voice Recognition technology that is initiated at the touch of a steering wheel mounted button.

“It is amazing how far the technology has come in 10 years,” proclaimed the attentive driver, “the ability to use voice commands to control accessories like the phone, and audio and navigation systems is really cool.”

Jamie marvelled at features like the adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning system and infinitely-adjustable audio system, but I think it was the chilled sport seats that were appreciated the most, especially when she stepped hard on the accelerator and felt the g-forces pushing her back into the seat.

“I love the power of this engine. It really has lots of torque and low-end grunt. When I am in Sport mode and using the shift paddles the surge of power is impressive. And I have to say, this car sounds so good!”

We spent some time exploring one of the twistiest back roads in the area so that the CTS Vsport’s handling prowess could take centre stage.

Fitted with an electronic Limited-Slip Differential (eLSD) that optimizes torque split between the rear wheels, the CTS Vsport delivers precise steering feel, enhanced stability and maximum traction through corners.

“This car handles the corners like it is on rails. The assist offered by the power steering is just right, as I still feel totally in control. I don’t recall my CTS being able to carve turns as proficiently as this one does, and I even had upgraded wheels and tires.”

General Motors’ Magnetic Ride Control has been perfected on the company’s legendary sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette, and it is now featured on the CTS Vsport. The system utilizes magnetically controlled dampers, or shock absorbers, for a highly adaptive ride. This cutting edge suspension can react much more quickly to offset road irregularities and tackle traction issues than a traditional suspension system is able to. We ventured over a notoriously hazardous railway crossing to see just how good the suspension really was.

“The ride is really smooth, and there is very little road noise,” mused Jamie as she used all her senses to try to find a fault with the car. “To be honest, I barely felt those tracks when we crossed them, and they looked pretty formidable.”

During our test drive it became apparent that Jamie felt at home behind the wheel of the CTS Vsport, but she admitted that it was a bit out of her price range. With a glint in her eye and a mischievous smile she was quick to inquire whether Cadillac’s slightly smaller ATS was on my future test schedule.

“This experience has reminded me why I like Cadillacs so much. I would love to try the new ATS as it looks to be a more practical size for my needs, and it shares much of its styling with this car. It also would be easier to fit into my budget.”

If Jamie’s reactions are any indication, it looks like the hard work at Cadillac is beginning to pay off, and that is very good for business.

Type of vehicle: Rear-wheel-drive, front-engine, mid-size sedan
Engine: 3.6-litre, twin-turbocharged, DOHC V6
Power: 420 hp @ 5,750 r.p.m.; 430 lbs.-ft @ 3,500 — 4,500 r.p.m.
Transmission: 8-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control
Brakes: Front and rear disc with ABS
Tires: P245/40R18 (front); P275/35R18 (rear)
Price: base/as tested: $74,495 / $76,650
Destination charge: $1,700
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy L / 100 km: City 13.5 (21.0 mpg); Highway 8.4 (34.0 mpg)

About Russell Purcell