Cadillac BLS

31 Oct, 2007 3:46am Jorg Maltzan

Cadillac's BLS estate offers attractive pricing and a generous range of standard equipment, but is that good enough?

Verdict

4
The BLS hasn’t been a huge success for Cadillac, but the Wagon model is a welcome addition. Using trusted Saab underpinnings, it’s a distinctive choice in a market dominated by the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Although it can’t match their quality, its attractive pricing and generous range of standard equipment hold plenty of appeal for family and business buyers. The flagship 400Nm bi-turbodiesel engine is impressive, although lesser powerplants will be more affordable when the first examples reach showrooms.

History in the making... the Cadillac BLS Wagon is the first estate car in the American brand’s 104 years. And it’s made a pretty good job of it, too!

In fairness, the BLS has a bit of a head start because it shares its under­pinnings with the Saab 9-3 Sport­wagon. It’s even built at the same factory as the Swede, but it’s unlikely you’ll get the two cars confused.

The Caddy’s angular styling suits the load-lugger’s extended roofline. Its chiselled waistline, squared-off side windows and alloy roof rails provide a distinctive profile, while the modest 419-litre boot extends to 1,285 litres when you fold the rear seats.

It’s more spacious up front, where generous standard kit includes items such as cruise control. On the road, the stiff ride can be uncomfortable over rough surfaces, but it’s fine everywhere else, and the trade-off is suspension that delivers decent handling. Only the steering, which lacks both precision and feedback, lets down the dynamic package.

We drove the new bi-turbo TTiD oil-burner and while it won’t be available at the car’s launch early next year, it’s an impressive performer. The smaller turbo is designed to operate at low revs and the larger one at the upper end of the range. The result is a complete absence of lag, and in-gear acceleration is fantastic. Fuel eco­nomy of 43.4mpg also impresses.

When it goes on sale in the spring, engine choices will comprise a 148bhp 1.9-litre diesel and three petrol units. Add the Wagon’s practicality, and the resulting car is a more attractive pro­position than the saloon.

Rival: Saab 9-3 Sportwagon
Although the Saab is closely related to the Cadillac, it comes with the added appeal of the trusted Swedish brand. The 9-3 was facelifted earlier this year, but its styling splits opinion.

Key specs

* Price: £26,000 (est)
* Engine: 1.9-litre 4cyl, 177bhp
* Transmission: Six-speed manual
* Econ./CO2: 43.4mpg/175g/km
* Standard equipment: Air-con, cruise control, alloys, roof rails, seven-speaker stereo
* On sale: 2008

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