Cadillac has never stamped its authority in the UK, but after numerous unsuccessful attempts, the new CTS is here to front its latest product offensive.
Now in its third-generation, the CTS won’t get an easy ride having to battle it out with established German execs like the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. It gets off to a good start though, with a much sleeker design than the outgoing model.
A part aluminium body helps shed 128kg from the kerbweight, while longer dimensions and a lower roofline gives a more athletic stance. The only engine to be offered in Europe is the new 272bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, mated with a six-speed autom gearbox. It develops more power and torque than any of its four-pot rivals, but a sluggish 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds means it never feels as fast as its power figures suggest.
Shortcomings in pace aren’t made up by economy either, with Cadillac claiming 31mpg, some way off the 41.5mpg of the much cheaper BMW 528i. There’s a little less interior space for rear passengers than you’d find in the BMW too, but head and legroom are still adequate.
Our test car was fitted with optional four-wheel drive, which splits power between the front and the rear axles depending on which needs it most. The system works well, keeping the CTS feeling planted on the road, and you can really feel the extra traction in damp conditions.
Keep it in auto and the CTS does a decent job of rifling through the gears when you press on, but flick it into manual and changes becomes lethargic and jerky. The steering is precise, however, with the variable-assist rack weighting up nicely when you select sport mode.
Every model comes fitted as standard with magnetic ride control, helping flatten out any imperfections on the road. On smooth Portuguese tarmac the CTS was almost faultless, wafting along with little fuss, even on the rougher surfaces we found.
Our biggest gripes with Cadillac’s of old were with interior quality, and that is something the designers have clearly tried to address with the latest model. A more spacious and driver-focused interior can be trimmed with a wood, carbon fibre or aluminium finish and conventional dials and buttons have been replaced with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The traditional instrument cluster has also been ditched in favour of a 12.3-inch LCD readout.
A Bose surround sound system and leather seats are standard across the range, with those in the front being heated and ventilated, too. There’s a lot more attention to detail and sense of sophistication in the CTS, from the extended use of soft-touch materials to the slick infotainment system. There’s very little separating Cadillac’s latest offering from its German counterparts in terms of quality.
Yet, despite huge advancements in quality, ride, styling and refinement, the CTS will once again struggle to tempt people away from their German execs. Frugal diesel motors are some way off yet and only being available in left-hand drive will be enough on its own to deter most UK buyers, however good the product.