Skip advert
Advertisement

Cadillac BLS

If ever an American model should be a success in the UK, this is it - the BLS. Could it be the American dream?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Find your Cadillac BLS
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Hassle-free way to a brand new car
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

It's the car Cadillac had to get right, but have designers done enough to better the Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series? First impressions are that they've finished wide of the mark. Diesels are key in this market and the BLS oil-burner's numb steering is a letdown. But competitive prices, a smooth ride and striking looks could be enough to tempt some buyers.

Advertisement - Article continues below

With the well known badge on the bonnet, Cadillac designers have focused on making a car purely for Europe for the first time. And featuring dimensions that pitch it squarely at the hugely popular compact executive class, the resulting BLS could be the firm's big breakthrough.

Cadillac is already selling vehicles in Britain but, since dedicated dealers opened their doors on these shores last year, the message has been clear: "The BLS will be the top seller." Now the time has come to see if the saloon can cut it with the best.

A dominant grille and boxy rear, featuring vertically stacked light clusters, will appeal to buyers looking for a saloon that stands out on the road.

The interior layout is simple with clear dials, an uncluttered console and a high-quality Bose stereo. Air-con and an on-board computer are standard, but the BLS is let down by cheap plastics on the door handles and the tacky analogue clock. The thumb-trapping handbrake, borrowed from the Saab 9-3 - which is built on the same platform - also irritates. In the back, the BLS is cramped, with limited legroom for passengers. The biggest problem for drivers, though, is the pedal arrangement, as they are deep-set and sit close together. And it's a pity the seats don't offer better side support - cornering results in occupants sliding round.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

More reviews

In-depth reviews
Road tests

But a slippery chair won't be the only reason for drivers clinging on to the wheel. If there's one thing that a US car company designing a vehicle for Europe has to get right, it's the steering. Yet we couldn't help but be disappointed by the lack of precision and feel through the BLS's system.

Thankfully, not all models have the same set-up. The high-performance 2.8-litre V-6T petrol variant's steering has been uprated to give a sportier feel than that of the less powerful versions. We drove the V-6T and diesel back-to-back, and the 255bhp petrol model is very refined with plenty of pace, but suffers from noticeable turbo lag. Only wind noise and a slight whine from the automatic transmission break the silence in the cabin.

The firm's first turbodiesel - a 1.9-litre 150bhp TiD - is also remarkably quiet. Coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox, it delivers peak torque at 2,750rpm, and doesn't suffer from the same lag as the flagship petrol model.

Both cars are front-wheel drive and benefit from a well cushioned ride, which makes the Caddy a comfortable long-distance cruiser.

The BLS goes on sale in the UK next month at the firm's 12 showrooms, and another six dealerships are set to open by the end of the year. Cadillac hopes to get round the problem of its limited network by offering customers a collection and drop-off service.

Three grades of trim are offered - Comfort, Elegance and Sport - with prices starting at around £20,000 for the entry-level 2.0-litre 175bhp turbo petrol, rising to £31,000 for the range-topping V-6T petrol variant.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Mercedes says ‘no thank you’ to EQ: EV brand to be axed
Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 - EQS badge
News

Mercedes says ‘no thank you’ to EQ: EV brand to be axed

Mercedes will roll back EQ branding for its electric cars as the first generation of EV models reaches the end of its lifecycle.
15 May 2024
UK faces “epidemic” of young uninsured drivers
Car crash
News

UK faces “epidemic” of young uninsured drivers

The number of young people convicted of driving without insurance has tripled since 2021, due to sky-rocketing premiums
17 May 2024
Car Deal of the Day: SEAT Leon is an ideal family hatchback for £165 a month
SEAT Leon TSI EVO - front tracking
News

Car Deal of the Day: SEAT Leon is an ideal family hatchback for £165 a month

Excellent interior quality and efficiency make the SEAT Leon our Deal of the Day for 17 May
17 May 2024