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Caddy CTS looks sweet the second time around

April 06, 2007|by MALCOLM GUNN / Wheelbase Communications

The car that singlehandedly helped revive the once-floundering Cadillac marque will arrive, redesigned, in a few months with even more ground-breaking content beneath its svelte skin.

The launch of the original CTS back in 2002 as a 2003 model was a just-in-time idea for General Motors' premium brand. The car it replaced, the German-influenced Catera, simply failed to create much buzz with buyers who instead chose entry-luxury cars from Europe and Japan. In truth, the entire Cadillac lineup was in need of resuscitation, especially since its aging fanbase was dwindling.

What a difference a few years makes.

The CTS, with it's ultra-crisp sheet metal and competent handling abilities, generated new interest and renewed enthusiasm for Cadillac and demonstrated that it was a worthy contender against the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. The CTS also set the tone for a host of new Caddy models that followed, including sedans, wagons, sport-utes and even a two-seat roadster based on the Corvette platform.

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As a bellwether for future models in the lineup, the CTS thankfully maintains a freshly ironed body and shuns the use of excess trim. The designers, however, were clearly influenced by the performance-focused 400-horsepower CTS-V's wire-mesh grille and it shows in the dominant chromed air intake of the new model.

Also obvious is the 2-inch-wider track (the distance between the left and right wheels) that appears to cause the fenders to bulge outward in an frantic attempt to contain the tires. Other key measurements such as length, width and height have been modestly increased for 2008.

In back, vertical taillamps frame an abbreviated trunk lid that has become a traditional CTS styling cue. The taut new CTS shape conveys strength and purpose and manages to make an even bolder statement than the original.

As with the first CTS, Caddy's engineers used Germany's famed Nrburgring race track as well as public thoroughfares throughout Europe, Asia and North America to fine-tune the suspension.

On the inside, the CTS is in tune with its more expensive stablemates with old-world-style stitching around the leather seats, steering wheel and shifter boot. The satin-metallic dashboard and door trim can be upgraded to real wood and the standard eight-speaker Bose audio system can be replaced by a harder-hitting 10-speaker surround-sound unit.

Other interior upgrades include a large sunroof, heated and cooled front seats, keyless unlocking/start and a DVD-based navigation system that includes details of freeway exits, gas stations, restaurants, etc., covering more than seven million miles of roads throughout North America. The full array of standard and optional equipment will be revealed closer to the car's actual arrival date.

Under the hood, Cadillac has added more fortification to the CTS with two versions of the 3.6-liter V-6. The tamer of the two carries over from the current model and puts out 258 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque, while the high-output version develops an estimated 300 horses and a torque rating of 270 lb.-ft. Either motor is available with a six-speed manual transmission with a sporty short-throw shifter, or an optional six-speed automatic.

Both models can be ordered in rear- or all-wheel drive, a CTS first.

The previous 2.8-liter V-6, which served as the base powerplant, will be relegated for use in cars destined for overseas export.

Also, sources indicate that an all-new ultrafast (and expensive) CTS-V model is nearing the final development stage for a possible 2008 or '09 arrival. The previous CTS-V carried a Corvette-based V-8 with 400-plus horsepower, so we'll have to wait and see how Cadillac intends to outdo itself.

The new CTS builds on the success of the initial car and will wow its audience with an outstanding encore. It completes the task with tasteful attention to detail and refinement that will make it an even tougher competitor in the entry luxury class.

Copyright 2007 Wheelbase Communications

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