2014 Cadillac CTS V6 First Drive

Head for the escape, E; tremble in fear, 5; the all-new CTS is here

By Shahzad Sheikh

2014 Cadillac CTS tested in UAE

During the course of the Dubai Motor Show, we grabbed a quick run up to Kalba/Fujairah and back in the all-new highly-anticipated Cadillac CTS – just launched here.

Compared to the old car, this has grown in size and capacity to bring it closer to the mid-size rivals its gunning for over at Mercedes and BMW – so it’s a very different machine to the old CTS, which was one of our very favourite American cars.

But whereas that was utterly desirable in CTS-V guise, and highly commendable in regular V6 flavour, it still felt a little behind-the-times and slightly rough around the edges compared to the Germans. Thing was the considerably lower price tag and those stunningly futuristic lines made up for it.

2014 Cadillac CTS tested in UAE

The new CTS is set on raising the stakes again though, it doesn’t want to concede anything this time. This should be a car you won’t have to make any excuses for.

It’s a handsome saloon, easily working in those now-signature sharp-edged creases and sharp corners to its perfect proportions – more cohesive than the larger XTS in fact. The overall styling is slightly toned down from the extreme rakish lines of the previous CTS – particularly the extraordinary coupe, but then this car is designed to appeal to a wider audience.

The best features are right there at the front. A very strong and bold face with a big grille that does away with any notion of a front bumper. The angled lines are particularly striking to behold in your rear-view mirror when this thing comes up behind you – which I suppose is the point!

There’s lots of interesting details, particularly the way the lower half of the vertical Daytime Running Light LEDs transform from white into orange indicators. Neat.

2014 Cadillac CTS tested in UAE

It comes here with two engine choices, the first a 2.0-litre turboed four-cylinder which puts out an incredible 272bhp and will get the CTS to 100kph from zero in 6.1 seconds (1.5 quicker than the previous car) prices starting from AED185k.

Plus there’s the 3.6-litre V6 putting out 321bhp and trimming two-tenths off that acceleration time to 5.9 seconds and which can be yours for just AED210 – around AED30k cheaper than a Merc E350. Incidentally the 2.0T will also be available with All-Wheel Drive, although the V6 is rear-drive only.

Obviously I made a beeline for the V6 and grabbed that for the drive up to Kalba. Around town, the vastly improved levels of refinement and quietness were immediately obvious. Apart from a bit of road-roar from the tyres there was hardly any noise intrusion.

2014 Cadillac CTS tested in UAE

It was easy to get comfortable behind the seat, the controls and infotainment system is straight out of the ATS playbook – which is to say it’s amongst the most modern and intuitive interfaces you’ll find in any current car. Some people have struggled with the CUE system interface, I don’t mind it personally.

But we had limited time with the cars, so we stopped fiddling with the instrumentation and concentrated on driving them. The cars are large but easy to place, thanks partly to the design, visibility didn’t prove a problem, though of course it has reversing cameras for parking.

The steering is light, accurate and responsive, the 8-speed auto (6-speed in the 2.0T) slurs the changes imperceptibly but faithfully and it’s a remarkably serene and easy drive in the city that’s satisfying as well as stylish.

It certainly performed well on the long motorway run, but the real question was how it would cope with the twisty section up in the mountains, particularly as the astonishing ATS had set such a high bar. Thing is this is a bigger car, and it feels it, so there’s no way it’ll touch the ATS for agility.

2014 Cadillac CTS tested in UAE

Having said that, scrub off speed thanks to the standard Brembo brakes, turn-in, and once you overcome the momentary initial understeer, the chassis seems to settle in and you get the confidence to move back onto the throttle.

It’s remarkably composed through the bends and the body control has much to do with the same system that gives the CTS such a good well-damped ride, Magnetic Ride Control, that benefits further from the fact that Caddy has resisted the temptation to put absurdly oversized wheels on this, and stuck with good looking 18-inch wheels albeit on low-profile tyres.

On the way back I grabbed some back-seat time in the 2.0T and can report the rear cabin space is vastly improved over the old car and even my 6fth plus frame had more than enough room to get comfortable – in fact it could probably trump its German rivals in this area too.

As a passenger, the 2.0T didn’t really appear to lose much performance compared to the V6, remaining punchy and potent. It doesn’t sound as nice as the V6, producing more of a dull drone rather than the silky thrum of the six-pot. But considering it was just as well kitted out and appointed, it doesn’t actually feel the lesser car either.

In conclusion then, building on the epochal game-changing success of the smaller ATS, the CTS ups the game when it comes to refinement, luxury, comfort and space, but gives away very little in terms of performance, dynamics and driver satisfaction. It looks super slick, is great to ride in, is packed with toys and it’s even enjoyable to steer, particularly in Sports mode which tightens up the ride and perks up the drivetrain.

We want a longer test in one, just to be sure though. And we want to go pick a fight with the Germans – we reckon it could take them!

2014 Cadillac CTS V6
Price: AED210,000
Engine: 3.6-litre V6, 321bhp @ 6800rpm, 373lb ft @ 4800rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 10.7/100km
Performance: 0-100kph 5.9 seconds, Top speed 250kph (est)
Weight: 1701kg

Which would you pick? Merc E350, BMW 535i or this new Caddy? Tell us below

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