Currently reading: Greatest road tests ever: Cadillac BLS 2.9 TID Luxury
This well-thought-out saloon's high price was its fatal flaw

Tested 19.4.06

Hoping to crack Europe from the inside, GM badge-engineering allowed the distinctive, Trollhättan-built BLS to emerge from understated Saab origins.

Although the BLS retained the Saab 9-3’s roofline, windscreen and side windows, the designers did a good job of giving the Cadillac its own identity and its materials beat its Stateside brethren for quality. The 1.9-litre diesel engine and slightly notchy six-speed gearbox were familiar from the 9-3, Vauxhall Vectra and Alfa Romeo 159.

In top cog, the BLS made a refined cruiser and it managed an excellent 52mpg when touring. The engine liked to rev but wanted for low-end grunt and acceleration was merely acceptable. The steering was accurate but light and suffered kickback over mid-corner bumps while the rear suspension was floaty, robbing the Caddy of Alfa Romeo-rivalling agility. Ridges and potholes also upset the chassis. Brakes were fade free, though.

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The dashboard impressed with its style and was less fussy than the 9-3’s. Cabin space was good up front but leg room was tight in the back.

The BLS’s price was its fatal flaw, though, being £2500 higher than the equivalent 159.

For: Distinctive style, cruising refinement, economy

Against: Shortage of agility, steering kickback, high price

What happened next…

The BLS was also sold with 2.0-litre turbo and 2.8-litre V6 turbo petrol engines, the latter offering 251bhp and yielding a 0-60mph time of 6.5sec in manual form. The Wagon estate was introduced in 2008, just two years before the BLS was deleted. Today, there are about 220 BLSs on UK roads, according to howmanyleft.co.uk.

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Factfile

Price £25,073 Engine 4 cyls in line, 1910cc, turbo, diesel Power 148bhp at 4000rpm Torque 236lb ft at 2000rpm 0-60mph 9.5sec 0-100mph 29.2sec Standing quarter mile 17.3sec, 81.4mph Top speed 127mph Economy 35.4mpg

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ianp55 13 June 2022

Not a bad car at all but the General shot itself in the foot by not selling it in the North American market,after all the idea of selling a European built entry model had been tried before. That was for the Cadillac Catera  which was an Opel/Vauxhall Omega B that managed to sell 95,000 examples in five model years,which wasn't too bad. As a result Cadillac customers had to wait another three years before the ATS the first small US built compact Caddy since the ill fated Cimarron hit the market