From £71,5306
Cadillac's new luxury saloon is good to drive but simply can't match European rivals when it comes to the bigger picture

What is it?

Cadillac is back for another crack at the European market. Only this time, it really means it. Well, kind of.

The General Motors brand has now admitted what we knew all along: it just can’t compete with the likes of Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz on their home soil, so it isn’t going to try.

What it can do, however, is offer is a selection of distinctively styled models with plenty of equipment, powerful engines and, hopefully, some decent driving dynamics, thanks to the new models being lighter. It also hopes to build up a customer base of discerning buyers who ‘get’ the brand and give it some visibility and credibility in Europe.

The first of these new models is the new Cadillac CT6. It sits in the luxury saloon segment alongside the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but it’s perhaps closest in ideology to the Jaguar XJ.

For the CT6 comes with a bit more of a sporting brief, being constructed from a mix of steel and aluminium to keep the weight down, while power comes from an all-new twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol (the sole engine option in the UK). It also has all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and Magnetic Ride adaptive damping.

With that spec, you may also have noticed some of the holes in the CT6’s armoury in Europe: the absence of a diesel engine and, at least for UK buyers, the fact that it’s left-hand drive only. Oh, and the £69,990 starting price. This makes it more expensive than any of its rivals in their standard forms, although the Cadillac comes fully loaded as standard, with the only option being colour.

What's it like?

Kudos to Cadillac: it has gone and made a big saloon that looks and feels like no other. This isn’t some homogenised bland box either to look at or drive; it has real character and distinction. Those looks ain’t to my tastes, but hell, at least it's distinctive and recognisable as a Cadillac, when in truth the brand has no real right or expectation to be recognised as anything at all here in Europe.

Let’s start with the good stuff. It feels light on its feet, nimble even. It won’t necessarily thrill through corners, but it does display impressive agility and a lightness of touch. Although the Cadillac is no lighter than its rivals, all of the heavy steel bits have been put in the middle of the car, so with aluminium front and rear ends, a light engine and a long wheelbase, it turns in nicely and is easy to point out of a corner.

The four-wheel steering is probably playing a part in all this, although the CT6 may well feel lighter and more nimble still if you made it rear-drive only. Still, the steering itself is decent, offering good feel if not any real involvement.

The ride also scores points. This is a comfortable car. You can play around with the driving modes to increase the stiffness of the dampers, among other things, and there is a noticeable difference between the Normal mode, which is best for comfy cruising and displays impressive bump absorption around town, and Sport mode, which tightens the whole thing up without ruining comfort.

That comfort extends to the seats, both front and rear, and passengers in the back won’t be wanting for space. There’s impressive all-round visibility and the rear-view mirror can become a widescreen monitor at the touch of a button to give a much broader view of the road behind. It’s a nice touch.

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So there’s a nice amount of good stuff, then, but there’s some so-so stuff, too. Such as the powertrain. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it refinement-wise, it just doesn’t feel as quick as the numbers suggest and the delivery is a bit all or nothing.

It doesn’t sound great, either. A lot of this is down to the eight-speed automatic it's hooked up to, a torque converter that spends far too long converting its torque while also having a nasty habit of holding the wrong gear. Throttle response is blunt, too. Oh, and the economy is pretty dire; if you’re going to go with a big, powerful petrol engine and not a diesel, you might as well just stick a V8 in.

Where the CT6 really loses out against its rivals is the interior. At first glance it all looks rather lovely, with a big touchscreen, a big digital instrument cluster, lots of fancy-looking materials and some nice touches such as a little sleeve where you can tuck your smartphone out of the way and have it charged wirelessly.

But when you actually use it all, the graphics on the infotainment system are underwhelming, as is the touchpad you can use to control it as an alternative. And while those materials look okay, when you’re really up close and interacting with them they just lack the robust, quality feeling you’ll get in a German luxury saloon.

Should I buy one?

The CT6 is certainly not a bad car; it is interesting to drive, and probably to live with. But to win our recommendation it would need to better all its rivals in every key department, and that's before you even get to the caveat that it's left-hand drive only, costs seventy grand and will probably have some rather ugly depreciation. So it doesn’t.

We admire Cadillac for making it and giving UK buyers the chance to buy one officially and we would even more so if diesel or plug-in hybrid drivetrains and right-hand were offered. Still, we shall watch Cadillac’s progress with interest.

Cadillac CT6 Platinum

Location Berlin, Germany; On sale Now; Price £69,990; Engine V6, 2997cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 411bhp at 5700rpm; Torque 409lb ft at 2500-5100rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1950kg; 0-62mph 5.7sec; Top speed 149mph; Economy 28.2mpg (combined); CO2 rating/BIK tax band 223g/km, 37%

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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PAA 18 July 2016

Your review is unfair on a remarkable car

I believe you're too hard on Cadillac. They managed to give us a beautiful and plenty capable luxury car, enough to truly compete with the Euroboys and every paragraph is aimed to undermine this car. Even its price is turned to a negative when it is actually vastly cheaper than a similarly equipped german luxury. Do we want this iconic car company to stay in Europe and offer us more models and options or are we aiming to make it fail and send it away before it even arrived?
5wheels 16 July 2016

stupid price for stupid car

I think I would look rather carefully at anyone driving one of these, they have to be a bit - err off !!
jason_recliner 16 July 2016

Too Cool

What a sensational looking car. Very refreshing, as most modern sedans look totally rubbish.