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.