From £26,990
The most complete Cadillac yet to reach the UK

What is it?

Cadillac's second-generation CTS, now available in the UK in right-hand drive. Like its predecessor, it's sized approximately half way between the BMW 3-series and 5-series, with its appeal based around distinctive style, copious standard equipment and generous prices.

Behind the CTS's distinctive looks lies a thoroughly conventional mechanical package, with V6 petrol engines (a smaller capacity 2.8 is also available), a standard six-speed automatic gearbox and rear wheel drive.

The range-topping 3.6 boasts a competitive 308bhp and is claimed to be capable of turning in a 6.3sec 0-62mph time and a 150mph top speed.

What's it like?

Good in parts. In terms of its talents, this is the most complete Cadillac yet to reach these shores - although that's hardly glowing praise.

GM has decided to re-engineer the CTS for right-hand drive despite the fact that only a few hundred examples a year will be sold in the UK, believing that it will help to win hearts and minds to the brand's new, sportier direction.

Visually it looks far better than the slabby previous-generation CTS, with neat details (including a very intricate front wing stamping) and plenty of what the design team refer to as 'bling'.

The interior is very good for an American car, too, with a UK models getting a standard leather-stitched dashboard top and a well designed instrument fascia. An advanced touch-screen satnav and multimedia audio system is standard.

Yes, there are still some patches of cheap materials - the electric window switches lack the premium feel that GM has strived for - but you have to look for them. As a static proposition, it's an impressive package.

Unfortunately the range-topping CTS's driving dynamics conspire to let it down slightly. The engine has to be worked hard to deliver on its performance claims, and sounds thrashy when you do so, and the gearbox software lacks much in the way of finesse, kicking down aggressively in response to requests for overtaking urge.

The 3.6 also gets sports suspension as standard, which seems to have been set up with little regard for Britain's jagged road surfaces, over which it feels too stiff.

The good news is that the 2.8's softer springs and dampers are far better. Steering feel is good, though - and the brakes are strong and easily modulated.

A couple of other details disappoint slightly, too - the old-fashioned key looks and feels very cheap for a car trying to compete in this segment, and the speedometer (which can be switched between mph and km/h) is vastly over-calibrated when asked to read in miles - going all the way to 270mph.

So, should I buy one?

GM acknowledges that the petrol-powered CTS will be a very niche proposition when it goes on sale, with most interest reserved for the forthcoming V6 diesel powerplant.

On the plus side, it's well-engineered, comprehensively equipped and different from anything else out there - but the high running costs and dynamic flaws mean it's appeal will be limited.

Mike Duff

Join the debate

Add a comment…
reidbrand 13 August 2008

Re: Cadillac CTS 3.6 V6

First thing about the Cadillac Division, I hope there not using Canexpo as a distributer as they are just likely to pull out with poor sales like they did when they sold through Vauxhall 3.6 motor. Can be very rough running. The 6 speed automatic is a dog changes up and down when you least expect it, not a smooth tranny at all. To get sales anywhere near the 300C wait for the diesel

hurricaneone 11 August 2008

Re: Cadillac CTS 3.6 V6

I don't know how they can justify developing a RHD model with UK sales hovering around the 500-unit-per-year number.

Maybe other markets are more tempted, or perhaps this is just another GM stab in the dark.

I sat in one at the BMS and thought it was well screwed together - without driving you can't tell much else - something GM has failed to do for decades, so if you fancy something different...

For the same money I'd go for a used 530d, but then again, I enjoy getting at least some money back for my initial cash outlay.

A R Chen 10 August 2008

Re: Cadillac CTS 3.6 V6

Kudos to Cadillac for realizing there is a market for quasi-luxury cars which are not dominated by rappers and the like.

This new CTS does have a few things going for it although I doubt it will win over any Mercedes, Audi or BMW owners in Europe. In my opinion, it's a step in the right direction for Cadillac if they are ever going to establish themselves as an international brand again. The interior of this new CTS looks far more tasteful that what I have seen in other American cars to date.

Cadillac are also being realistic about the immediate sales potential for this car especially given current economic conditions. For their efforts, I do hope they are successful in selling the cars they send to Europe and the UK.

I hope they change the awful tail lights though. Given that the Cadillac's styling is 'vertically inclined' (not sure what to call it, frankly) both front and rear, having clear tail light lenses may confuse the unfamiliar whether they are looking at the face or the ass of the car.