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BREAK ON THROUGH

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Apr 19, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

BREAK ON THROUGH By Harvey Schwartz

GM is turning a corner now by building excellent automobiles with the Cadillac luxury brand leading the resurgence. One look, one drive and you'll appreciate what the designers and engineers at Cadillac have accomplished with the new CTS. It is more sophisticated, faceted, with elegant chrome trim, and with a large center-positioned wreath and crest, adds to the new three-dimensional look. It appears more concept car and less traditional luxury car. The accomplishment has not gone unnoticed. Motor Trend magazine named the Cadillac CTS its "2008 Car of the Year." Taking a closer look up front is the Cadillac Sixteen concept car's grille that is more vertical, dual-textured and dramatic. The car's more athletic form is characterized by the sculpted fenders that emphasize the car's wider track and enhanced chassis dynamics. The front fenders feature side air extractors that recall a styling element from Cadillac's past that was revised on the Sixteen concept and the new Escalade. The stacked lamp cluster features halogen lamps standard, with low-energy LEDs and crisp, high-intensity discharge xenon lamps that swivel in concert with vehicle steering, optional. The lower bumper features foglamps and air-intakes channeling air directly to the front brakes. The lower splitter helps with downforce enabling the CTS to cut deeper into curving roads and to maintain stability at higher cruising speed.

From the side, the CTS has a faster and nearly coupe-like profile, owing to both its increased performance potential and more evolved styling theme. Lower side extensions give the new CTS a lower stance that increased handling chrome air extractors located on the top of each fender give it a sportier look. A double sunroof borrows from the Cadillac's SRX crossover, enables both front and rear seat passengers a sky view. The uniquely styled rear fascia features a sculpted rear bumper with chrome strip affixed to the top of it, large, vertical rear LED lamps, a chrome strip above the license plate surround, a rear diffuser the help with channeling the air out the back and two, chrome, three-inch round, exhaust tips nicely spread apart. The look is fresh and dynamic as the CTS looks like it is in motion when parked. Coupled with a new overall shape, the most evolutionary dimension of the all-new CTS comes in the form of a two-inch wider track as a result of the addition of the new, optional all-wheel-drive configuration. The wider stance gives the new CTS a more planted, capable and well-grounded appearance that's exemplified by much tighter tire-to-fender relationships. The wider stance also enables more tumblehome - the vehicle sides are sculpted inward-delivering an appearance of rear-wheel-drive performance with a lower roof line, without compromising headroom or a roomy interior. Additionally, a wider, tapering sail panel, lower, more sculpted hood, smoother wheel housing lips and a tighter wheel-to-body relationship help communicate the CTS' agility as well as its sophistication and substance. Completing the look are standard seven spoke, 17x8-inch wheels or optional nine-spoke 18x8.5 wheels, either painted or machined. These wheels are wrapped with high-performance, all-season radial tires.

Bolstering an already stiff and torsional, unitized welded steel frame, Cadillac engineers aimed for the quietness and appearance of the finest prestige sedans by lavishing attention on sights and sounds of the body construction. An innovative laser brazing technique affixes the roof panel more crisply. The windshield glass is free from visible rubber seals and joints. The hood borrows techniques from door panels to improve sealing and noise control. The doors themselves are triple-sealed. Sound levels were analyzed inside the cabin not just for reduced quantity, but also increased quality. The all-new CTS is now firmly a part of the growing list of entry level luxury class sedans with it's unique styling, precise performance, and outstanding craftsmanship with the latest high-tech goodies inside. Built in the USA, the CTS will save the consumer many thousands of dollars over the comparable import brands. The new CTS features two engine options: a 3.6 liter VVT engine making 263 horsepower, and the 3.6 liter VVT Direct Injection V6 engine generating a healthy 304 horsepower. Both engines are mated to Hydra-Matic 6L50 6-speed automatic taken from the 469-horsepower Cadillac STS-V and is designed to decrease engine rpm and enhance overall fuel economy. On vehicles equipped with the new AWD system, the 6L50 will be equipped with a new active transfer case that automatically transfers torque from the rear to the front of the CTS for optimal traction, safety and performance. Both 3.6 liter engines come standard with a limited-slip differential to get all of the power and torque down. With VVT the torque band is flat and you have 90 perent of torque at low RPM's with either engine, but with the new Direct Injection fuel is delivered directly to the combustion chamber to create a more complete burn of the air/fuel mixture. Less fuel is required to produce the equivalent hp, especially at normal cruising speeds, of a conventional port-injection combustion system.

Driving dynamics is increased with a greatly revised chassis featuring a two-inch wider track and the application of AWD. Riding fun and pleasure are up to the consumer as the CTS features three distinct suspension tuning levels that were engineered and tested along the world-famous Nurburgring race track. The use of aluminum in the upper and lower front control arms and knuckles helps reduce mass and contributes to higher limits in handling and dynamic wheel control. Front suspensions for the rear-drive model and the AWD version, while similar, have been designed to best meet the chassis dynamics of the individual's versions. The engine cradle has six attachment points, two more than typically used on a performance sedan, to better heavier loads and engine vibration. New for CTS is a tower-to-tower brace that adds cross-car stiffness and enhances the overall steering feel. This is an innovation from the high-performance CTS-V model that has been modified and adapted for use in the new CTS. The multi-link rear has a fully isolated subframe, is an uncompromising design with excellent suspension kinematics that deliver a superior ride with excellent handling. The rear suspension design is shared in both the rear-wheel and AWD models, and has been extensively revised to accommodate the wide rear track. With either of the three suspension setups that you choose, you'll appreciate the response at speed and the compliant ride when traveling over rough road surfaces. While the FE1 tune has no limited-slip differential because of the softer suspension tune for a luxury type of ride, the FE2 and FE3 comes with a limited-slip differential and features higher rate coil springs, monotube shocks and thicker hollow stabilizer bars front and rear. The braking and steering systems for CTS are all-new, with extensive changes to increase responsiveness, premium feel and performance in spirited driving situations. It is up to you how you want to drive or have the new CTS respond to your inputs. When you order the 304-horsepower Direct Injection 3.6 liter VVT V6 CTS you get the sport-tuned FE3 suspension, 3.42 final drive ratio, bigger brakes and wider, high-performing Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires wrapping 18x8.5 wheels. Keeping you out of trouble is the finely tuned advanced chassis technology in the form of Cadillac's StabiliTrak electronic chassis control system that works together with the full-function traction control, hydraulic brake assist, ABS and the engine drag control systems. With either engine or suspension tune, you will enjoy the ride that the new CTS offers.

There is no noise, vibration or harshness to disappoint a real luxury and performance ride. You'll enjoy acceleration with the CTS of 0-60 mph in just 5.9 seconds, and an even faster 5.4 seconds with the more powerful 3.6 liter V6 direct injection engine and more responsive FE3 suspension tune riding on meatier tires. Driving response and dynamics with either the FE1, FE2 or FE2 suspension tunes are as good as any of the other entry-level luxury sedans. Cadillac doesn't disappoint on the inside as they have paid attention to workmanship, detail and materials that is on par with the competition. Grab the large pull-out door handle, open the door and look at what Cadillac now offers. You first notice the hand-cut and sewn soft leather trim on the dashboard shelf and door trim, French stitching on the optional leather trimmed seats; metallic finishes, chrome accents and available Sapele Pommele wood trim surround the cabin. The instrument panel sweeps forward and away from passengers for more real and perceived space. The cluster features a chrome trimmed 160 mph speedometer, 8,000 rpm tachometer, with fuel, oil pressure and fuel gauges. The center stack flows seamlessly into the console, creating a cockpit-like space. The unique interior lighting features several LED elements that are recessed in strategic locations for indirect, soft lighting. Dramatically different from the original CTS, the new interior is decidedly more upscale, with added ornamentation, luxury and attention to detail. Standard equipment not mentioned above includes power windows/door locks, tires pressure monitor, leather wrapped/tilting/telescoping steering wheel with auxiliary controls, dual-zone climate control, eight-way power adjustable driver-bucket seat, remote keyless entry, power heated outside mirrors, inside rearview with auto dimming, variable-speed wipers/washers, cruise-control, driver-information center, rear seat pass-through to trunk, grab handles above each rear door, pull-down rear center console with storage and dual cupholders, thick-cut pile carpeting with floor mats, AM-FM stereo, CD, MP3 format, Bose eight-speaker system and three-month XM Satellite radio subscription. Options not mentioned above include heated and ventilated seats, Ultra-View double sunroof, fog lamps, interior LED perimeter lighting, advanced navigation system featuring real-time traffic and weather data, expanded voice-prompts and 3-D imaging of major landmarks, Bose 5.1 cabin surround sound 10-speaker system, 40GB hard drive, USB port for iPod integration and battery charging, remote start, and adaptive forward HID lighting with LED light pipes.

The all-new CTS is one of the most technologically advanced luxury sedans as far as safety is concerned. The structure features high-strength steel, front/rear crumple zones, steel beams in each door, front and side airbags up front with head curtain side airbags in the front and rear, front safety belt pretensioners, daytime running lamps, auto lamps, power door locks that are programmable, child security rear door locks, one-year ONSTAR directions with turn-by-turn navigation and all of ONSTAR's emergency systems. Cadillac has got it going now. The all-new 2008 CTS matches up perfectly with the import competition by not only offering a sedan that is fun and exciting to drive, but also boasts an interior that is beautifully designed and executed to a the highest degree. Better yet, the CTS model that I tested was priced at just $36,995.00 including options like 10-way power/heated leather seats with memory, 6-speed automatic transmission, Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound with 40GB hard drive, and heated windshield wiper fluid. Drive the new CTS and you will agree that Cadillac is once again on the same stage as the best performance luxury sedans.

© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz SUMMARY JUDGMENT With the new CTS, the question is not whether Cadillac can compete with the Europeans. It's more the other way around. For more information about Cadillac products, go to www.cadillac.com More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name: 2008 Cadillac CTS Price: $32,750.00 base/$46,440.00 loaded Engine type: 3.6 liter DOHC VVT V6 3.6 liter DOHC VVT Direct Injection V6 Horsepower: 263hp at 6,200rpm 304hp at 6,300rpm Torque: 253lb.ft. at 3,100rpm 273lb.ft. at 5,200rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel-drive, optional AWD Transmission type: 6-speed automatic with sequential shifting Front suspension: Independent, SLA (aluminum short/long arms) with monotube shocks, coil springs, 29mm hollow stabilizer bar with six-attachment points, front strut tower brace. Rear suspension: Independent, aluminum multi-link with monotube shocks, coil springs, 20mm hollow stabilizer bar with fully isolated subframe. Wheels and tires: 17X8in. alloy wheels/18X9in. alloy wheels 235/55R17in. tires/235/50ZR18in. high-performance tires Brakes: Front:13.8in. vented discs, dual-piston calipers Rear: 13.5in. vented discs, single-piston calipers ABS/Traction Control/StabiliTrak Total length: 191.6in. Total width: 72.5in. Total height: 58in. Curb weight: 3,845 RWD/4,090lbs. AWD EPA mileage: 258hp V6-18mpg/city, 26mpg/highway 304hp V6: 17mpg/city, 26mpg/highway More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

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