2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe Review – Boise

A new Cadillac CTS Coupe has joined a growing family of CTS-branded vehicles. The family started with the CTS four-door sedan in 2003, based on a new rear-wheel-drive platform, a major change for a division that had been heavily front-wheel-drive for many years. Then Cadillac added the high-performance CTS-V, using a variant of the Chevrolet Corvette V8 engine and a manual transmission, and then added the slick CTS sport wagon. Now the CTS family includes a radically edgy coupe. Cadillac’s last coupe, the Eldorado, went out of production in 2002.

The powertrain chosen for the CTS Coupe is a 3.6-liter V6 engine with four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, and direct fuel injection, about as modern as any other V6 engine on the planet, and it is capable of producing a whopping 1.4 horsepower per cubic inch at engine speeds approaching 7000 rpm, or 304 horsepower from only 217 cubic inches, on regular fuel. For reference, the old 500 cubic-inch Cadillac V8 made 400 horsepower, or 0.8 horsepower per cubic inch, and generated unspeakably bad fuel economy, whereas the new engine can reach 27 mpg on the highway easily. Even in a car that weighs more than 4000 pounds with two people in it, the V6 pulls very strongly at full-throttle and sounds muscular and powerful while doing it, which some other V6 engines in this class do not.

The CTS Coupe is available with all-wheel drive.

The CTS Coupe offers a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s also available with an Aisin six-speed manual transmission, which comes with summer performance tires and rear-wheel drive. The Summer Tire Performance Package is also available with the automatic transmission equipped with paddle shifters.

What started out as a purely provocative concept vehicle under former GM product czar Bob Lutz got such a strong response that GM decided to build the CTS Coupe as a regular production vehicle to compete with the new rash of luxury coupes from the German and Japanese luxury brands. The sheetmetal, decoration and dimensions of the production coupe are all nearly identical to the concept vehicle, and it is one angular and angry-looking beast.

Inside, the CTS Coupe mimics all the other cars in the family with a rich mix of chrome, wood, leather, and in-car electronics and entertainment systems that are on par with any other vehicle in this relatively small class, with navigation, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio, OnStar, Stablitrak chassis control, and a comprehensive information display.

The CTS Coupe competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe, BMW 335i coupe, Audi A5, Lexus IS 350 C, and Infiniti G37 coupe.

The CTS-V Coupe boasts a 556-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V8, upgraded suspension, larger high-performance tires and alloy wheels, huge Brembo brakes, and GM’s Magnetic Ride Control shock absorbers, for what Cadillac claims is the world’s fastest sedan.

MODEL LINEUP

The Cadillac CTS Coupe ($38,165) comes with leather seating surfaces, dual-zone climate control, OnStar with navigation, directions and connections, 18-inch alloy wheels and P235/50VR18 tires, remote starting, keyless operation, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 eight-speaker Bose audio, power seats, mirrors and locks. The CTS Coupe AWD ($40,065) adds all-wheel drive.

The Performance Connection ($42,605) adds HID xenon headlamps, adaptive forward lighting, 10-way power leather seats, Bose 5.1 Surround Sound, USB integration, 40GB hard drive; it’s also available with AWD ($44,505). To that, the Premium Collection ($47,010) and AWD ($48,910) adds interior ambient lighting, rearview camera, heated/vented front seats, heated steering wheel, wood trim, navigation, sunroof.

Options include P245/45ZR19 front and P275/40ZR19 rear Continental summer tire performance package with 19-inch polished alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential, and manual transmission ($2,090); power sunroof ($700); navigation ($2,145).

The CTS-V Coupe ($62,165) features a 6.2-liter supercharged V8, paddle shift controls, Brembo brakes, Magnetic Ride Control, and 19-inch wheels with performance tires.

Safety features include front and side airbags, side air curtain, ABS, traction control, StabiliTrak electronic stability control. All-wheel drive is optional.

WALK AROUND

Is the CTS Coupe really all that different from the CTS sedan? Yes, and in some key places and dimensions. The coupe is virtually identical to the concept vehicle shown at the Detroit auto show in January of 2008.

The coupe’s wheelbase is the same as the sedan’s, but the roofline is two inches lower, the body is two inches shorter, and the rear track has been widened by two inches compared to the existing sedan, to plant those big tires. The windshield rake angle is much steeper than the sedan’s, at 62.3 degrees, and the rear window is nearly flat when viewed from the side.

The rear end treatment features a centered dual-exhaust outlet under the bumper that complements all of the other sharp angles on the car. In order to have good ingress/egress into the back seat, the coupe’s doors are as long as a summer day in June. There are no traditional door handles outside or inside; instead, the CTS Coupe uses pushbutton openers adapted from the Chevrolet Corvette. In spite of the very fast look of the coupe, the actual drag coefficient number is high for a coupe and high in this class, just under 0.36, when some of the competition is down around 0.26.

INTERIOR

2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

The interior of the CTS Coupe is pretty much the same as those of the CTS sedan and Sport Wagon, with a combination of analog and digital readouts in the main three-pod instrument cluster bathed in a very nice, crisp blue light that’s easy to see and easy on the eyes.

The interior designs have made the driver’s seat, center stack and center console into a well-organized command center, topped by a retractable navigation screen and slathered in brushed metal that can reflect lots of light in the wrong lighting conditions. There’s just the right amount of decorative wood on the door panels, steering wheel, instrument panel and console to lend an air of richness and luxury without looking like a Victorian library.

The front bucket seats are generously sized for American male drivers, they’re cushy without being mushy, and there are thick, supportive and retentive bolsters for the torso for long rides in the country. Nothing in here is difficult to see or understand or operate, and there is plenty of latitude for adjustment in the seats and steering wheel. It’s a lovely place to drive from.

There really is room for four American adults inside, although entry and exit at the rear are as cumbersome and difficult as with any coupe out there.

We give it high marks for fit, finish, materials, and especially its interior design, which differs not one jot from the sedan’s and which we love.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The 3.6-liter direction-injection V6 with dual overhead camshafts and 24 valves produces 304-horsepower, 273 foot-pounds of torque. The engine can be combined with one of two six-speed transmissions, an Aisin manual or a Hydra-Matic automatic with manual shift control. To get more acceleration out of the same engine as the sedan has, the CTS Coupe gets a lower 3.73:1 rear axle ratio. The CTS Coupe comes in a standard rear-drive layout, with computer-controlled all-wheel-drive optional.

In a brief driving experience over the course of two days in and around the Napa Valley in California’s wine country, the CTS Coupe offered no surprises. The 3900-pound coupe performed pretty much like the CTS V6 sedan, but quicker off the mark, with a good, solid V6 engine sound at full throttle, relatively quick upshifts and downshifts from the automatic and its steering-wheel paddles, and a reassuringly buttoned-down feel when it came to sticking to the asphalt.

The chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel leads down to a power steering system that feels connected and commanding, quick to turn in, and a slightly harsher ride than we were expecting, but not objectionable.

The brakes came on powerfully and progressively whenever one of Napa’s ever-present work trucks pulled out of a winery driveway.

Coupes are not for everyone, but if your tastes and lifestyle fit fine with a coupe, the Cadillac CTS Coupe is one to look at. While we could always wish for more power and less weight in a car that looks this advanced and adventurous, we think that the CTS Coupe’s level of performance on demand would satisfy a great many potential buyers, especially at 27 miles per gallon or more in touring driving situations. Its dynamics, handling and isolation are all very, very good. The level of luxury and the quality of build, fit and finish is very high, and the pure, edgy style of this car is breathtaking.

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