2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe: Magic on Wheels
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Sometimes a car can appear to be as magical as its surroundings. Once such vehicle is the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe I tested in Florida, to and from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando.
Cadillac, the luxury division of General Motors was founded in 1902 by master mechanic Henry Leland, who named his automobile company after French nobleman Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, Sieyr de Cadillac, founder of Detroit in 1703. The company was purchased by GM in 1909 and by 1915 became a pioneer of modern automobile mass production as it simultaneously instituted the concept of interchangeable precision parts while launching its status as America’s premier luxury car manufacturer.
Moving ahead nine decades, Cadillac introduced the CTS sports sedan in 2002, as a line replacement for the Catera. Successfully reviving the Cadillac brand, CTS has moved into the niches of sport wagon and coupe in 2011, with the CTS becoming the first Caddy to wear the coupe label since the Eldorado was put out to pasture in 2002.
The exciting wedge-shaped luxury ride is a true head-turner. During my week of test driving it, the CTS Coupe generated excitement and garnered vocal praise and approving nods from Tampa to Clearwater to the Universal/Islands of Adventure parks in Orlando. Just outside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a guard remarked, “Magic. I haven’t seen this one before … I had heard about it, but in person, this is one hot, classy car.”
The magical “hotness” is embodied in a unitized welded steel body with direct-mounted front cradle. Its exterior cues begin with classic hardtop styling, utilizing no conventional B-pillar and employing a 62.3-degree windshield angle and a long, nearly horizontal backglass area. They combine to create a dramatic profile, culminating in a hand-sculpted look with a carved lower front fascia, unique brake-cooling vents, rear fascia with mesh lower grilles, signature vertical lighting highlighted with LED light pipes, rear spoiler integrated into the signature center high-mounted stop lamp and a pronounced centerline crease, to achieve a visually aggressive, sporty demeanor.
Weighing in at a confident 3931 lbs, CTS stands 188.5 inches long, 55.9 inches high and 74.1 inches wide on a 113.4-inch wheelbase.
Demonstrating substance as well as style, CTS delivers on performance promises with a sand-cast aluminum, direct-injection 3.6-liter V-6 VVT engine with spark-ignition and a cast aluminum head. Mated to a 6-speed Hydramatic transmission, the set-up quietly gallops out 304 hp and 273 lbs-ft of torque.
On the highway, CTS accelerates quickly and silently with sports-car momentum that is available in all ranges. On the track, my test Coupe delivered a zero-to-60 sprint in 6.5 seconds and aired out a quarter-mile in an effortless 15-flat; but it seemed much faster than that.
EPA rated at 18/27 on unleaded regular, repeated treks across central Florida, from beach to theme park and back yielded an average of 23.3 mpg.
On the interstate as well as on the track, the CTS Coupe is a handling pro. Quick forced turns produce some understeer, and steering improves from boatlike at low speed to tight at high velocity. Response is unhesitating and balance is wide and firm. The limited slip differential, independent SLA front suspension with monotube shock absorbers and 29mm hollow stabilizer bar, and independent multi-link rear with monotube shock absorbers and 25.4 mm hollow stabilizer bar make for a very pampering ride for driver and passengers.
Michelin P235/50R 18 all-season Vs up front and P265/45Rs in the rear, coupled with 4-channel StabiliTrak with brake assist and 4-wheel disc, 4-channel ABS brakes create solid grip and stopping power.
Inside, my Crystal Red Premium edition was accented by a Light Titanium and Ebony color scheme. The comfortable cabin with seating for four provided 36.9 inches of front headroom with 34.6 inches in row two; legroom of 42.4 inches and 35 inches and shoulder room of 56.1 inches in the first row and 40.9 in the rear seats.
The layout is one of technical precision and elegant, hand-crafted details. From the center console to the center stack, the cockpit is sporty and refined.
The interior includes hand-sewn accents covering the door, center storage console and instrument panel trim. Upscale amenities include heated and ventilated seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seats, power adjustable front seats, integrated iPod/MP3 capability, 40-gig hard drive, including the ability to store music and pause-and-replay live radio, pop-up navigation system that often got “confused”, adaptive forward lighting system, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless access and Smart Remote Start, rear vision camera system, Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround™ audio system and power/tilt sunroof.
Safety features include dual-stage driver front air bag, segment-first dual-depth front passenger air bag, driver and front passenger side seat-mounted pelvic/thorax side air bags, roof-rail side curtain air bags that cover front and rear seating rows, tire pressure monitoring system and a body structure with strategically placed high-strength steel.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe starts at $47,010 and my vehicle as tested stickered at $48,940 after upgrades for exterior paint ($995), underhood appearance package ($110) and destination charges of $825.
For under $50,000, the luxury, performance and styling of the CTS Coupe are “magic.”
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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