Test Drive: 2008 Cadillac CTS: A Bimmer Beater?

Cadillac has recently released its new successor to the CTS name, and let me say that it is a very good looking car. The grill especially goes fantastic with Cadillacs new design theme. That theme is to help the company keep its hold on a bold style and also to use special cues from the Cadillac Sixteen concept car from 2003. The overall theme of the car fits well with the CTS’s image that it has achieved since its arrival. I recently got to test drive a Crystal Red 2008 CTS almost fully loaded with the 3.6 liter 304 horsepower engine. The only major options the car didn’t have was the optional interior trims (the standard plastic aluminum trim is on this particular car) and navigation. The grand total of the car was a little over 45,000 dollars.

Before I took the new car for a drive I just took a nice test walk around the car checking out the whole design package. I must say I loved the fender flares and the rear end. They both gave the car a real sporty yet luxurious style. I checked out the trunk space to find a decent size trunk but nothing too special. The front of the car didn’t hit me as hard as I expected and was slightly disappointed when looking at the new fender vents for the engine. They were ugly and stuck out of the actual body to only add a very cheap and plasticy style and feel to the car. I next popped the hood to realize that they whole hood felt like a giant piece of plastic. It was weightless and flimsy. The engine bay looked clean and pretty good with the plastic engine covers. The engine strut brace most definitely surprised me and added a nice sporty thought to my mind before I even got in to drive the car.

Once I was finished taking the disappointing walk around I hit the remote start button on the key fob and unlocked the car to get in. I turned the permanent key knob on the ignition and stuck the key in the cup holder. I took a nice look around the car. The car felt great already, comfortable, nice and an easy driving space. The seats were comfy and as bolstered as I expected. The roominess of the car was well evident and the back passengers have a good amount of room and comfort. There were however a few too many turning knobs on the dash for my liking and I kept turning the large media knob located front and center on the console for the volume to realize every time that it was the smaller one on the top left. Oh well, the radio is not a huge deal to me when I have 304hp under the bonnet ready for me to unleash. I took a close look and feel at the aluminum wannabe plastic center console and was let down once again. Finally I revved the engine to hear the sound and low and behold it would only rev to 4000 RPM when in park. What in the hell Cadillac? You put that much power in the car and we can’t even hear the full soundtrack when sitting still? Thanks, thanks a lot.

After being not so thrilled with the interior style I put the car in reverse and backed up a little. I then put the car in drive and took a closer look at my gauges and found that they are well appointed and looked excellent. There is a center gauge that tells you what drive you have selected and also your compass reading. Before I moved I switched off all of the traction and stability control systems by holding the button down for about five seconds. I pushed the shifter away to the right to engage in manual shift mode and already felt out of touch with the car. As I grabbed the steering wheel it felt nice but very odd. I thought to myself, not only has Cadillac used the same company that makes Mercedes-Benz’s dash but also stole their theory on how stupid the wheel should feel. The only way I can describe this kind of wheel is to take a cereal box, cut two holes in it to put your thumbs and hold it as you would a steering wheel. That is how dumb these steering wheels feel. I finally just stomped on the gas to feel good power off the line but not quite enough. There was good power but nothing to make it any faster than my old 2005 BMW 330i Sport. I started traveling down some back roads and the car handled the bumps and broken pieces in the road well while going around the twisties easily at 50-60mph speeds. As I started to speed up the car felt less able and more like it was made to drive the highways and not the back roads. The steering however went exactly where I put the wheels and very fast. Unfortunately Cadillac spent so much time making the car turn well and when you wanted it to that they forgot to make the shift times shorter. Again this car is no better than my 330i that I had almost 3 years ago.

This is 2008 Cadillac not 2005. I would rather just go buy an older 3-Series BMW and have more fun than to purchase a new CTS. Sure the car looks bold and is very comfortable, and for every bit of comfort it has it lacks that much in sportiness. It has nothing that the E46 (1999-2005 3-Series) BMW didn’t have years ago. Everything that the Cadillac had I expected better, and all of this for $45,000? Wow! This car is so boring to drive that I have gotten bored talking about it. And to think that Cadillac says that it isn’t a 3-Series competitor but a 5-Series challenger. Maybe that is because they think the 5ers are less sporty. Think again Cadillac. Remember BMW is “The Ultimate Driving Machine” and you are just out of touch with driving. God I hope the CTS-V is as good as I’m hoping.

-Josh

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