22 June 2007
The Hype Around The 2008 Cadillac CTS Is Premature
The automotive equivalent of Jesus Christ is coming to Cadillac next year. Or that's what assorted fanboys of the GM persuasion would have you believe. A better interior, a sleeker exterior package, and upgraded engines are all cited as being reasons for this optimism. But dig deeper and what do we find?
1. Excessive Mass
The CTS will weigh 3861 pounds in manual transmission form, 3872 pounds in automatic transmission form, and a whopping 4101 pounds in all wheel drive configurations, according to THIS GM press release. That's hefty. For the sake of comparison, a BMW 335xi tops out at 3825 pounds, an Infiniti G35x tops out at 3703 pounds, an Audi A4 3.2 Quattro tops out at 3780 pounds, and a Lexus IS350 tops out at 3527 pounds. All of the competition noted, except for the Lexus have AWD in those weights listed. Note that ALL of the AWD competition actually weighs LESS than a regular old 2WD 2008 CTS. Ladies and gentlemen, the next gen CTS is a porker. How this will translate into a 'sports sedan' is yet to be seen, but for the sake of argument, the A4 is often derided as being too heavy. So what are we to expect of a 4100 pound CTS?
2.Barely Enough Power
If the 2008 CTS was released as a 2006 model, I would have no complaints. It features two engines- the much loved regular 3.6 HF V6 from the GM family, and a brand new 3.6 HF DI V6 making a confirmed 304 horsepower. Yes, the torque curve is very flat. Yes, it's competitive. But note my point- if it came out in 2006, it would be more than enough. As it stands, a yet to be released 2008 CTS already trails the Lexus IS350, the Infiniti G35, and the BMW 335i (300/300) in power stats. Incredible. If you want a perfect example of GM failing to take into account the competition and benchmarking moving targets, this is it. Yes, the base engine is more powerful than most others in the class. No, that doesn't mean shit, since most advertising centers around the top end engine outputs. Not to mention that in a few months, Infiniti will be dropping a 3.7 VQ into their G coupe (which will no doubt make its way to the sedan). Combine barely competitive power with excessive weight, and the prognosis doesn't look good.
3. Dull Styling
Yeah yeah, styling is subjective. But honestly, apart from the front fascia, how much major change has been made to this vehicle? A similar argument can be made for the redesign of the G35- it looks a lot like its predecessor, but then again, the G35 isn't the next stage of a 'design revolution' for Infiniti, like the CTS is for Cadillac. Yes, it's a bold grille. Yes, the side vents are cute, if a bit played out. But beyond that, I could be looking at a current generation STS. Just a big let down in a field where Cadillac could have really made a splash.
4. Missing Features
I'm not like some others that will bemoan the lack of push button start and the lack of Bluetooth as reasons why someone wouldn't buy a CTS- but the question remains- why the hell is GM so against upgrading their products to at least the minimum of the market standards? If even one sale is lost because someone wants Bluetooth and/or push button start in their vehicle, that's one sale too many, and a sale that GM could have easily kept. Instead, their reliance on OnStar has become a boon and a burden to the company- they're afraid to poach OnStar customers with Bluetooth capability, but will never move forward technologically unless they do so.
At the end of the day, the biggest issue that the new CTS will encounter is how to overcome its weight and power issues. The new interior will no doubt boost lagging sales, but if the goal of Cadillac is to once again become the standard of the world, they'll have to do much better than this- because 'this' is competitive with vehicles of today, never mind vehicles that will be released and available in 2008.