It's been a long time since Cadillac could justify its claim to be the "standard of the world," arguably since the days when the old Eldorado had bigger fins than a fighter jet. But if Caddy's all-new CTS Coupe is any indication, General Motors' flagship brand is, at the very least, repositioning itself as one of the luxury market's styling benchmarks.
When it was first unveiled at the January 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the angular Coupe gave reason to believe that the $50 billion GM bailout wasn't entirely for naught. That viewpoint was reinforced when the first of the two-doors rolled into showrooms late last year. Sized between the 3- and 5-Series BMWs, the Coupe does share its front end with Caddy's second-generation CTS sedan, but it's almost all new from the lower, more steeply raked rear windshield. Two of the more intriguing details on the CTS Coupe are hidden: electrically operated door handles and the center-mounted twin exhaust pipes. While it might have been inspired by the F22 Raptor, the CTS Coupe is no stealth fighter. Riding high on its haunches, it's designed to draw your attention.
As with so many new products, mainstream or high-end, Cadillac has downsized the Coupe's base engine. But it's 3.6-liter V6 still delivers 304 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Of course, if you want to match the pulse-pounding visuals with an equally neck-snapping power train there is the CTS-V Coupe to consider. Its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 is intended to strike fear into the hearts of mere mortals, and even some of the most impressive supercars on the market mightn't line up alongside you at the stoplight. With 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque, you'll hit 60 in a flat four seconds. About the only complaint? The five-speed automatic just doesn't match the gearboxes offered by the imports.
But the CTS-V Coupe is more than just a high-style muscle car. It's got the sophisticated Magnetic Ride Control suspension shared with such ultra-premiums as Ferrari, along with a wider rear track than the CTS sedan to handle its power. And its positively massive brakes will also quickly scrub off that speed.
The Coupe is the third discrete body style to share the CTS platform and is visually the most distinctive. It does sacrifice rear-passenger and cargo space. For those who need a bit more room, the CTS Wagon may be the Cadillac brand's real sleeper. It's spacious and unexpectedly sporty, whichever engine package you opt for.
As we started out to say, it's been a long time since Cadillac was the hoop the competition had to jump through. But if the CTS Coupe-and the rest of the CTS lineup-is any indication, GM's high-line division really shouldn't be ignored.