2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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Ever since first laying eyes upon the concept version of the Cadillac CTS Coupe that made its debut at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, I've been in love with its graceful and elegant execution of design excellence, where Cadillac's "Art and Science" philosophy merge harmoniously. It is "emotion on four wheels and the very essence of what defines Cadillac today," according to Ed Welburn, vice-president of General Motors Global Design.

The 2011 production version of the CTS Coupe represents a rarity in today's automotive world – it is nearly an exact reproduction of the original clay design concept and it is unquestionably the most dramatic styling exercise in Cadillac's current design portfolio. It reflects a spirit of audacity – unafraid to step boldly into uncharted territory.

The interior of the CTS Coupe is done in a classic 2+2 layout, surrounded by complex styling elements that complement the traditional two-door hardtop form, with no conventional "B" pillar. At first glance, the overall shape is relatively simple, but upon closer examination, the shape is amplified with intricately carved details.

The sculpted hood develops a flat, graduated plane that progresses into the "A" pillar and continues along the roofline's edge into the rear deck and into the vertical jewel-like taillamps. A definitive centerline runs the entire length of the car, where a molded dual centre exhaust outlet serves as a bold finisher. A rear spoiler with an integrated LED brakelight serves functionally to add downforce at speed.

Power for the 2011 CTS Coupe extends Cadillac's emerging performance credentials, and is provided by not a V8 my friends, but a potent 3.6-litre, 24-valve V6 that makes 304 horsepower at 6,400 rpm along with 273 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. The transmission is a Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic with wheel-mounted button or shift stalk manual selectivity. The engine is positioned longitudinally up front and drives the rear wheels. The chassis features a limited slip differential, with All-Wheel Drive (AWD), optionally available.

There are two suspension tuning levels available: standard are 18-inch wheels and all-season tires (available in both RWD and AWD), while a Sport Package can be had on the rear-drive model with 19-inch summer-only tires and other suspension tweaks for a higher level of road holding capability. StabiliTrak, GM's advanced electronic control system, is standard. The chassis delivers sports car performance without a punishing ride quality. The hardware includes an independent short/long arm front suspension with hydraulic control arm bushings, and a multi-link rear suspension that mounts to a fully isolated subframe. Also included are four-wheel disc performance brakes and a premium steering feel.

Inside the cabin, the CTS Coupe blends old-world, handcrafted luxury, featuring a driver-focused layout supporting the car's high-performance attributes. The interior comes with hand-sewn accents covering the dash, doors, centre console and instrument panel. Recaro sport seats, formerly only available on the CTS-V, are optional on all CTS Coupe models. There are a host advanced technologies and features in the CTS, including integrated iPod/MP3 capability; a 40-gig hard drive, including the ability to store music and pause-and-replay live radio; a pop-up navigation system;  adaptive forward lighting system; Bluetooth connectivity; standard Keyless Access and Smart Remote Start; a rear camera system; and a Bose 5.1 audio system. As with other Cadillac models, the CTS Coupe comes standard with OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation; the first factory-installed, fully integrated GPS navigation system from OnStar. Doors feature electronic touch pads to unlock the car and exit.

The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe starts at $47,450 for the rear-wheel drive model, while the all-wheel drive model starts at $50,080. The exterior of my test model sported a Radiant Silver metallic finish with the interior executed in Black with polished wood trim accents. The inventory of standard  and optional features and equipment makes for a most impressive list, but is far too lengthy for this review.

The CTS Coupe is a fabulous driving machine, capable of competing with brands that are considerably more expensive. The 3.6-litre V6 delivers power and acceleration on par with many V8 engines in its class, while doing so in a more fuel-efficient manner, and with a pleasing exhaust note.

The standard sport seats are quite firm and would benefit from a thigh extension for taller drivers. They are not uncomfortable, however, and are very supportive during extremely spirited maneuvering. The ride quality itself is compliant, yet rigid without being harsh, contributing to the car's stability. The car stays remarkably flat through tight, twisting turns, even with elevation changes.

The steering is precise and responsive, with a satisfying on-centre feedback. The Sport Package is a definite plus with its lightweight 19-inch forged alloy wheels shod with ZR-rated tires.

The six-speed automatic's driver shift controls are operable in either the Sport or Automatic mode – a big plus, and they respond with little hesitation.

In the final analysis, the Cadillac CTS Coupe, in addition to being drop dead gorgeous, is a clear winner on all fronts. If you simply must have more power, and want to spend considerably more money, the 2011 CTS-V Coupe will follow later this year with 556 horsepower, and an even more aggressive look.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Cadillac, 2010, CTS Coupe, $40,000 - $49,999, $50,000 - $74,999,

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