It is not uncommon for the boys at my daughter’s high school to gather around when I show up in an interesting new ride each week. Usually, the girls barely notice the cars and you can almost taste the disdain when the boys’ attention is diverted away from them. With the pearl white 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe, there was a different response. There were girls screaming out to each other to check out the cool car. I felt like I was one of The Beatles. Ok, not really, but you get the idea.
For those of you who were around to experience the Caddy’s of the Seventies and Eighties: Did you ever think you would see teenage girls screaming with glee at the sight of a Cadillac? Maybe a scream while they ran away!
Over the past decade or so, the folks at Cadillac have been hard at work revising the brand and positioning their product in front of a different demographic. The popular CTS sedan was key to bringing more youthful buyers into showrooms, while the Hip Hop crowd took a shining (quite literally) to the Escalade. The interesting thing is that while high school age dreamers want a Cadillac, the oldsters are still digging the Caddy brand. Talk about a broad market!
The CTS sedan appealed to 30 and 40 something drivers that might have otherwise been shopping for the likes of a BMW 3 Series. Cadillac realized that if they were going to continue to work those owners, they had to expand the product line in a similar fashion. That first sedan led to the brutally fast CTS-V, a Corvette powered beast that was aimed squarely at the Bavarian M3. Like the 3 series, they added a wagon. Unlike the 3 series, Cadillac then added a V wagon for those who want to get the kids to the rink early. To round out the line up, Cadillac has added the 2011 CTS Coupe, available in both 6 cylinder and 8 cylinder variants.
Our tester was a CTS Coupe with the optional 6 speed manual transmission and luxury package that included a tilt sunroof, real wood trim, interior led accent lighting and rear view camera. With a base price of $47,450 CDN, the optional luxury & sport equipment bumped the sticker to $57,125. When the 6 speed manual transmission is chosen, the standard 18″ alloy wheels are ditched in favor of 19″ polished aluminum wheels with high performance summer tires. This combination looks absolutely fantastic with the White Diamond Tricoat finish on our tester.
Often, when a manufacturer offers a true performance option like the V variant of the CTS, the entry level model suffers from rather lack luster performance. The CTS Coupe does not follow that model in any way. The 3.6 liter V6 produces a very healthy 304 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Arguably the best part of this engine is that it is tuned to run on regular unleaded! Maybe not a big deal in the States, but here in Ontario where premium is currently selling for close to $1.30 a liter. As a true sports car, the CTS directs all that power to the rear wheels, where it belongs, where it hits the road through a limited slip differential.
Sadly, the only weak spot we noticed with the CTS was in the drivetrain. The hydraulic clutch has a very strange feel that is difficult to get used to, so much so that I stalled the car 3 times on my first day with it. Also, the 6 speed manual shifter is quite heavy, almost to the point of being clunky. Once one gets used to the clutch though, the CTS Coupe is an absolute dream to drive on the road. Quiet and reserved during gentle daily driving, the Coupe becomes a beast when driven in a more sporting manner. Remembering that it wasn’t so long ago that muscle cars had 50 horsepower less than this engine, the 6 cylinder Coupe is plenty quick. The stability control system is nicely tuned to allow a bit of rear end slip angle before it reigns in the loose nut behind the wheel, ensuring the driver has fun, but not too much fun. For lapping days, the system can be disabled.
The interior has a handsome, masculine look and feel, with textured leather with heavy stitching, real wood and aluminum trim. Both front seats are supportive enough for spirited driving, yet comfy enough that they would work nicely for a long drive. The rear seat holds 2 passengers, in relative comfort and have a sexy looking center console storage area that matches the trim up front. The trunk is a reasonable size, easily swallowing 2 hockey bags or a couple of sets of golf clubs. As one might expect at this level, the CTS Coupe is well optioned in the tech toys department, having Navi, Bluetooth and Bose surround sound with a 40 GB hard drive for media storage. The interior and exterior door handles with no handle are just beyond cool!
Here is the part where I step on some toes at GM. The CTS Coupe is the car the Camaro should have been! The CTS is easy to get in and out of. Back seat passengers can actually have legs. The trunk has an opening that is actually big enough to make the space usable. On the road, one can actually see out of the CTS Coupe in pretty much every direction. The rear view camera is nice, but is not needed. Interior materials quality in the CTS is a world apart from the pony car. Obviously the look and intent behind the two cars is drastically different, yet the target markets are more similar than one might think by looking at the cars.
One more thing: While the guys all stopped to look at the Camaro, the CTS Coupe made the girls squeal!