2014 Cadillac CTS, the new Kaiser of the hill: Motoramic Drives
In the American automobile marketplace, as in life, sometimes one advances simply by staying the course and not cocking things up. Consider Audi, which has seen ascendancy in the sporting luxury car segment by remaining steadfast to its staid yet well-rendered minimalist design identity, and consciously not following the path of its German cohorts at Mercedes and BMW as they’ve turned their backs on decades of sober and/or adrenalized formality and scurried down the rabbit-hole of the baroque, the blobbed, the bootied, and the be-flanged.
An alternate path to vehicular (and personal) glory is to create an identity that is distinctive and original and reflective of an honest emotional proposition, and then continue to refine and improve upon it incrementally over time. Within the specific category of high-end sports sedans, performance, technology, and materials obviously have to keep pace as well, or you end up with something like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. And it helps if you’re also the linchpin of a resurgent domestic icon, because we Americans love nothing more than an underdog — except an underdog that wins.
Starting in 2002, the CTS has taken a sharp-edged, audacious, potent, and distinctly American approach to the sports sedan, and has, over a remarkably short period of time, been integral to the wholesale resurrection of Cadillac. Without that first CTS, there would be no ATS — the marque’s new, smaller four-door — which competes directly and effectively with the benchmark entry-level sports sedans like the BMW 3 Series, and has brought tens of thousands of new, younger buyers into the brand’s chromed wheelhouse. And without it, there would be no third-generation CTS, which, after a daylong drive through central coastal California, has solidly earned the title of our favorite mid-sized sports sedan.
Having gained its aforementioned little brother, and a concomitant stretch of its own, the new CTS is now sized correctly in the category. As such, it’s no longer forced to pull double-duty, simultaneously fending off the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class, the Audi A4 and A6, and the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series. Surprisingly, it has taken advantage of this adolescent growth spurt to lose weight, shedding 7 percent of its body fat and weighing 200 lbs. less than a BMW 528i. In the process, it’s also attracted a bounty of exotic alloys into its frame and components, crafted a near perfect 50/50 weight distribution (in 2.0-liter trim), and adopted a pair of new forced induction engines on either side of its carryover V-6, which now makes 321 hp and 275 lb.-ft. of torque.