DETROIT – We had to keep reminding ourselves that it was a Cadillac we were driving, a 2008 Cadillac CTS to be specific.
The car was quick. It had a firm suspension and it handled with the preciseness of a Teutonic luxury performance sedan. In other words, the Cadillac CTS didn't handle like any other Caddy sedan we've ever driven. It's about time.
If Cadillac wants to fulfill its stated purpose of becoming a global luxury brand, then it's got to match or be better than other global luxury brands. That begins with rear-wheel drive which gets you superior performance. The 2008 Cadillac CTS has it.
However, snow fell during the week we had the car and for a minute we had to drive the CTS gingerly. For those who get the white stuff on an annual basis, the CTS can now be equipped with all-wheel-drive.
We first encountered the CTS when it was launched last year. That test drive was conducted on mostly twisty two lane roads in Northern California. It was fun, the car did really well but it wasn't our world.
Here it was cold, windy, gray and dank. The Cadillac CTS sat outside in frigid weather for a few days (10 degrees at night) yet it started right up. Blustery winds didn't cause it to sway on the road. And the automatic running lights were needed for the gray backdrop that was day here but they could be turned off. It was a much appreciated feature.
The car cornered well. Acceleration from stop lights was great. Getting on expressways was problem free and the CTS maneuvered well it tight traffic.
Interior appointments were great. The front seats were really comfortable and they made us feel like we were sitting in a high-backed leather chair. Although the width narrowed toward the shoulders, there was plenty of back support.
We enjoyed driving the CTS so much so that we neglected getting in the back seat to check it out for comfort, head and leg room, etc. Heck, do that in the showroom. Our only quibble with this car was the silver satin template used to cover the center stack. We don't know what Cadillac calls the stuff but we hate it.
Now don't get it twisted. The stuff sometimes looks like brushed aluminum and plenty of other manufacturers use it but we have no idea why. It looks like plastic, feels like plastic, doesn't convey any sense of quality and it is so shinny that it doesn't give the CTS interior that subdued touch of elegance. We sure do hope Cadillac gets rid of it – soon. No other luxury manufacturer uses the stuff in the abundance we found it in our test car.
Still, the interior of the CTS conveys as sense of luxury which is a testament to the car's stylists. It had amber lighting and a fairly simple set of controls. You'll find no mouse, thank goodness, in the CTS.
Our test car was a base model with two option packages. One included 17-inch aluminum wheels, interior accent lighting and rain sensitive windshield wipers. The other package included leather; power operated heated front seats and heated windshield washer fluid – that got used.
Standard equipment included satellite radio with the first three months free and one year of OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation.
The car felt especially sporty. That's why we were surprised to find that under the hood was the CTS' smallest engine: a 3.6 liter V6 that made 263 horsepower. A 304 horsepower V6 is also available and a high performance 550 horsepower version of the CTS will join the lineup later this year. Our test car was equipped with a six speed automatic transmission but a six speed manual gearbox is also available.
But the most surprising feature of the CTS was its price: $38,630 as tested. With a base price of $32,245 all we can say is the Cadillac CTS is a lot of car for the bucks.