2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe – Flash and Dash

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We met up with the Cadillac CTS Coupe crew at Dogpatch Studios in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco.  Grabbed a CTS Wagon and headed to the Carneros Inn in Napa Valley where we tag teamed with a CTS Coupe that was the feature of this drive evaluation. Cadillac lodged the media at the Bardessono
Hotel in Yountville.  Environmentally pure, the Bardessono is an
experience in itself.  

The CTS Coupe is the third of the three bodystyles Cadillac plans for
the CTS.  The first was the sedan introduced in 2008 followed by the
European-inspired wagon in 2009 and now the Coupe in 2010.

Cadillac_CTS_Coupe_2011_R34.jpgCadillac_CTS_Coupe_2011_SV.jpgCadillac_CTS_Coupe_2011_F34.jpgDon Butler, Vice President of Cadillac Marketing took the gathered press through where Cadillac is and where Cadillac plans to be in the future.  Bold, product-oriented positioning will have Cadillac going head-to-head against Audi, BMW and Mercedes.  Lexus was added as an afterthought. 

Cadillac had set up a flurry of identical specification CTS Coupes for this group of journalists and analysts to drive through the hills surrounding Napa Valley.  Some of the most picturesque and challenging roads in the country put the CTS Coupes to the test.

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Dedication to Concept Yields Compromised Car  The Coupe is loyal to the Coupe concept shown at auto shows a few years back.  It has a roof that is 2-inches lower than the sedan.  The windshield is 2-degrees faster.  The frameless doors are actuated by switches rather than a handle.  The backlite is extremely fast resulting in a truncated decklid that ends in a protruding CHMSL.  The trapezoidal chrome exhaust tips are center mounted and flow through the rear fascia.  The only sheetmetal carried-over from the sedan is in front of the A-Pillar.  Even the A-Pillar is unique due to the faster windshield.  While laudable, this devotion to the design intent of the show car was expensive to execute and resulted in a somewhat compromised car. 

I am the first one to admit that I am first and foremost a four-door guy, so coupes aren’t my thing.  But that’s OK, I can still appreciate them.  The CTS Coupe is victim to its styling like all coupes are.  They are tougher to get into and out of.  They are tougher to see out of.  They have tiny rear seats and no rear seat headroom.  It seems like coupe designers all assume that the top of a person’s head has been lopped off.  But these are sacrifices people are willing to make for style.

High Style Fashion Statement May be Short Lived  Since a high style coupe like the CTS Coupe is really a fashion statement the manufacturer has to be aware that it will have a relatively short life where it is really popular.  This usually lasts 18-months but rarely more than 24-months.

Interior Competitive with Best Germans and Japanese  The interior of the Coupe is very nicely finished.  Benefiting from the upgrades to the CTS interior the CTS Coupe is very competitive with German and Japanese luxury sport coupes.  It does not have to apologize to the Audi A5, BMW 3-Series Coupe (much smaller) or the Mercedes E-Class Coupe.  The improved material selection compared with the first generation CTS is dramatic.

Cadillac_CTS_Coupe_Front_Seat.jpg Ergonomically, the instrument panel is excellent.  Features are easy to understand and use.  Gauges are easy to read.  The navigation screen that floats up from the instrument panel is relatively large and easy to read.  Overall, very nicely done.

Cadillac_CTS_Coupe_2011_Cockpit.jpg Bose Audio System Among the Best  Heidi Grissom, Senior Marketing Programs Manager for Bose Corporation provided demonstrations of the Bose audio in the CTS Coupe.  While I am seldom allowed to crank up the audio past “3” or “4”, Heidi’s demonstration showed how powerful and clear a topnotch audio system can be in a car.  Standard in the CTS line, AutoPacific research shows more and more buyers are demanding high quality audio systems with known brand names.  Cadillac understands.

Be Sure and Get the Right Suspension  Each Coupe was equipped with the 3.6L Gasoline Direct Injection V6
having 304-horsepower for output.  The engine was great.  In fact the
entire car was great for those who really like coupes except… each car
had the FE3 suspension set-up.  Probably for these roads, the FE3 was
ideal if you were a really aggressive driver.  This firm suspension was
bone jarring.  Totally capable with summer tires, it was harsh and
uncomfortable.  It probably let the drivers who really wanted to try and
go fast get an extra couple of tenths out of the car, but for a typical
driver something a bit tamer would be appropriate.  For 2011 Cadillac is adding an FE5 suspension setup which adds unique suspension calibrations with nineteen inch wheels and all weather tires.  This may be the optimum set up for the car.

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