Better say this right up front, with the possible exception of the new Chevy Malibu, Cadillac’s second-generation CTS may well be the most improved new car of the 2008 model year. To be sure, it’s the most impressive vehicle to carry the Cadillac badge since the stunning 1967 front-wheel-drive Eldorado.
This car is so impressive it’s tough to recall how Cadillac got into the performance luxury sedan business to begin with. Like so many stories regarding General Motors as of late, this one has a significant overseas component. Almost five years after the astonishingly moronic proclamation of a now (fortunately) retired Cadillac chief engineer that, “Cadillac will be a front-drive car company,” the Catera debuted.
Little more than an Opel Omega with cosmetic revisions limited to a revised grille and rear decklid garnish with the requisite chassis retune and FMVSS compliance changes, the Catera was an expedient way to provide U.S. Cadillac dealers with a car the division hoped would help retain customers who had been leaving the nameplate for BMW and Lexus entries. Initially offered with a peculiar 56° vee 200HP 3.0L 24-valve DOHC six-cylinder engine mated to a 4-speed automatic, the Catera was the unfortunate recipient of what was barely a mid-pack powerplant. And the sometimes finicky V6 aside, while no 3-Series, the Catera was a decent car clothed in a decidedly innocuous wrapper. But if there’s one thing a Caddy should never be, it’s innocuous. Not surprisingly, the Catera incurred the wrath of many journalists and self-proclaimed “analysts” from the get-go. One such insightful wag decreed the Catera spelled the “end of Cadillac” because it was not offered with a V8 engine. Yeah hum.