Latest Industry News

Cadillac CTS in England – Not the Ugly American

For the past few days, I have been driving a Cadillac CTS around England. This evaluation is special because the CTS is the winner of AutoPacific’s 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Entry Luxury Cars in the USA.
The evaluation started at Heathrow Airport, driving to the outskirts of London and then North to the East Midlands. This drive isn’t as unique as that of former-colleague Rex Parker’s when his father shipped the family 1964 Lincoln Continental convertible to the UK for an extensive driving vacation in the ’60s, but the reaction to American iron is interesting and instructive.

Cadillac CTS at Newstead Abbey – Lord Byron’s Family Home

CTS SV Calke Abbey Blog.jpg

Cadillac CTS at Calke Abbey – Stately Home in Decline

CTS – D-Segment Luxury Entry in Europe

The CTS is an Entry Luxury Car in the USA, but is relatively large for the English driving environment. It dwarfs smaller Renault Clios, Ford Focus C-Max, smarts, Vauxhall Tigras, Ford Kas and the myriad of B and C-Class transportation available in Europe but not in the USA.

The CTS sold in the UK is built in Belgium and has right hand drive. While the CTS may be a bit large for the local car park of B and C-Class cars, there are fair number of BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class, Volvo S60, Audi A6, Peugeot 407, Renault Laguna and even the remaining Rover 75s and MG ZT saloons to compete with. With few CTS saloons sold in England, the car turns heads usually in the slow motion maneuvering through city centres. Young guys crane their heads to see what the Cadillac is.

Right Hand Drive Conversion is Relatively Seamless

That General Motors has opted to convert the CTS to right hand drive for the market in the United Kingdom is testament to the change in American thinking. Remember, in the late ’80s and early ’90s American car companies contended that their left hand drive cars should sell well in right hand drive countries like Japan, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Wrong. While some left hand drive BMWs were coveted in Britain, the reluctance of American companies to invest in right hand drive vehicles guaranteed they would not sell in right hand drive countries.

CTS RHD Blog.jpg

CTS Right Hand Drive Setup Seamless

The CTS right hand drive does point out some unique challenges. The speedometer is calibrated for 260 MPH (!!!). It appears that GM has opted to use its metric speedometer graphics and convert is to miles per hour. The CTS certainly cannot approach anywhere near 260 MPH… 130 MPH may be more like it. The transmission tunnel intrudes substantially into the driver’s footwell. Remember, this is the passenger’s footwell in the American version. Also, depending on seat position and driving position preferences, the door trim panel interferes with driver’s knee placement. After a couple of hours of driving, painful.

CTS Dynamics and Performance Competitive

The CTS handles quite well on English A and B-Roads. Handling is crisp. Ride is firm. Goes where you want it to go. In a country where people park IN THE ROAD and take up 2/3 of any available lane making a two lane road a 1 1/3 lane road, ducking ability is very important. CTS does very well.

The 3.6L V6 in the evaluation CTS provides adequate performance, but in the few instances when you need max output it seems to struggle a bit. Sounds gaspy, quite unlike the throaty rumble we have experienced recently in GM’s V8 engines.

Navigation System a Savior in Britain

The Cadillac CTS included the optional Navigation System. It allows a setting that avoids highways, i.e. Britain’s Motorways and limits driving to “shortest” or “fastest” A an B Roads. This gets you off the high speed congested Motorways and onto the much narrower, but more idyllic English roads. Ah, yes. The straight ones are Roman roads and the windy ones are English roads.

We compared the Cadillac NAV system with the Garmin NUVI 360 Navigation System with the European chip. The Cadillac system won hands down when it kept to small roads and the Garmin kept trying to get you on major Motorways whenever the opportunity came up.

CTS Lineup Blog.jpg

More to come.

1 Comment

  • Daniel Hall| September 5, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    Interesting to see that the CTS NAV system excelled. Did either system warn of “traffic calming”?

Back to top