So it’s fair to say Cadillac is throwing itself in at the deep end, but at least it is doing it boldly.
Unfortunately for British drivers, this means big, thirsty petrol engines and no diesel, and it is a flaw in the range that will only ever give the car niche appeal for those who desperately want to travel about at just over 20mpg.
As you’d expect, there’s no lack of performance from the 3.6-litre 257bhp engine, and it makes a fantastically macho noise under acceleration.
However, you need to have the car pointing in a straight line before applying the power because it will overwhelm rear tyre grip, stepping the back out long before anything happens at the big steering wheel, or the traction control kicks in.
This doesn’t feel like a car designed to be pushed. Apparently, engineers spent time at the Nurburgring honing the suspension for more demanding European tastes, but this has resulted in an extremely firmly-damped car that is niggly over rough surfaces, and which then rolls through corners.
I’ve had a look at the upcoming smaller BLS, based on the Vectra platform, and the interior is very European in its styling and build.
The same cannot be said of the CTS which is, frankly, well below the standard of a £30,000 car. Pieces of trim, such as that around the climate control unit, were falling off, while the bits which were hanging on were made of materials volume manufacturers would be embarrassed to put on a family hatchback.
I also found the seats uncomfortable, with a lack of lumbar support, although at least they were made of some good, soft leather, while the driving position for taller people leaves you with your knees pushed against a shelf under the steering column.
Ergonomically, things are not much better on the dash. The big gawky dial on the steering wheel that controls the volume is easily knocked, while the infotainment system needs you to peer at the vast amount of information on the screen while driving to work out what to do. Then you have to make it happen, and in a week, I never got the radio to tune properly to the strongest signal, RDS on or not.
It’s a shame really, because from the outside the CTS promises a lot. The styling is bold and demands attention, although the 17-inch wheels, for which there is no larger option, look overwhelmed by the big, slabby body.
And as you’d expect, the CTS is packed to the roof with the sort of equipment some premium marques wouldn’t give away free for charity.
Self-levelling rear suspension, leather as standard, the colour screen infotainment with satellite navigation, Bose sound system and electric front seats are all standard.
But the CTS needs to come with as much kit as possible. It is up against some extremely strong rivals, and it doesn’t feel anywhere near as resolved as them. Cadillac will need the much more promising BLS before it can make any impact on choice lists.
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £29,647
CO2 emissions (g/km): 275
BIK % of P11D in 2005: 35%
Graduated VED rate: £160
Insurance group: 16
Combined mpg: 24.4
CAP Monitor residual value: £8,775/30%
Depreciation (34.78 pence per mile x 60,000): £20,868
Maintenance (5.00 pence per mile x 60,000): £3,000
Fuel (17.04 pence per mile x 60,000): £10,224
Wholelife cost (56.82 pence per mile x 60,000): £34,092
Typical contract hire rate N/A
Rental quote from HSBC Vehicle Finance
At a glance
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THREE RIVALS TO CONSIDER
IF your drivers are after value for money and cars packed with equipment, then the two cheapest here are the ones to go for. The Cadillac is easily the best specified with sat-nav and leather, but oddly for this size of car, parking sensors are not available. No surprise there, but what is surprising is how much better specced the BMW is over the Audi: 17-inch wheels, colour iDrive screen, cruise control, metallic paint and part-electric seats are all better than the offering in the A6.
WITH only five dealerships nationwide, service, maintenance and repair for the Cadillac is not going to be an easy undertaking, but the firm is doing everything it can to help ease the process, including collecting and returning cars for drivers. It still ends up being the most expensive, though. Smaller tyres sitting on 16-inch rims ensure the Audi is the cheapest, and at 3.50ppm it would cost £2,250 in garage bills over three years and 60,000 miles.
IT would not take a rocket scientist to work out that the big 3.6-litre V6 engine in the Cadillac is the thirstiest and most expensive of all the cars assembled here. At a claimed 24.4 miles per gallon on the combined cycle, that equates to an eye-watering fuel cost of more than £10,000 over 60,000 miles. The best of the bunch is the BMW 530i, costing just over £8,000. It’s plain to see why high mileage business drivers nearly always prefer diesel-engined models instead, which are closer to the 11 pence per mile mark.
CAP is predicting strong residuals for the Lexus of around 40% after three years/60,000 miles which, allied to a low price, means an excellent pence per mile depreciation figure – for the sector anyway. In percentage terms, the BMW follows very closely, but in actual cash lost, its high price results in the second highest depreciation figure. The Cadillac, despite its small predicted sales volumes of a few hundred models is predicted to lose 70% of its value.
THE Cadillac really struggles in this company. Hefty thirst, poor residuals and a costly SMR rate put it in last place. It would cost £34,000 to run over 60,000 miles. The Lexus is in a surprise first place. Usually the 5-series wins these comparisons, but the GS has excellent residuals, and decent costs elsewhere. It would cost nearly £5,000 less than the Cadillac to run, and £2,000 less than the second-placed BMW.
EMISSIONS AND BIK TAX RATES
BEING paid well is a must when running these cars, because in benefit-in-kind tax terms, an employee will be paying upwards of £4,000 a year in company car tax. A 40% taxpayer will pay most for the A6, at £4,391 for the 2005/06 tax year, while the Lexus would be the cheapest at £3,983. The Cadillac has the highest emissions, but a lowish front-end price keeps tax down to a competitive level at £4,150. The BMW will cost the same driver £4,202 per year.
THE CTS just cannot compete in this sector on costs, quality or brand image, and Cadillac’s annual volume aspirations of 450 suggest it knows this. Roll on the cheaper, smaller – and diesel-powered – BLS. If your drivers must have a petrol model at this price, the Lexus GS is hard to beat. It has good a strong residual value, is more generously equipped and has a premium badge on its bonnet.