The Latest From The Cadillac Stable, Lighter On The Roads

The formula for building fast cars shifted its focus from the power and displacement part of the equation a long time ago. And, for quite some time now, the designers and engineers are working hand in hand diligently towards the balancing part of this equation – the weight. Over the years, this successful upgrade on the formula has been applied not to just sports cars and supercars, but to passenger cars like sedans and hatches too.

As is evident in the brand new 2014 Cadillac CTS – the 420 horsepower, twin turbo CTS v-sport has a beast of an engine mated to a “neutral” chassis that’s been set and pulled very tightly indeed. With this car, General Motors may have finally found the ultimate solution to their oldest, most common and persistent drawback of an issue – weight reduction.

Weight reduction in grams

The entire CTS project was developed using grams as the unit of measurement and any ideas presented on weight cutting had to be addressed in grams, and that is how quantum GM had to go. The Cadillac CTS V-sport with the optional sunroof, that was tested on GM’s very own handling track, weighs less than 1,800,000 “grams” – not exactly an example of being on the lighter side of the weighing scale but still more than 2,00,000 grams lighter than its competitor – the BMW 550i which weighs over 2000kgs approximately.

Cadillac has been one of the oldest premium car brands of America and have a history of producing some of the most iconic cars that the world has seen. The very badge of Cadillac gives off an aura of richness, exclusivity and premium luxury, and with all the given factors and Cadillac’s reputation as a premium car manufacturer, one would say they’re just about in time to deliver their next upgrade on their long running and popular sedan – the CTS.

Let’s understand how Caddy pulled off the extra pounds off their flagship model. Replacing steel with aluminum or magnesium would be the first obvious but quite expensive solution. The CTS comes with aluminum doors, front sub-frame, bumper beams, shock towers, hood and front suspension arms. Magnesium engine mounts that would feel like cardboard save about a kilogram over the previously employed aluminum mounts.

The B-pillar, earlier made from eight separate steel stampings, now has a single steel blank, implying that the steel coil is now built with varying gauges allowing it to be thick where it is required to be and thin where its not. This reduced a further 1800 grams. An extra 3000 grams of material was removed from between the spot welds by trimming the stamping flanges in a saw-toothed pattern.

Well-tuned chassis

The sudden stop distance of 149 feet and the less than a gram skidpad trace are at par with several popular sports cars, and they are telltales of a well-tuned chassis with suppressed pitch-and-roll, which exploits the rich Pirelli P-zero run flat tires. These go on to the CTS’s 18-inch rims, that are the biggest available from the factory.

The CTS v-sport is quite comfortable even on GM’s handling loop, which in the least to say, is quite a mouthful even for an experienced test driver. It also sports an electronically controlled limited slip differential, borrowed from the Corvette – a standard on the Vsport version.

The electronic steering isolates shocks from almost all varieties of bumps keeping the grip in the driver’s hands smooth and uninterrupted, and is also tuned to provide for the natural driving effort feel on tough corners. Magnetorheological shock absorbers help keep the body level and the cabin almost completely – bounce free.

The 3.6 litre engine joins hands with two Mitsubishi turbochargers, that have two air-to-liquid intercoolers and a single large throttle body. An eight speed transmission offers four shift modes – tour, sport, track and ice. Tour is a relaxed eco-setting mode, sport slightly on the aggressive locks the transmission in lower gears for a bit too long and the engine sound becomes quite audible, otherwise and through the stereo system as well.

Yet to enter India

The interior is more European what with the simple forms and slightly rich material finish. An added four inches in the overall length, are quite evidently felt in the amount of leg space the interiors have to offer. A virtual gauge cluster, a thin film transistor screen with four driver selectable gauge layouts and the high resolution centre console all scream “Cadillac”.

One can say that Cadillac has somewhat “reclaimed” the world class tag with the new CTS, that has successfully completed its ascendance and is now truly competitive with the likes of the BMW 5 series, Jaguar XF, Audi A6 and the Mercedes Benz E-class. At the very least, the CTS stands out better than its last generation, and even better than the 2013 North American Car of the Year – the Cadillac ATS.

Sadly, although the competitors of the Cadillac are all being driven around for quite some time in our country, one cannot say the same for sure, about the CTS, since there have been no indications at least for the next few years, of Cadillac bringing its fleet to India.