Cadillac is onto something with this whole CTS thing.
It may not be the flagship of General Motors Co.'s luxury brand, but it's certainly the muse.
Now there's a two-door version of the CTS, which arrived this summer: the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe. It's the sweetest looking car ever to wear the crest and wreath, period.
There's just something about it that looks futuristic and crisp. With its high sides and gun-slit windows that pinch up to the sloping roof, the exterior looks like an alien spacecraft invading Earth. The steep windshield might cut anyone who ventures too close.
The front end is more than aggressive, it's down right mean. Every time I drove up behind another car at a stop light, I half expected the driver in front of me to get out and hand over his lunch money. Call it intimidation through design.
The creases and angles ripple around the body in a mathematical perfection creating a geometry equation in which the answer is "yes." The tall headlights, massive shiny grille and slab-sided rear quarter panels extend the car's good looks.
The pieces move like a cubism painting. The CTS coupe is asymmetrical motion — it's what Picasso would drive.
Every detail screams attitude — and not that girly squeamish attitude so many cars possess to make the driver feel good about himself. The CTS Coupe confidently says, "Shut up and drive."
And that's exactly what you want to do in this Cadillac: Drive its wheels off.
Get up and go
The 3.6-liter direct injection V-6 with variable valve timing provides 304 horsepower for quick and clean acceleration. It gets up and goes fast. If you really want more power, there is a CTS-V Coupe with 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 cranking out 556 horsepower. That car will scare even the sanest drivers with its stomach-churning acceleration, which tends to push passengers to white-knuckle the door handle as never-before-heard words fall out of their mouths.
What they're trying to say is that for most people, the V-6 provides more than enough power.
Both versions handle extremely well. Coupes are like that, as they don't have a second set of doors behind the driver that let the body to do the hokey pokey through hard corners. The car is extremely stiff, and the independent suspension keeps it flat through hard turns.
The longer you drive this car, the more you begin to appreciate its abilities and handling. Soon you'll start to find yourself looking forward to that big exit ramp on the way home from work because you'll try to go a little faster.
The CTS Coupe comes in both all-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive models, but the suspension setup is not the same in both. For some reason, Cadillac has softened up the ride on the all-wheel-drive models, tuning the suspension differently and stripping some of the fun out of this car. I would suggest saving a few bucks and get the rear-wheel-drive model and spend your money on the 19-inch summer performance tires.
A sporty ride
The ride is more sporty and the handling superior, especially when properly flogging the CTS Coupe through curvy roads and open highways. Sticky wheels are just more fun. Additionally, when winter arrives, you can swap out the tires for performance winter tires and then blow past all of those 4x4s we so often see in ditches after the first snowfall.
The variable assist rack-and-pinion steering feels extremely well-balanced and nicely weighted in the CTS Coupe. This is essential in a sports car because the wheel connects the driver to the road. You need to feel it. Experience and numb steering means you're only steering. In the CTS Coupe, you're driving.
Additionally, the six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters lets you control the quick shifts if you want. For the most part, though, I think paddle shifters are overrated. I may click them now and again on a down shift, but for the most part, I leave them alone.
The other thing you'll leave alone in the CTS Coupe is the back seat. Cadillac refers to this car as a 2 + 2, which means there are two seats for adults plus two computer bags. That sleek roof and high beltline come with a price. Rear space is gobbled up, leaving an alleged 35 inches of legroom in the back. And even if you do manage to climb into the back, it feels like a cave.
Up front, however, it's classic CTS. The seats sit low; you tend to fall into and roll out of the optional Recaro seats. Both maneuvers require a little practice to avoid embarrassing red carpet moments.
Cabin interior is high-tech
Inside there is a raft of high-tech features any luxury car owner expects: Bluetooth connectivity, iPod compatibility, Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround audio system and keyless start (though I would prefer a button to press to start the car instead of a twisting knob on the steering column. That's kind of like cheating).
The pop-up navigation system has aged well since it first appeared on the second-generation CTS. It looks good even when it's down and shows only the top of the screen.
Throughout the cabin, the interior feels complete and well-crafted. It's a luxury sports car at every turn, providing a quiet ride when you want it and a sporty one when you crave it.
Most of all, this car moves the CTS design forward a few light years.
Inside and out, the CTS Coupe draws a fresh direction for future CTS cars to follow as Cadillac continues to show its distinctive American luxury sports car design. It's fun to drive, affordable and even provides respectable gas mileage, hitting 27 mpg on the highway.
This is more than just the only coupe in Cadillac's lineup. It's the Cadillac of coupes.
email@example.com (313) 223-3217
Overall: *** 1/2 Exterior: Excellent. Classic head-turning looks that appear high-tech and clean.
Interior: Good. Luxurious and comfortable (at least the front). It adds to the driving experience instead of distracting from it.
Performance: Good. Quick with great handling. The rear-wheel-drive version is sportier than the all-wheel variant.
Pros: Stylish car that will get you recognized at a reasonable price.
Cons: Polarizing design won’t appeal to everyone.
**** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor