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Cadillac CTS 3.6 V6 Car Review | December 7, 2007

Driven December 2007

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Forget Elvis. Forget Liberace. Forget pink tail fins. GM chiefs have had enough of the world associating Cadillac with hazy notions of retro extravagance, and have instead decreed it a brand for movers and shakers and go-getters. So when we think Caddy we should think tigers. With guns. On speedboats.

And Cadillac believes the new CTS is the car to change those perceptions. It certainly looks the part: imposing, muscular and high-hipped, with liberal flashes of chrome and reams of LED strip lights. Subtle? Not even slightly, but it's a solid design that teems with pleasing details: that front fender is, apparently, the most complex panel ever stamped.

Surprisingly, it's the same story on the inside. Neat hand-stitching runs across the leather dash, while the only signs of authentic US flimsiness are the creaky plastic panels on the centre console.

The 3.6-litre V6 feels similarly robust. Whisper-quiet at tickover, it develops a pleasantly steely growl at high revs. With 311bhp channelling through the rear wheels, it's perhaps not as quick as you might expect, but 6.3 seconds to 60mph is respectable enough.

Of course, there's a large elephant in the room here: an elephant with 'HANDLING?' painted across its side in foot-high letters. By tradition, a big American saloon should corner with all the grace of, well, a large elephant in a very small room.

But that wouldn't fit too comfortably with the whole tiger-speedboat philosophy, so Cadillac's engineers camped out at the Nürburgring for a few months to teach the CTS to handle like a proper German performance saloon.

They've not made a bad fist of it. The stiffest suspension set-up - wisely, Cadillac isn't bringing the slushiest handling pack to the UK - keeps the CTS sharp on turn-in and composed through the twisty stuff. OK, the ride is a mite jittery at low speed, but overall the drive is - hell, I'll just come right out and say it - good. Yes, good.

OK, with no diesel reaching the line-up until 2009, the CTS's lofty carbon emissions and meagre fuel economy (a sobering 14mpg on my test run) will be enough to deter many, but hell, those sort of prissy eco-concerns aren't what New Cadillac is about. New Cadillac is about elegance and luxury... apparently.

And, in case you were wondering, you can't even buy the new CTS in pink. Elvis has left the building.

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