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Hang on, I recognise that. Didn’t you just drive a new Cadillac CT6?
Yes, we have just driven the big Cadillac in Europe. But this is the entry level version of Caddy’s current range-topping, S-Class, A8 and XJ-competitor luxury saloon. Cadillac’s brand people would have it that the CT6 combines the luxury of a full-size car with the dynamics of a class-smaller car, thanks to its mixed material make-up. But good handling is only part of what a car in this league needs to succeed. Hush and luxury are also high on the list of must haves, too.
So what’s different about this version?
Apart from the fitment of the 2.0-litre turbocharged four – yes, a four in a luxury saloon; only the new Volvo S90 does that too – that can be had in virtually every other Cadillac on sale today, other than the Escalade, there are plenty of other spec changes.
Such as the chassis. All-wheel drive is optional on the next level up V6 models and standard on the Premium Luxury and Platinum trim levels – the third and fourth tier in a four-tiered system that starts with a sackcloth-and-ashes-sounding Base, then Luxury, like the car tested here. But the 2.0-litre cars get just rear wheel drive only. They also don’t get the option of the active chassis package which includes magnetic dampers and active rear steering.
That must make it much lighter, though.
It does, not just compared with the fat cat versions of the CT6, but especially all the German, Japanese and British competition. Compared with a 3.0-litre Audi A8, the 2.0T CT6 weighs an astonishing 360kg – four good-sized passengers – less. Which is one of the reasons it can get away with being powered by a 265bhp four and not feel weak kneed.
Also bodes well for the handling.
Which is borne out when you throw it down a twisty, bumpy bit of road. Despite being of small battleship proportions, the modern trademark Cadillac lightness of touch and accurate handling are both present and correct. The ride is also well controlled and without sudden interferences, so you can hustle it along at surprisingly high speeds before sense prevails.
What about the luxury bit?
Our test car had everything you’d expect – comfortable, heated and ventilated seats, big-screen controls and a huge double sunroof. But it also had modern luxuries like a 4G wi-fi hotspot – far more important than engine size to any occupant other than the driver – a 34-speaker Bose Panaray sound system, which sounds like overkill until you hear it, and a widescreen rear view mirror fed by a camera. So what it lacks in traditional grunt it more than makes up for elsewhere.
But can it glide?
Yes and no. When it’s steady state cruising, the car is super quiet and calm. But when accelerating the engine is a little loud and reminds you why people buy the bigger, better-sounding motors. There was also a weird occasional clunk – Cadillac engineers say it’s already been fixed on production models – when the eight-speed box shifted from first to second and then back again. Which was all the more noticeable as the rest of the car is so smooth and hushed.
So should I buy one?
There’s a lot to like about this version, not least its price ($66k and change as tested) which, like its weight, is from not one but two-classes below. The only other car that is anywhere near this sticker for this much car is the full-size but front-driven Cadillac XTS. So why would you buy this model? If you want a big, agile, American luxury car that costs the same as a high-spec 3 Series BMW, uses less fuel and is packed with modern toys, this is the car for you. There isn’t anything else that ticks all those boxes.