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2008 Cadillac CTS

By J.P. Vettraino

On Sale: Fall 2007
Expected Pricing: $30,000-$45,000

The next-generation Cadillac CTS promises more horsepower, optional all-wheel-drive, an impressively finished benchmark interior and one large dose of style.

The 2008 Cadillac CTS was introduced at the January 2007 North American International Auto Show at Detroit where it generated as much buzz among the thousands of attending journalists and industry execs as any of the dozens of concept and production cars revealed. By all indications, Cadillac's next small sedan is a better, more engaging automobile than the 2007 CTS. It's certainly a looker.

Indeed, it's far more attractive than the current model. The current CTS launched the chunky, angular look that now defines the Cadillac brand, and it scored points for distinctiveness and shock value. Not everyone likes it, however.

In any case, the 2008 CTS, expected to go on sale in Fall 2007, will turn heads with its style.

To be sure, its styling represents an evolution, not a revolution, but it's more graceful and sophisticated than the 2007 model. The front end, and particularly the grille, comprises the most in-your-face element on the car. It genuinely looks like it has teeth, and while some found it over the top, we loved it.

More important is the fact that the 2008 CTS has a wider track. This pulls the bottom edge of the car out, and gives it a broader, more confident stance. It looks less slab-sided and upright than the current CTS, and its tires completely fill the wheel wells, whereas the current car appears to have enough space to stand a soft-drink can on the tire.

While the 2008 CTS shares the current car's 113.4 inch wheelbase, most of its other dimensions are slightly larger. It's also a few inches larger in most dimensions than the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series sedan, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The 2008 CTS will come standard with 17-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels, with 18-inch wheels available as an option.

The width of the 2008 CTS should translate to more hip room inside, but extra space could prove secondary. If the show cars are representative of the production models, the CTS interior is first rate in design, fit and materials. We were particularly pleased to see that because the racy interior of the current model struck us as cold and austere.

Splashes of LED lighting are spread throughout the cabin of the new car. The center stack is finished with a satiny metallic material or Sapele wood. The upper dash surfaces and door trim will be cut, sewn and fitted by hand. The hand-finished center console flows seamlessly into the center stock for a strong, cockpit-style ambience.

Feature highlights include a standard Bose audio system with eight speakers and both USB and auxiliary MP3-player jacks. The jacks are in the center console, so an attached device stores nicely inside, without wires stretched across the car. The upgrade Bose system delivers 300 watts of output through 10 speakers.

The optional navigation system uses an eight-inch, touch-screen VGA monitor that telescopes from the top of the dash. Cadillac will offer an optional Smart Remote Start system, which allows the CTS driver to start the car from up to 200 feet way with the key fob, and also starts the heater, air conditioning or electrically heated and cooled seats.

Driving enthusiasts haven't been neglected, either. The current upgrade engine will be standard in the 2008 CTS in North America: a four-cam, variable valve-timing 3.6-liter V6 generating 255 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. That will give the CTS more standard power than nearly all sedans in its class.

The big news is the optional engine, a direct-injection version of the 3.6-liter V6, with 300 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices include a new six-speed automatic or six-speed manual, and a variable-torque full-time all-wheel-drive system will be offered on the CTS for the first time.

Safety equipment includes GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control, all-speed traction control, and four-channel ABS.

Cadillac will begin building the 2008 CTS this summer (2007), with dealer launch expected by the fall. The show cars suggest that a decent luxury-sport sedan will be morphing into something that makes the best luxury manufacturers in Europe and Japan squirm at least a little.


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