Driven: Cadillac CT6
The first of a new wave of car from the iconic American brand that sees it returning to its core values.Damien Reid June 29, 2016
After trying to please the Europeans with smaller cars like the CTS and sleek coupes, Cadillac is going back to doing what it does best - big, bold cars and the first one to hit our shores is the range leading CT6.
I’m refraining from calling it ‘range topping’ or ‘flagship’, because word has it that another bigger, Caddy will follow a few years later which will probably also see a return of V8 power and possibly even some kind of hybrid or electrification of the drive train. But in the meantime, the all-new CT6 leads the way as the biggest in the range, taking on the likes of the BMW 5-Series and even the regular wheelbase S-Class Mercedes-Benz.
The great thing about modern Cadillacs is the design language, which ensures that even from a mile off, there’s no mistaking this for anything else on the road. Its vertical headlight treatment has been accentuated by daylight LEDs that run from below the front bumper to over the hood with similarly tall taillights bookending the boot lid. They make a dramatic statement and judging by the looks from pedestrians when we lurked through the downtown city streets of Los Angeles, it certainly grabbed plenty of attention.
On this point too, kudos to Caddy’s design team for taking a path no other car maker wanted to venture as the horizontal look eschewed by every other manufacturer is a measured tactic used to make a car look wider.
What should make the Caddy stand tall and ungainly only makes it appear more masculine and yet somehow still seems wide with a fat presence and footprint. It’s a reward for successfully breaking the mold of modern saloon car styling.
Big it may be, but the engineering brief was to make the CT6 light and so it features an aluminium-intensive structure that incorporates 11 different materials that is said to be 99kgs lighter than comparable models using steel. So while its interior space is roughly the equivalent of a short wheelbase BMW 7-Series, its weight is closer to the 5-Series or Mercedes E-Class.
On the road this means better fuel economy but what I found from behind the wheel is that it also means more direct steering and a sharper feel through the front end than I was expecting. With Cadillac’s traditional design of a set back cabin and long front overhang to give it that classic long, low profile, I was expecting a lazier feel through the nose but it felt more like a taught front-wheel drive instead.
Inside, there are five massaging programs for the leather seats, which reclined in the rear seats of the test car and included HDMI and USB ports built into the armrests.
The quadzone climate air-con uses a secondary system that allows passengers to personalise the temperature and airflow for each seating position, along with ionising air purification.
Other cool features include new LED lighting and a brilliant Bose Panaray premium audio system, which has been designed from the ground up just for this car, hence why it features no fewer than 34 speakers.
- Engine: 3-litre, twin-turbo V6 AWD
- Power: 404bhp @5700rpm
- Torque: 542Nm @ 2500rpm
- 0-100kmh: 5.2 seconds
- Top Speed: 250kmh
- Price: AED 290,000
When it comes to connectivity, Cadillac’s CUE system (Cadillac User Experience) has always been one of my favourites as it pioneered the use of haptic technology which sends pulses back through your fingers when you press the touch screen commands and the feel changes according to the tasks you’re performing. Cadillac also debuted capacitive touch, which senses when your fingers are close to the screen and automatically brings up sub menus before retracting again so that it leaves you with an unobstructed navigation screen.
The system now features a larger 10.2-inch screen as well as a console-mounted pad that allows you to carry out most functions without taking your eyes off the road and reduces the amount of unsightly finger prints marks on the screen.
The interior is as you would expect from Cadillac with acres of rear seat leg room, glossy or open-pore wood trim, lots of leather and the overall ambience of high-end cigar bar that’s been infused with a splash of high-tech gadgetry.
A very neat, yet simple inclusion to the driving experience is the rear view mirror which can be used normally or, at the flick of a toggle, becomes a screen relaying images from a rear-view camera that offers a virtually identical view that you’re used to, but without obstructions from the rear seat headrests or rear passengers heads blocking the view.
The CT6 also has full 360 degree views around the car to reduce blind spots when parking as well as an industry-first surround recording system that records front and rear views while driving and 360 degree recording if the car’s security system is activated.
I’m not sure how this will be adopted in the Middle East given the strict laws of filming without permits, especially from cars, but it could be a brilliant way to reduce insurance premiums and court cases if you’re involved in a collision.
Several engine options are available including the 3.6-litre V6 but our test car was the range-topping 404bhp, 3-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 that comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Our test car also featured the Active Chassis package, which you can tell only by it sitting on 20-inch rims but features the brilliant Magnetic Ride Control that has been licenced by GM to the likes of Ferrari and Maserati as well as active rear wheel steering.
The CT6 is the first in a new wave of Cadillacs that the company hopes will be a rosy new era for the quintessential American marque.