I nearly spilled my Starbucks mocha latte. How come? I spied my very first Cadillac CT6 out in the wild, cruising the street. Piloted by someone who might have actually bought one.
My first reaction was that this was a CTS, the flagship Caddy’s smaller sibling. But then I noticed the enormity of the thing. Its limo-like length. Its sculpted, piece-of-art-like grille. Its fabulous stance.
It looked a million bucks rolling on Midnight Silver 20-inch alloys, all steely-silver paintwork and tinted windows. All I could think was ‘wow’.
To me, one of life’s little mysteries – in addition to the continued adoration of the Kardashians – is why this new, flagship Cadillac isn’t soaring up the luxury sales charts.
Since it hit showrooms just over a year ago, its reception by American luxury sedan buyers has been tepid to say the least. Last month, fewer than 802 found buyers. In comparison, Caddy sold more than 2,440 honking Escalade SUVs.
I know, I know. Buyers of S-Class Mercs and BMW Sevens wouldn’t be seen dead in a Cadillac. Too much loyalty to the brands. Same with Audi A8 owners. That restricts the potential sales pool to Jaguar XJs, Lexus’ soon-to-be-replaced LS, and disrupters like Volvo’s new S90 and Hyundai’s Genesis G90.
I got a brief drive in a CT6 last year, but I’ve now just been able to spend a full week immersing myself in the hedonistic pleasures of the flagship CT6 model, the 3.0-liter twin-turbo AWD Platinum, all $88-grand’s-worth of it.
I still love the look of the thing. Still love walking up to it and gazing at those cascading front LED lights, that thrusting front grille and raked-back screen. It looks fresh, modern, elegant.
As I said, this is a big car. It’s 8.5 inches longer than a CTS and only a couple of inches shorter than the long-wheelbase versions of BMW 7-series and a Merc S-Class.
But despite its size, the beauty of the Caddy is its weight, or lack of it. Using lightweight aluminum for its body panels, structural bits and suspension, the whole car weighs-in at a supermodel-slender 3,700 pounds. Most of its rivals top 4,500.
That allows Cadillac to equip the CTS with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 instead of a big V8, which you might have expected from Caddys of old. Lesser CTS’s can even be had with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but that’s going a little too far.
But this new V6 cranks out an impressive 404 horsepower which, when coupled with a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic, makes the CTS feel as frisky as a sugared-up two-year-old.
Punch the pedal and it lunges off the line, aided by standard all-wheel drive traction. Give it some gas to pass slower traffic, and it feels like it’s been released from a catapult. No, it’s not the quietest, smoothest, most-refined V6 in its class. But it’s pretty close.
The car’s lightness of being however makes it a blast to drive through the curves. Cadillac engineers have injected some of the character of its performance-focused V-series models into the CTS, so its steering feels precise and responsive, its suspension firm yet supple.
And, as you might expect of a flagship model with an $87,495 base price – the range starts with the 2.0-liter at $53,795 – it’s loaded to the roof with luxury and technology features. The 34-speaker Bose Panaray audio system wouldn’t sound out of place in Carnegie Hall.
Inside, the cabin is a piece of art, with gorgeous leathers, wood and satin metal. And it’s brimming with cool technology; I love the hi-def clarity of the 12-inch color screen for the driver and separate 10-inch touchscreen in the center of the dash.
This car is also all about space. Ease into the individual rear seats, especially in the range-topping Platinum version I’m driving, and you’re cosseted and comforted with reclining, massaging and cooled backrest. It’s like being at a spa.
If you’re contemplating moving up into a serious luxury sedan, maybe don’t go straight for the default Europeans. At least take a drive in a Caddy CT6. And I just saw on the Cadillac website that they’re currently offering 24-hour, take-it-home test drives. You won’t be disappointed.