Plenty of kit and impressive on paper, is Caddy’s new S-class rival the bargain it appears to be?
Test location: Joachimsthal, Germany GPS: 52.96839, 13.75017
This Cadillac does not have a V8. I know what you’re thinking: what is the point of having a true American car that doesn’t have a big, burbling V8? Well, the new CT6 is Cadillac’s latest attempt at breaking into the European market, and this is its Mercedes-Benz S-class rival. As such, it’s been designed to appeal to people who are more interested in luxury, fuel economy and dynamic finesse than small-block Chevy V8s.
So, instead of a V8, the CT6 has a 3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 producing 411bhp and 409lb ft. With four-wheel drive standard, that’s enough to propel the 1950kg Cadillac to 62mph in 5.7sec. There is no choice of transmission – the CT6 comes with an eight-speed automatic. In fact, there aren’t any options at all, the Platinum-spec CT6 – the only trim level available in the UK – coming fully loaded with almost everything you could wish for: Apple CarPlay, a big touchscreen infotainment system, night vision, built-in Wi-Fi, four-wheel steering, and massage seats front and rear. The only option you’d really want that you can’t have is for it to be right-hand drive.
The most intriguing piece of technology in the CT6 is its rear-view camera. A lens points out of the back of the car and the image it captures is displayed where the interior mirror would normally be. The image shows a wider angle than you get with a mirror, but the main advantage is that passengers, headrests and roof pillars don’t interrupt your vision. It sounds ideal, but in reality it’s not quite as natural as a mirror and it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust to the screen. Should you want or need to have a mirror instead, the display can be turned off and its surface becomes reflective.
The rest of the interior is more conventional. The seats are big, deeply cushioned and extremely comfortable, just as you’d expect of a luxury American saloon. It doesn’t look as wild or modern as the exterior, and it doesn’t quite have the same Teutonic tastefulness to the dials and graphics as rivals. The finish isn’t as honed, either: the materials feel good quality but the buttons don’t have a satisfying action and overall things don’t feel as solid. However, the CT6 is only £69,990. A similarly specced S-class would be £30,000 more expensive.
Our test route doesn’t offer many opportunities to test the Cadillac’s handling abilities. Instead there is a lot of motorway, but the CT6 excels at wafting down a long, straight road. In a high gear, the engine is practically silent, but start to rev it and it begins to make a satisfyingly aggressive noise. Indeed, it’s eager to rev, and with eight gears to choose from, it’s also responsive and pulls well, too. When a corner does arrive, you get a hint of the CT6’s character. Sadly it’s mostly inert. Sport mode (as opposed to Tour or Snow/Ice) adds some weight to the steering and sharpens up the gearbox, but it doesn’t change the CT6’s character.
The rear end remains very soft, absorbing all attempts to coax any excitement from it, and the engine that felt sprightly in a straight line is sluggish trying to pull the CT6 out of corners. The gearbox, left in automatic, is frustrating, and even in manual mode the shifts are slow and ill-defined. The paddles are also too far from the rim of the wheel.
The steering, meanwhile, offers no feedback, but even worse is that it’s difficult to judge how much lock is needed. The car doesn’t react enough to your initial input, so it takes even more lock before you’re on your desired path. This could be a result of the rear-wheel steering trying to make the car more stable.
So, Mercedes and BMW aren’t going to loose any sleep. The CT6 just doesn’t engage an enthusiastic driver, and it’s way outside its ideal operating window when it’s being hustled. However, just cruising along, it works superbly.
Specification 2017 Cadillac-CT6
Evo rating 3/5
, 2997cc, twin-turbo CO2 223g/km
Power 411bhp @ 5700rpm
Torque 409lb ft @ 2500-5100rpm
0-62mph 5.7sec (claimed)
Top speed 149mph (claimed)
Weight 1950kg (214bhp/ton)
Basic price £69,990
+ Extremely comfortable
- Not a hint of excitement; no right-hand drive