Innovation, or lack therof
When it comes to advanced safety features, the CTS Coupe falls a few notches behind the competition. This Coupe lacks any real innovation in terms of safety — it uses the same features found in sedans and coupes since about 2005. There is no adaptive cruise control, no blind spot warning, and very few sensors for collision warning or avoidance. Actually, the Coupe does have sensors when you go in reverse, and a back-up camera, but those options are even in the typical minivan these days.
There are no radical tech offerings – such as the feature on the latest BMW 5-Series, which can read the speed limit sign using a camera and let you know if you are a lead foot, or the lane departure intervention feature on the M37X that nudges you back into the lane. Similarly, the 2011 Buick Regal, at about $12,000 less than the base price for the CTS Coupe, also lacks any real tech innovation. It left us wondering if all of the smartest engineers at GM were too busy working on the Chevy Volt.
Another ding against this model: There was a sunroof on the model we tested, but it can’t be opened – it’s just for looks. This is not that surprising for a coupe, but a bit annoying considering that one of the best ways to use a sunroof is to get a wisp of fresh air flowing through the car.
Cadillac has somewhat made up for the lack of on-board tech features by adding the latest OnStar technology, now common on many 2011 models. This means you can use an iPhone app to unlock the car and turn on the horn and lights (either to find the car or for safety). The OnStar package also includes the ability for law enforcement to slow the car if it is stolen by having OnStar disable the accelerator, something that none of the German automakers offer (as far as we know).
We like OnStar – it works reliably and the voice control system works well. There’s just this nagging sense that there are few in-car tech features that we’d expect at this higher-end sector.
The main impression you walk away with after driving the CTS Coupe is that the vehicle is responsive, offering tight steering and smooth handling, but can lack pep around corners and for fast acceleration. (We’re hoping to test out the CTS-V Coupe at some point, which is actually quicker compared to the BMW.)
Since the engine has plenty of power, and the vehicle weighs only 3,909 pounds, with its sleek and aerodynamic, razor-cut look, the actual driving experience is fairly sporty for a vehicle that is based on the standard CTS sedan. That is to say, this may not be a sports car, and feels like a luxury sedan, but the styling makes you want to throttle up around corners. Because of its lighter weight, the CTS Coupe doesn’t have the tank-like feel of an Audi or BMW, but instead gave us the impression that the Coupe provides a luxury ride without the drag.
The CTS Coupe’s interior is roomy and comfortable, just like the standard CTS. The nav screen rises up like a periscope from the dash. (You can also push a button to lower it while driving.) We’re always keen to compare the stereo system, and the Bose 10-speaker surround system on the CTS Coupe was a notch better than the one in the Infiniti M37X, but not quite as ear-pleasing as the sound system in the Audi A8 or Jeep Grand Cherokee. The CTS has the power, but not the same audio crispness.
More flash than fire
The CTS Coupe looks like a sleek sports car with razor-like lines, a unique tailpipe and a few interesting accoutrements – like the digital door handles. When you climb in, you feel like you want to start taking corners a little faster than maybe the car can actually deliver. In reality, there were times when we missed the jarring acceleration ability of an Infiniti or BMW. This means Cadillac matches up more closely with a vehicle like the Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe, in that the ride is more like a family sedan with all the luxury appointments you’d expect but without the zip.
Unfortunately, in the final analysis, the CTS Coupe can’t match the technology and safety features of the E350, even if it aspires to the same lofty luxury car designation.