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2008 Cadillac CTS

2008 Cadillac CTS Redefined with New Powertrains
by Bob Plunkett

Pinnacles, Calif. — California 146. The appropriately labeled Pinnacles Highway is two lanes of blacktop pointing into the beautiful Pinnacles Wilderness where gnarly spires of granite spike the horizon.

It's a narrow road winding around lumpy hills where — on one particular day — there's not another vehicle in sight to impede our freewheeling ride on the quick side of automotive performance in a new sports touring sedan that's well equipped for the task of tracking quickly, but adeptly, through so many curves.

The new 2008 Cadillac CTS — rising off a rigid platform with pliable independent suspension components pinned above every wheel — also carries a forceful aluminum engine that translates all torque through a six-speed manual gearbox and sends it to the rear wheels in classic, and highly predictable and controllable, front-engine/rear-drive arrangement.

With its wide track and squatty stance, the knife-edge sharp skin of the CTS ripples over wheelwells and amplifies a blunt in-your-face prow capped by a toothy grille. This four-door sportster seems like it could out-run the wind and finesse any twisty road course it comes across.

Odds are favorable that it can easily accomplish those feats and more because the agile sedan setting a lickety-split time over the Pinnacles Highway is the latest iteration of CTS, the mid-size sports touring sedan from Cadillac.

This car made history in 2003 as the first rear-wheel-drive (RWD) vehicle in Cadillac's fleet since 1979, and the first stocking a manual transmission for a RWD Caddy in half a century.

For 2008, a make-over for Generation 2.0 of CTS brings fresh package styling with a brash front grille patterned after the Cadillac Sixteen concept car. The new CTS also scores a wheeltrack that's two inches wider, with traction in conventional RWD or on-demand, all-wheel-drive (AWD). It's two powertrain choices culminate with a forceful new direct-injection V6. We'll enumerate the mechanical equipment, but first let's check out that new package styling.

The lines are bold and sharp, but also clean with unique forms marked by angular shapes and crisp edges. The sedan's aggressive face features a prominent horizontal louver panel in modern interpretation of the Cadillac egg-crate grille and piercing optics with stacked round high-intensity discharge (HID) xenon lamps that swivel in concert with the vehicle's front wheels.

2008 Cadillac CTS- 3/4 viewFlanks are sheer below knife-edge shoulders and interrupted only by fenders flaring around some big wheelwells. The CTS wheels stand near front and rear corners, leaving curt overhangs at the prow and tail. The fender slats are designed to dissipate hot air below the hood. The Cadillac's roofline remains low, canting in front in line with the windshield and rolling back with blacked-out center pillars, simulating a coupe's canopy.

Tail treatment for the CTS shows a slick slab bumper in monochrome flanked by tall vertical taillamps — a Cadillac hallmark — with twin round pipes in chrome protruding below the bumper. Inside a spacious cabin with seating for five, the exterior theme of chiseled forms and angular features is expressed in a monochromatic treatment with hand-cut, hand-sewn and hand-wrapped surfaces.

Vivid analog instruments are housed in three tubular binnacles and the dashboard center stack of controls is trimmed in a high-tech satin metallic finish or genuine Sapele Pommele wood.

Front bucket seats, heated and ventilated, are contoured to fit the body with firm side bolsters to hold you in place during quick-cut pavement maneuvers. The soft leather upholstery comes with French stitching, which also shows up on the instrument panel, door inserts and shifter boot.

The CTS is packed with extensive safety measures including air bags surrounding front-seat riders, which stretch like curtains in concealment above front and rear side windows.

The four-wheel disc brakes score big high-performance aluminum brake calipers and link electronically to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) and traction control system (TCS) with GM's StabiliTrak skid controls. Steering, through a rack and pinion device enhanced by a variable-assist power system, feels dead-on precise and entirely quick in response.

The powertrain options begin with the base aluminum 3.6-liter V6 rigged with dual overhead cams and VVT (variable valve timing). This plant generates 263 horsepower at 6,200 rpm with the torque pushed to 253 lb-ft at 3,100 rpm. The standard transmission is a smooth-to-shift six-speed manual gearbox made by Aisin, the AY6. Also available is the electronically controlled six-speed automatic, GM's Hydra-Matic 6L50.

Optional power comes from a direct-injection version of the dual-cam 3.6-liter VVT V6, which generates the power of a V8 with better fuel economy numbers. With direct injection, the fuel goes directly into the engine's combustion chamber and fosters a thorough burn of the mix of air and fuel.

The top V6 for the CTS makes 304 horsepower at 6,300 rpm, with the torque peaking to 293 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm. With the base V6 aboard, the CTS works in RWD or AWD mode. However, with the direct-injection V6, only RWD applies.

2008 Cadillac CTS- InteriorDesigners of the CTS 2.0 conspired with the engineers who developed the iPod as well as computer and entertainment experts. The outcome of this planning is a center console for that's geared to work seamlessly with iPods, MP3 players and other digital music devices. You can even recharge an iPod or MP3 player from the USB port.

An optional 40 GB hard drive enables pause-and-rewind of a live radio program, or ripping tracks from CDs. Also, the available Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround premium audio kit is a 300-watt, 10-speaker system that incorporates Bose Centerpoint technology and enables two-channel audio information.

Cadillac establishes MSRP figures for the 2008 CTS beginning at $32,245 for the base engine with RWD format and manual shifter. Add the automatic transmission and the MSRP rises to $34,545. Packaged equipment brings more gear for more dollars — a Luxury Collection, Premium Luxury Collection, Performance Collection, Luxury Level One and Luxury Level Two.

2008 Cadillac CTS Sedan

Description: Mid-size sports touring sedan
Model options: CTS
Wheelbase: 113.4 inches
Overall length: 191.6 inches
Engine size: DOHC 3.6-L V6 VVT/PFI, DOHC 3.6-L V6 VVT/DI
Transmissions/speeds: Manual/6/AY6, Auto/6/6L50
Rear/front drive: RWD, AWD
Steering: Power rack and pinion
Braking: Power 4-disc, ABS/TCS/StabiliTrak
Air bags: 2 (front), 2 (side), 4 (side curtain)
EPA mileage est. city/hwy: V6 PFI - 18/26 mpg, V6 -17/26 mpg
MSRP: CTS RWD M/6 - $ 32,245, CTS RWD A/6 - $ 34,545

Learn more about the 2008 Cadillac CTS Sedan.