Future Car: 2014 Cadillac CTS
Cadillac redesigns its mainstay car, growing it into a true premium-midsize that should be stiffer competition for the likes of BMW’s 5-Series and Mercedes’ E-Class. With fresh looks, new engines, more room, and new features, the third-generation CTS could be the best yet.
What It Is
The 2014 Cadillac CTS begins the third generation of the premium-midsize car that bowed for 2003 to kick off a sales and image revival for General Motors’ flagship brand. A 2008-model redesign brought a fresh take on the geometric “Art & Science” styling, and the sedan was joined by wagon and coupe body styles for 2009 and ’10, respectively. Various sources believe the newest version will be offered only as a sedan, at least initially, though buyers will still have a choice of rear-drive and optional all-wheel drive. Timing, pricing and many product details are still to be confirmed, but we’d guess sales will start by the middle of calendar 2013 after a public premiere at the Detroit Auto Show in January or possibly at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2012.
2014 Cadillac CTS Design and Engineering
For cost and manufacturing reasons, the 2014 Cadillac CTS uses a stretched version of the new GM Alpha platform that underpins the 2013 ATS, Cadillac’s latest contender in the premium-compact class dominated by the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Until now, the CTS has been a dimensional ‘tweener, neither compact nor midsize, and Cadillac has finally decided it needs a separate model for each class. Not surprisingly, then, the third-gen CTS will grow to become a true premium-midsize car, thus making room for the ATS below and erasing the current size gap with the likes of the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class.
The dimensions in our specifications chart are best-guess estimates based on ATS measurements and those of premium-midsize rivals, mainly the 5-Series. If we’re right, the 2014 Cadillac CTS will grow some 3.6 inches in wheelbase from today’s sedan, but add less than 2 inches to overall length. We also expect width to expand by about an inch and height to rise by half an inch.
What about a 2014 Cadillac CTS coupe and wagon? We’ve heard nothing yet on either, but it’s telling that GM has cancelled plans for an ATS coupe and convertible, saying that sales would be too low to justify the design and tooling investment. But a new CTS wagon seems likely, as that body style remains popular in Europe, where GM is still trying to make Cadillac a meaningful luxury-class player.
Styling for the 2014 Cadillac CTS will probably share some elements with the ATS design, but should differ enough so buyers won’t easily confuse the two (unlike today’s CTS and the now-discontinued premium-midsize STS). Changes begin with a slightly arched roofline, versus horizontal, accompanied by more-upright rear pillars. We also expect slightly softer body lines; more-sculpted flanks accented by a rising crease line from front wheels to tail; a new hood with modest power bulge; and a less-aggressive face with a toned-down egg-crate grille insert, headlamp clusters curving higher into the fenders, and lower-fascia air intakes housing LED running lamps. The rear end should retain vertical tail lamps and vee’d trunk lid, center-stop lamp, and bumper shapes, but all will be refashioned for freshness.
The 2014 Cadillac CTS interior should also show some ATS influence, and the expanded exterior envelope implies improved rear legroom and perhaps headroom versus today’s car. The dashboard, console, and door panels should bear fewer wedge shapes, but will wear the usual helpings of wood and brushed-metal accents in mainstream models and metal mit carbon fiber in the high-performance CTS-V. Also emulating its baby brother, the CTS will offer a new top-line infotainment system called CUE (Cadillac User Experience). This delivers “virtual” gauges via a configurable TFT screen in front of the driver and a larger center-dashboard screen with haptic feedback, meaning your fingertips feel something akin to the sensation of pushing a mechanical button when you touch a virtual one. The system also incorporates a voice-command setup “that is said to be fairly adept in its comprehension of words and syntax,” according to Car and Driver. We’ll believe that when we hear it.
GM’s new Alpha platform is an aluminum-intensive structure whose engineering is claimed to minimize weight, in the interest of performance and fuel economy, while maximizing rigidity, for the sake of handling precision and crash safety. We therefore expect base curb weight for the 2014 Cadillac CTS to be only 100 pounds or so above that of today’s Sigma-platform model, this despite the larger exterior.
The 2014 Cadillac CTS is sure to mimic the ATS’ 4-wheel independent suspension with coil springs, front struts, rear multilink geometry, and front/rear antiroll bars. Brakes will remain 4-wheel discs with ABS and integrated traction control/antiskid system. Steering assist should switch from hydraulic to either electrohydraulic or pure electric as a minor means to improved mpg. Like today’s CTS, the new one will probably offer a base suspension with comfort-oriented spring/shock-absorber tuning and all-season tires on 17-inch wheels; and a firmer “Performance” option with 18-inch rims, driver-adjustable “magnetic-ride” shocks, and no-cost choice of all-season or “summer” tires. The muscular CTS-V should return with tight damping, handling-oriented tires on 19-inch wheels, and bigger brakes, plus a standard limited-slip differential that will be available for lesser models.
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