Cadillac BLS 1.9 turbodiesel – Diesel Road test

23 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Cadillac BLS 1.9 turbodiesel – Diesel Road test
Cadillac BLS

Cadillac BLS

1.9 turbodiesel – Diesel Road test

Cadillac BLS 1.9 turbodiesel

Heard the one about the turbodiesel Cadillac? Yes, I thought it was a joke, too. I ticked the box on the launch invitation and readied myself for plenty of petroleum-based thrills. Checking the small print for the event though, the D word jumped out like, well, like the word Peace from the mouth of George Bush.

Yes, Cadillac is going all diesely. What next, McTofu? So with such a key US player seeing the light, perhaps the planet isn’t about to implode after all.

Hold on though, is this revolutionary diesel Caddy USA-bound?

Ah, you spotted the sleight of hand. Cadillac’s main mission is to re-establish itself as the automatic choice in America’s luxury market, but this model’s task is purely to build sales elsewhere, elsewhere being Europe. Cadillac says there are two million buyers out there in Europe’s premium business car market.

It has a bulging portfolio of models to choose from and I’m not even going to attempt to explain them because the nomenclature constitutes the single most abstract and baffling set of badges ever conceived. Suffice to say, this potential rival to the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 is sent out to chase a modest 10,000 global sales in its first year, with a painfully shy target of just 1,500 in the UK.

And the diesel is crucial to that target?

Although there are three other petrol engines – a 175hp or 210hp 2.0-litre and a more characteristically American 2.8-litre V6 turbo, with 255hp – this 150hp common-rail turbodiesel is the infantry of the attack and the make-or-break model.

So how does it feel?

To assess it, what better than to measure it against Cadillac’s own mission statement: ‘stand-out design, precise handling and excellent performance.’ On glossy paper, the BLS stands out slightly more than it does in reality. In fact, on tarmac, it looks more like what it actually is – a General Motors Saab 9-3 with a body kit. It certainly has visual impact, but it’s my bet that this model’s initial pizzazz factor will quickly tone down after you’ve been liaising with it for a few weeks.

If anything, the distinctive V shape grille and vertical rear lights make me think of a burlesque Vectra. Given the compact size of the car, it seems to be trying a little too hard. And its bottom looks big.

And the handling and performance?

Well, there are far punchier and more reassuring diesels out there. This Fiat-GM engine, in this context, does need to be worked fairly hard to deliver anything true approaching performance. It has a fairly narrow torque band too, so be prepared for some gearwork when overtaking.

With a 60mph time of 9.5 seconds in the manual option and 11 in the automatic, it’s no pace-setter (I’d want a good second off either for it to qualify in this respect), but that’s not to say it’s unrefined or laborious. On the motorway, it’s in its element, cruising quietly and smoothly.

Cadillac BLS

And on twisting roads, though the steering could do with a little more feedback, the ride is adept and the actual roadholding very impressive. And the overall thirst of 46mpg can only add to that feeling.

So what are the material incentives to buy?

Money is key, actually. Cadillac stresses that this model will emerge around 5-10% cheaper than the equivalent Audi, BMW or Lexus, though in the hard light of day, my suspicion is that it’s aiming above its true league and the more likely rivals are Peugeot 407, Ford Mondeo and Toyota Avensis. All buyers, from Business trim up, get: air conditioning, cruise, steering wheel-mounted radio controls 16-inch alloys, four electric windows and a seven-speaker CD player.

Step up to Elegance and you also have ESP control, wood garnish, automatic wipers, heated seats, split zone climate control and beefier 17-inch alloys. The Sport Luxury has harder sports suspension, Xenon headlights, leather and strapping 18-inchers (which are as likely to improve the ride as high heels on a donkey).

All in all, then?

Sadly, I’m not sold, but it’s a question of taste: if you have any, you’ll buy what this car essentially is – the Saab 9-3. Only joking, of course. The Cadillac might be just what palate-dulled execs are looking for.

Prices start at #xAF;#xBF;#xBD;21,473 for the manual and #xAF;#xBF;#xBD;22,933 for the auto version.

Tiscali verdict: 5/10 Perhaps it’s a them and US thing.

Cadillac BLS
Cadillac BLS
Cadillac BLS
Cadillac BLS
Cadillac BLS
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