Images: Paul Williams, Amee Reehal for Cadillac

Here are three words you may not have associated with Cadillac: distinctive, sophisticated, agile. Yet those are the three objectives Cadillac has most recently chosen to guide its brand into the future.

So far, so good, it turns out. As Cadillac introduces its new models (CTS, ATS, CT6) the quality advances are obvious; the vehicles are truly impressive and world-class competitive in comparison with past efforts. The latest model, the 2017 XT5, will likely be Canada’s best-selling Cadillac (as was its predecessor, the SRX), an added motivation to not get this one wrong.

Inside, outside and in-between. These three words provide focus for guests of the Fogo Island Inn. Not so much objectives (right away you can see this is a different approach to presenting the brand), these words are more about experience. What is it like to stay at the Inn? What’s different about it? Why should you go?

Cadillac sees commonality, here. So they chose the exclusive, award-winning and very daring Fogo Island Inn as the location for the XT5’s Canadian media introduction. And did I say “daring?” That’s a Cadillac mantra, too. Dare greatly, we’re told. That’s what Cadillac says it’s doing; that’s what they’d like buyers in this segment to do as well. Dare to buy a Cadillac.

As noted in our Cadillac XT5 First Drive, this vehicle is fundamentally a much-improved SRX. But it’s not just a refresh and rebadge. The exterior is smoothed and massaged into a form that seems at once more approachable but still dramatic and arguably more imposing; the interior is a surprise of sophisticated lines, quality manufacture and attention to detail.

Under the hood, an all-new 3.6L V6 makes a smooth 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque through a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models are available and pricing ranges from $45,100 for the XT5 to $68,595 for the XT5 Platinum (“free flow” options will further increase the price if chosen).

On the narrow, winding roads of Fogo Island (population 2,500) with its predominance of pick-up trucks and well-used sedans, the Cadillac XT5 with its sleek form and flashy LED lights does not easily blend in. You could see that even to residents now accustomed to tourists and fleets of rental cars, heads turned as an XT5 motored by, preceded by the mildly superior smirk of the new Cadillac grille.

Drive one of these to the futuristic – shocking, even – architecture of the Fogo Island Inn, though, and clearly vehicle and building are of similar aesthetic. Look at the Inn from a distance and it just seems so incongruous compared to the rocky, windswept landscape of this near-subarctic region. What was he (Todd Saunders, architect, Newfoundland-born) thinking?

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Well, he was thinking about the combination of traditional and modern, for one thing. And it really is a surprise when you get up close to the exterior walls of the Inn, that from a distance look like they’re formed from some kind of aerospace polymer, to find they’re actually made of tongue and groove wooden boards laid horizontally, just as you’ll find in one of the many century-old “salt-box” houses that decorate the island’s coast. Strong, simple, typical of the region, the Inn is built the same way.

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