2014 Cadillac CTS
2014 Cadillac CTS
2014 Cadillac CTS
2014 Cadillac CTS. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Paul Williams

It’s been over a decade since Cadillac bet the farm on its radical Art and Science design direction. The new look – angular, faceted, severe, even – caused quite a stir, with many critics suggesting it wouldn’t last, couldn’t evolve. “Where do you take such a look?” was the typical refrain.

Well, one of the places you take it is to the 2014 Cadillac CTS, where the lines and surfaces have evolved into a less planar, but still distinctive version of the original concept.

As well as wearing a smoother, softer, more approachable evolution of the once topical form (and proving that “Art and Science” did have somewhere to go, after all), the new CTS is notable for several other reasons. First of all, it has grown, and while some vehicles just grow over the years for no reason other than to be bigger than the competition, in the case of the CTS, this is a wise decision.

The reason is that the outgoing CTS was bigger than most compact luxury vehicles, but smaller than its mid-size competition, possibly leaving consumers confused when cross-shopping, and auto writers asking what exactly the CTS was competing against. For 2014, there’s no mistake: the longer (by 127 mm), lower, larger Cadillac CTS wants to go head-to-head with the BMW 5 Series. Other competitors are mentioned by Cadillac executives, like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class or Audi A6, but it’s the 5 Series with which the CTS wants to duke it out (while the recently introduced Cadillac ATS takes on the 3 Series).

But in addition to better targeting the CTS, General Motors sees it as an expression of some ambitious plans for Cadillac itself. According to Scott Meldrum, CTS Product Manager, Canada, “The vision is to create the world’s most dramatic and emotional luxury brand.”

I know, you’re thinking you’ve heard this before, and that even though Cadillac’s produced some pretty impressive machinery over the past few years, its reign as “The Standard of the World,” is long gone and never to return.

But this time, we’re told, it’s different. This time, the motivated crew at GM have both the desire and the resources and to genuinely raise the Cadillac bar. In the CTS, we’ll see what GM can do when it puts it mind to it.

2014 Cadillac CTS2014 Cadillac CTS
2014 Cadillac CTS. Click image to enlarge

Beyond the increased dimensions and refining and modernizing its exterior design, the major order of business, according to Mr. Meldrum, was to improve quality down to the smallest detail. In that endeavour, every component of the CTS was examined, vetted, reengineered or replaced. Every surface in the CTS interior is soft to the touch, and all the materials are genuine (the wood trim is real wood, the carbon fibre is real, the leather, metal, suede are real).

Get behind the wheel and you can see that the edges of the power window controls are finely finished in metal, the upholstery stitching is straight and even, the paddle shifters look like magnesium and they are, the back of the map pockets are carpeted and tailored, the panel fitment is within the smallest tolerances, the rear-view mirror looks like it came from Apple’s design studio (Mr. Meldrum describes it as “sexy” and if a mirror can be that, this one is). There’s even a motorized cover for the cupholders in the center console.

The point, though, is Cadillac’s intention to vault the CTS into immediate and genuine contention with the major players in the mid-size luxury segment, and my first impression upon entering the CTS cabin is that this they’re well on their way.

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