New Cadillac Flagship?

The upcoming Cadillac XTS will notionally replace both the Cadillac DTS and the Cadillac STS.    Certainly it seems a numeric replacement for the Cadillac DTS, as a FWD or AWD model with perhaps similar ride, handling and all-weather traction.

Replacement of the STS, originally intended to be Cadillac’s S-Class or BMW 7-Series Competitor by the upcoming XTS is more problematic.   Although the AWD variant of the XTS can be tuned to have some rear-wheel drive dynamics, it is difficult for such a vehicle to have the control, predictability, and performance of a true rear-wheel drive sedan.

Once more Bloomberg reports that GM CEO Ed Whitacre has charged the team to do a business case analysis for Cadillac to develop a new high-end rear-wheel drive flagship:

The company has also started work on a flagship sedan for Cadillac, two of the people said. Designers are looking at several prototypes that differ from the XTS concept car on display at the Detroit auto show in January, they said. If GM’s board approves funding for the luxury car, intended to compete with BMW AG’s 7 Series, it wouldn’t be built for several years, they said.

It is not clear if this model would impact development of the XTS itself; I hope Cadillac moves forward with the release of a hybrid power-trained XTS while considering development of a new model.   Production of the XTS really seems a no-brainer, building on the advantages and sales base of that platform and offering a high-end replacement for DTS buyers.    Meanwhile, penciling in a high-end sedan above the CTS works.  It would even make sense to plan a high-end variant of the next gen Alpha-platform CTS and make that the flagship.

There are still on-the-shelf technologies such as a hybrid power plant, Heads-up Display, lane departure warning, and blind-spot alert that are not available in the CTS family.  Moreover, the magnetic suspension used so well in the current CTS-V could be offered in a high-end sedan as standard equipment.

I am excited if Cadillac brings on a high-end sedan stable-mate or Flagship.  I hope that the Team does not take their eye off the ball however and send indecision to the showrooms instead of new models.  Bring the XTS along and continue to work the business case for a high end RWD flagship.

Friday Test Drive: 2007 Cadillac STS 1SE

I popped over to a local Cadillac Dealer to look at a low mileage 2007 Cadillac CTS-V that they had:

2007 Cadillac CTS-V

Unfortunately, another couple was just taking it out for a test drive, then heading to negotiations as I arrived, so I missed meeting that Cadillac.

2007 Cadillac STS 1SE

Meanwhile, I spotted a 2007 Cadillac STS 1SE on the lot with 42k miles.  The 2007 STS has the 320 hp Northstar 4.6L V8 with variable valve timing.  The 1SE designation means that this is a V8 Luxury model, and not the 1SG Performance Model.  These have to be taken as you find them however, because they can be optioned up quite closely to the 1SG.  The feature that the 1SG has that these don’t get is the MR magnetic suspension.  This one has the Navigation with Premium sound system, and Sunroof so it is a reasonably well equipped example.

I have been shopping around between the 2007 CTS-V, the 2008 STS-V, and the 2009 STS Platinum or STS 1SG models.  I wanted to test drive this Cadillac because it models very closely how one might expect the 2009 STS Platinum or 1SG to drive.  Same engine, same transmission, same vehicle except for some option differences and year differences.  This example was Light Platinum exterior, ebony interior.  The dealer has it on the net for $25K.

2007 Cadillac STS 1SE interior with Nav

We took the 2007 STS 1SE out for a test drive, and up on the Tollway for a bit.  In general it felt strong, but not really better performance than my 2005 CTS 3.6L with CAI & Corsa Catback.  Now since my CTS and this STS have similar 0-60 mph performance that was not surprising, but it does confirm the armchair prediction.  The interior features are good on this car, and the car looked good.  The STS received a redesign that improved the exterior styling in 2008, so I would definitely shop for a 2008+ model however.

After driving this STS my feeling is that I will now exclude the STS V8 1SG from my shopping list, and focus on the 08/09 STS-V, or hold out another year for the prices of the 2009 CTS-V sedans to fall closer to my budget.  I suppose a 2009 STS Platinum might be interesting, but is unlikely to fall to my price range.  The STS 4.6L V8 became interesting because I see that they are in my price range.   They are great cars, and offer very good performance.  I really want my next Cadillac to have break-away performance however, so I’ll have to look for the rare 2008 STS-V at a bargain or wait for the 2009 CTS-V to come into range.

Power versus MPG

In selecting my next Cadillac, I am drawn the to highest performance models available within my budget.  More is always better right?

My model for the ‘right’ 0-60 time for a sport sedan is 5.5 to 6  seconds this year.   Performance of cars as a whole changes over time, as automobile performance improves.

The current CTS DI 3.6L will do 0-60 mph in 6.3-6.5 sec.  The CTS should be below 6 seconds with 304 hp, but it also gained a bit of weight with added features, and has fuel economy minded gearing.  Yes I recognize that is kind of in the same range, but let’s assume for this discussion that quicker is important.  So the CTS 3.6L is just on the upper edge of my desired performance envelope, and is right in the right zone for MPG.

Now, the 2006-2009 STS-V with 469 hp will go 0-60 in around 5 sec, or as Cadillac measured in under 5 seconds.  However, this model gets 19 mpg highway compared to the CTS DI 3.6L V6 MPG of 28 MPG highway.

One compromise candidate is the 2005-2009 STS 4.6L V8, with the 320 hp VVT Northstar.  This sedan gets very close to 0-60 mph in 6 sec in most tests, and has fair fuel economy at 24 mpg highway.

The new Gen2 CTS-V with 556 hp supercharged 6.2L V8 will do 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds with a Cadillac test driver, or just over 4 seconds with a magazine writer driving.  The new CTS-V is still outside of my budget however, and also gets 19 mpg highway.

The 2006-2007 Cadillac CTS-V with 6L LS2 V8 engines would do 0-60 in under 5 seconds, and are rated at 24 mpg highway.  So these are interesting, but they will soon be out of warranty.  I like to keep my daily driver under warranty, so if there is an issue I can simply drop it off for service, pick up a loaner car, and be on my way.  These are also only available in manual transmissions.  A manual is okay for me, but is challenging for other members of my household.

So this thought process leaves me wondering if I should change my target from “as quick as possible” to “as quick as possible and still get more than 24 mpg highway”, or similar.

In this range that 5 mpg costs around $1000 per year given my mileage per year and average gas prices.  So would you pay $1000 per year for another 150 hp, or 47% more power?  I suppose over the 5 years I plan to drive the car that is less than the cost of a Supercharger or similar power adder.

How many MPG is more power worth to you?