Cadillac 3.0L vs BMW 3.0L: Sports Luxury Engine Comparison

BMW has established its brand personae by edging toward the performance end of the luxury versus performance scale.  Mercedes traditionally leans toward the luxury end of the same spectrum.  Both BMW and Mercedes have released cars which pressed the boundaries of their traditional inclinations of course.  Cadillac has also released luxury performance models across the spectrum, from the speed demon super car sedan CTS-V to the sporty but efficient SRX SUV.

The mainstream Cadillac base engine in the CTS Family and 2010 SRX is the new 3.0 L VVT direct injection V6, the LF1.  The latest BMW 3.0L is not the normally aspirated 3L used in the BMW 3-series, but rather a related engine called N52B30 used in the X3 and X5 SUV’s making 260hp, and in the 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive30i subcompact convertible making 255 hp.

Let’s compare how the Cadillac engine stacks up with the Sporty BMW power plant.  I think everyone agrees that BMW knows how to make engines — the engine, along with the steering quality, get the most comments / compliments from the automotive press in BMW reviews.  So the question is, how well does the Cadillac LF1 Engine compare?


The 6-cylinder normally aspirated engine: powerful and light thanks to magnesium.

Offering spontaneous power and performance, excellent motoring refinement and outstanding efficiency, the 6-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine … offers the very best in its segment. Weighing just 355 lb thanks to its composite magnesium/aluminum crankcase, cylinder head cover made of a special synthetic material and lightweight camshafts with aluminum VANOS control unit, is exceptionally light.

While BMW’s VALVETRONIC engine management controls valve stroke on the intake valves, double-VANOS varies the angle of the intake and outlet valves in an infinite process. This allows particularly efficient use of fuel, providing a “beefy” torque curve and giving the engine instant response.

The engine in the BMW Z4 sDrive30i develops maximum output of 255 hp from 3.0 liters capacity at an engine speed of 6,600 rpm. Maximum torque of 220 lb-ft, in turn, comes at just 2,600 rpm.

The Cadillac LF1 3.0L: 2010 GM 3.0L V-6 VVT DI (LF1)

The 3.0L V-6 VVT DI LF1 is part of GM’s growing global family of V-6 engines. They were jointly developed for applications around the world, drawing on the best practices and creative expertise of GM technical centers in Australia, Germany, North America, and Sweden.

These engines apply the most advanced automotive engine technology available, from state-of-the-art casting processes to full four-cam phasing to ultra-fast data processing and torque-based engine management. Each delivers a market-leading balance of good specific output, high torque over a broad rpm band, fuel economy, low emissions and first-rate noise, vibration and harshness control, with exclusive durability enhancing features and very low maintenance.

Features of this engine include:

– Direct Injection Technology

– Aluminum engine block and cylinder heads

– Dual overhead cams with four valves per cylinder and silent chain cam drive

– Composite upper intake manifolds

– Integrated exhaust manifolds

– Optimized exhaust manifolds

– Fully isolated composite camshaft covers with added acoustic treatment

Engine Dyno for the Cadillac LF1 V6:

Comparative Stats:

Engine HP RPM Torque RPM
Cadillac LF1 (CTS) 270 7000 223 5700
BMW N52S30 (x3) 260 6600 225 2750


These two engines appear to have very similar performance.  The Cadillac puts out a bit more power, but the BMW is tuned for slightly more low-end torque.  Another factor to consider is that the BMW apparently requires premium fuel, while the Cadillac makes similar power using regular unleaded fuel.

#Cadillac & the 2-mode #Hybrid: #Green #Luxury

The Cadillac Escalade uses a 6L V8 engine with a 2-mode Hybrid power train.  With Cadillac thinking of releasing a 2-mode hybrid + 3.6L DI V6 in the upcoming XTS Platinum, let’s review how the 2-mode Hybrid system works.

2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

Operation:  In a 2-mode hybrid, compact and powerful electric motors are integrated into the transmission and work with traditional transmission gears and electronic controls to provide two modes or ranges of infinitely variable gear ratios. The input split mode is used for launching the vehicle from a stop, driving at low speeds and providing superior performance and moderate load trailer towing. The compound split mode is used primarily when the vehicle is at higher speeds to provide efficient cruising.

The drive modes alternate seamlessly between the input split mode and a compound split mode. In the input split mode the vehicle can operate on electric, mechanical or a combination of the two. The vehicle operates as a full hybrid when the engine is shut off at low speed and light loads, as leaving the engine off for extended periods of time and moving under electric power is key to reducing fuel consumption in stop and go traffic.

So, in other words, the vehicle can operate in electric-only mode at low speeds, or with light loads, or gasoline only mode for cruising, often with cylinder deactivation and other complementary technologies.  The hybrid powerplant uses regenerative braking and other techniques to recharge on the go.  A plug-in 2-mode hybrid can also recharge using standard wall current when available.

Under the hood shot of hybrid powerpack

A key contributor to the Escalade Hybrid’s fuel economy is the gasoline engine’s Auto Stop mode. Once the vehicle reaches 0 mph, the gasoline engine is automatically shut down. By leaving the engine off and allowing the vehicle to move only under electric power, such as during heavy stop-and-go traffic, fuel consumption is greatly reduced.

However, when extra power is required, such as for wide-open-throttle acceleration from a standing stop, the Vortec 6.0L V-8 is seamlessly restarted so it can deliver the necessary power and torque. In this case, the engine is restarted effortlessly from the Auto Stop mode using the EVT’s powerful internal electric motors; there is no traditional starter motor.

A 2-mode hybrid has a smaller powerpack than an extended range electric vehicle such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt or Cadillac Converj.  Press conjecture is that the Hybrid XTS concept may have enough powerplant to drive for 10 miles between recharges; the Volt or Converj should be able to go 40 miles between charges.  My daily commute of around 1 mile would be gas-free with a 2-mode hybrid XTS.

The mild-hybrid system in the Chevrolet Malibu offers a 4 mpg improvement over the non-hybrid Malibu.  So although Cadillac has not released any projections, the Cadillac XTS perhaps will get over 30 mpg on the highway EPA cycle — quite an achievement for a fullsize performance luxury sedan.

A plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle differs from non-plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles by offering extended electric-only propulsion, additional battery capacity and the ability to be recharged from an external electrical outlet.

When ready for production, the Lithium Ion energy storage system will be replenished when the battery charge is depleted to a specified level by utilizing the 2-mode hybrid system’s electric motors and regenerative braking systems. When the vehicle is parked, the battery can be recharged using a common household exterior 110-volt plug-in outlet.

2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept with Plug-in Hybrid and DI 3.6L V6

The 2-mode hybrid system will be altered for use with plug-in technology. It maintains two driving modes — one for city driving, the other for highway driving. In addition, special controls will be utilized to enable higher speeds during electric-only propulsion and maintain electric- only propulsion for longer periods of time.

GM has also stated the desire to produce a 2-mode hybrid or extended range electric version of the SRX. Expert CTS-V Review notes notes Joe Weisenfelder at got to take a 2009 CTS-V out on the course at New York’s private Monticello Motor Club and wrote about it here.

CTS-V grill

CTS-V grill

A few notable notes:

  • The CTS-V supercharger sound level is very subdued
  • Reasonable mpg during the test drive
  • Because the hardware can handle the torque, Cadillac uses no artificial torque management like low-gear throttle dialback
  • Overall, you really feel like you’re driving the CTS-V, and that’s not necessarily true of some extremely capable performance cars

The CTS-V continues a pattern of positive reviews.  Cadillac has not formally announced pricing, but the whispered starting price of just under $60K seems to fit well within most people’s model for bang for the buck. 

The press is still in the honeymoon phase with the new CTS-V, so we’ll see how it fares once the head-to-head comparisons are ready.   I have little doubt in the new Cadillac’s abilities, but little faith that it will always be judged on a fair playing field.