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.

Re: Powersteering – 2010 Cadillac SRX |

Photo: did a nice summary review of the new 2010 Cadillac SRX:

Ripping pages from the play books of BMW and Lexus, Cadillac layers its trademark Art and Science design cues over a new, smaller, more athletic SRX for 2010. The previous version of the SRX didn’t strike a chord with the luxury SUV buying public, if sales are a reliable indicator. Equipped with a long wheelbase and impressive road manners, the first-generation SRX could be equipped with a third-row seat and an optional V-8 engine. But now, as environmental responsibility and tough new EPA fuel economy standards are affecting vehicle design and engineering, and as Cadillac creates a portfolio of globally viable models, the redesigned 2010 SRX is downsized. It can carry up to five passengers in a cabin trimmed with upscale materials, like BMW and Lexus. It offers a firm ride, quick steering, and athletic handling, like BMW. And based on the performance of the previous SRX, this new model’s predicted reliability score is better than most vehicles on the market, like Lexus. Powersteering – 2010 Cadillac SRX |

I think they really get that the new SRX is well tuned to its target market, and the early terrific sales numbers reflect that.  If you want an SRX, you need to get one on order.  They are great looking vehicles inside and out.

The photo model, in Crystal Red Tintcoat, is one of my favorite Cadillac colors.  The base color is red, and the clearcoat is also tinted red, which adds to the depth & luster.  It is a premium Cadillac color available at extra cost, but well worth it.

2009 Cadillac CTS-V Comparison Tests – Car and Driver

Car & Driver tested a Cadillac CTS-V vs a Jaguar XFR vs a Mercedes E63; they pick the Mercedes 1st, the Cadillac 2nd, and the Jaguar 3rd:

All other things being equal, if the CTS-V had been equipped with an [available] automatic transmission like the two other cars here it might have tied the Benz in overall points. How, you ask? A six-speed automatic V we tested in April for CARand managed the quarter-mile in 12.2 seconds, 0.4 second quicker than both the manual in this comparo and the one from our November 2008 road test. The difference would have tipped the quarter-mile-acceleration score in the Caddy’s favor.

Read more: 2009 Cadillac CTS-V Comparison Tests – Car and Driver.

This probably is the best summary:

Even with the muted soundtrack, our usually home-team-loyal German correspondent quickly deemed the Cadillac to be the sportiest-feeling car of our trio and one that, at $67,345, undercuts the test’s second-priciest Jaguar by more than $12,500. It will cost you about $8000 more than the Jag to start looking at the Mercedes…

Despite the disparate window stickers, everything else—horsepower, weight, terrible fuel economy, even tire width—is nearly identical in this group. Even the acceleration to 100 mph ended up in a three-way tie.

The three cars are very close in mission, performance, and luxury.  The Cadillac manages to achieve it all for $12K – 20K less cash.