Cadillac's new midsize luxury sport sedan has some serious competition ahead.
Cadillac had a simple choice to make: abandon sedans to focus on crossovers and SUVs or give its sedans a fresh attitude. It wisely opted for the latter. Yet Cadillac has had a hard time establishing itself as a major player in the luxury sports sedan sector. Its German rivals have defined the segment but Cadillac has been known for having some tricks up its sleeves. Having access to parent company GM's platforms and engines has countless benefits. First revealed last spring at the 2019 New York Auto Show, the 2020 Cadillac CT5 serves as the replacement for the CTS. While the CTS earned wide praise, it lacked design charisma and a more youthful appeal.
The CT5, by contrast, has more dynamic styling and, to Cadillac's credit, a fastback body style for a more coupe-like silhouette. The question is whether the CT5 packs enough luxury, performance, and refinement to compete with the best.
Notice something about the CT5? Yes, that's a fastback design, which is directly inspired by the Escala concept from a few years back. Instead of the traditional three-box sedan design layout, Cadillac rightly wanted to stand out from the rest of the pack. A fastback body style refers to when the roof slopes down at the back. This also offers some aerodynamic advantages. Riding on an updated version of GM's Alpha rear-wheel-drive platform, the very same setup underpinning the current sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro, the CT5 sports a 116-inch wheelbase and lengthened side glass that helps to accentuate its long, low proportions. Other notable highlights include the sculptured body panels and all-LED lighting with vertical lights at all four corners.
Luxury and Premium trims feature bright exterior accents and unique grilles and fascias. Meanwhile, the Sport trim has darker accents and some performance-inspired details, like its own grille design, rocker extensions, rear spoiler, and standard 19-inch wheels.
Cadillac does not want to scare away its most loyal customers with radically altered interior designs, though younger buyers are essential. What to do? Keep the dashboard design straight-forward, yet sporty and elegant, and pack in plenty of technology. With seating for up to five, CT5 passengers will instantly notice the large 10-inch high-definition diagonal touchscreen mounted high within the instrument cluster for better visibility. All basic functions can be done via the touchscreen itself or via a rotary controller located on the center console. Plenty of convenience features come standard, including Adaptive Remote Start and a cabin air purification ionizer.
Those who opt for the Premium Luxury and Sport trims can also tack on the Platinum Package featuring a Sedona/Jet Black motif with semi-aniline leather seating. Heated, ventilated, and lumbar massage 18-way adjustable seats are also included. Leather-trimmed armrests and center console, and carbon fiber trim provide an even more upscale look and feel. Even the steering wheel has a thicker rim with magnesium paddle shifters at both sides.
Those hoping to see a big V8 under the hood will be disappointed. However, smaller engines are capable of producing lots of power these days. The CT5 comes standard with a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo four with a so far unannounced output. In the larger CT6, however, this same engine produces 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Those who desire even more power can opt for the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with an estimated output of 335 hp and 400 lb-ft. Both engines are paired to a 10-speed automatic that sends power to the rear wheels. All-wheel drive is available on all CT5 trims. Bear in mind that because the CT5 is built on a stretched version of the same RWD platform underpinning the Chevy Camaro, it is technically possible to slot a V8 under the hood.
This RWD architecture allows for an exhilarated driving experience when so desired thanks to the inclusion of a double-pivot MacPherson-type front suspension and a five-link independent suspension at the rear. Brembo front brakes come as standard on the Sport model. Drivers can select from four different modes, Tour, Sport, Snow/Ice, and My Mode, for altering vehicle calibrations in terms of shifting, steering, and brake feel.
Set to face off against the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the 2020 Cadillac CT5 can try and gain an advantage with competitive pricing. Cadillac has only released pricing for the 2.0 liter models so far, with the "base" Luxury starting at $36,895. The mid-range Premium Luxury begins at $40,695, while the Sport can be had from $41,695. These prices don't include the destination and handling fee. All-wheel drive is a $2,600 premium.
To compare, the latest 3 Series runs from $41,245, the A4 from $40,195, and the C-Class from $41,400. Not only does the CT5 undercut all three, but also the model it replaces, the CTS, which started at $46,995. Expected in Cadillac dealerships shortly, the CT5 has an important role to play in the brand's future and, hopefully, will offer everything the CTS does in terms of build quality, engineering, and performance only with a more dynamic design, handling capabilities, and value.