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2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe Review

To my neighbors: I’m sorry. While you were spending the weekend industriously raking your yards and prettifying your homesteads at the close of daylight savings, I was driving. Can you blame me? We’ve already had our first frost. It won’t be long before the snow flies and ice crystals spread like winter mushrooms.

When the driveway is occupied by a 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe with the $2,090 performance suspension package (summer-only 19-inch tires, stiffer shocks and springs, paddle shifters) you’ve got to seize those last, gasping sunny days before the precip buries the remnants of the hostas.

And so that’s why I was out well after dark on Sunday night, bagging leaves. I wasn’t upset, though. I got the better end of the deal, because any Cadillac CTS is a great car to drive, espeicially with that up-rated suspension.

The generally unrealistic opinions of automotive journalists are nearly universally over the moon for this car. It’s great-looking, with a raked collection of sharp creases and suggested speed. Everyone went loopy when the CTS Coupe hit the auto show circuit, and its unabashed swagger does have presence. I swell with jingoistic pride when I take in the CTS Coupe. Here is a car that has talons as sharp as its rival German warbirds, and yet hails from the land where Lee Greenwood is allowed to write anthems of the proletariat.

The unanointed filthy masses that actually put cash down to purchase the cars dirt-poor autowriters prattle on about may find themselves less enraptured.

Heresy?

As delightful as the CTS Coupe is for car guys, it’s likely to aggravate the crap out of people looking for a stylish coupe that just plain works.

What could possibly be wrong with a car that looks so right? Corvette door hardware. These are sort of neat, they operate a solenoid that releases the door, but nearly everyone fumbled and swore at them. Getting out of the CTS is further cause for cursing. The interior thumb button isn’t immediately apparent, and those seconds of searching can get a runaway claustrophobic panic started.

Yes, I really am bitching about the door handles. While I’m at it, the puny back seat is a torture chamber for adults with legs, but if you wanted a CTS Taxi, you’d buy the four-door. Right. So why is it that other coupes have front seats that cooperatively tuck out of the way and don’t choke you with a sadistic seatbelt that thinks it’s a guillotine? Is this picky? Perhaps, or maybe there are just a few disappointingly-executed elements in the CTS Coupe.

Visibility also suffers thanks to that gorgeous roofline. I’m just about done.

The CTS Coupe is fairly brilliant to drive. It’s one hell of a good-handling car, egging you on through every curve. It’s got the reflexes to handle maneuvers that test its transient responses, too. Back-to-back linked turns are no problem. The CTS Coupe locks on to a line and smoothly transitions with nicely-weighted steering that’s had the friction oiled out of it. There’s some increased stiffness with the more capable suspension, but you should expect that when you select the option. The Lincoln Town Car is your ride if you want to drive a weak-kneed American luxury marque.

The brakes are capable, too, though you need to adjust to the dead travel in the pedal. I overshot a few turns because I hadn’t scrubbed off as much speed as I thought, scaring passenger and oncomings. The engine’s 304 hp from 3.6 liters is enough, but the V6 wants to rev, and I would rather have tire-boiling torque and a V8 rumble. The CTS Coupe needs an LS V8 as standard equipment.

That’s about it for gripes. With the Premium Collection trim, the CTS Coupe I drove was $51,000 and didn’t feel overpriced. The dashboard is padded and stitched. Ergonomics are easy, though there is a cluster of buttons hiding behind the steering wheel spokes on the left. The navigation system rises up like a monument to how poorly developed your sense of direction is. This is a nicely turned out interior that needs no excuses.

That’s how the CTS Coupe operates. It makes no apologies, and if you complain, it turns its handsome mug at you and says “Hey, you don’t like it, go somewhere else.” That’s the same thing I should have said to my neighbors as I got dirty looks leaving my unkempt lawn. So what if the leaves blew back on to your perfectly manicured fescue? I was driving.


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