Between the Lines: AutoWeek on the 2009 Cadillac CTS

I'm not a big fan of bait and switch. For example, Automobile's June cover features the Bugatti Veyron's bodacious butt with the tease "Coast to Coast in the USA." In fact, Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings drove the Bug from one side of Florida to the other. AutoWeek's editors may not practice this kind of morally reprehensible despicably dishonest deceit, but there's no question that they're willing to skirt the line between what they know we want and what they've actually got. Dozens of AW covers promise readers the inside dope on the latest four-wheeled crack — only to throw down a couple of pages of Photoshop fantasy with a bit of tarted-up conjecture. Jenis Meiners' WORLD EXCLUSIVE on the '09 Cadillac CTS Coupe is a perfect case in point.

Cadillac plans to re-enter the coupe segment with a powerfully-styled CTS-based two-door, possibly by 2008 as a 2009 model.

Cadillac had hoped to keep the lid on the project, which was pushed back because of General Motors's financial situation. The program has not been officially approved, but work is well under way — and "Bob Lutz really wants it," sources familiar with the project tell AutoWeek. "The biggest problem for this car is GM has other, more urgent business to take care of right now.


So, the cover's proclamation — "Caddy set to Battle in Hot Two-Door Market" — isn't 100% accurate. Caddy plans to build the CTS Coupe but... the project isn't approved. But work's underway! GM's Car Czar wants it! But he can't have it, at least not yet, 'cause GM doesn't have the money. Or it DOES have the money, but it's kinda busy, you know, sorting out the whole bankruptcy thing. But the CTS Coupe will definitely be built for 2008! Maybe. Admittedly, that wouldn't make for a really catchy (or particularly succinct) headline. But something along the lines of "The Coupe Caddy Needs to Build" would've been a more honest approach.

Obviously, getting to the truth of the matter isn't Meiners' main priority. First, Meiners' sources are patently fictional. "Bob Lutz really wants it," is the kind of made-up quote that belongs in a National Enquirer article on the secret sex life of septuagenarian auto execs. The clunky sentence construction used by the "sources" (not source) "familiar with the project" (but not directly involved) screams invention, along with that vague statement about "other" (what?) "more urgent" (such as?) business supposedly sucking-up GM's development cash.

As Foucault's Pendulum taught us, sometimes strange fiction turns out to be stranger fact. If AW's invisible friends are right, if GM can't afford to develop the new Caddy coupe because it lacks the cash, that's a HUGE story. (Either that or it lacks the brains; Caddy introduced the CTS four years ago, in 2002.) Oh wait. I forgot. AutoWeek's editorial department lives in an alternative universe. The single most important story in the automotive industry doesn't exist — save for a couple of columns that were about as urgent in tone as an episode of "Martha Stewart Living"; maybe less.

Cadillac's coupe will be based on the upcoming, second-generation CTS sedan, which was partially unveiled April 2 by GM vice chairman Lutz on the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes. On the program, Lutz pulled back a car cover revealing a dramatic Cadillac grille and headlight cluster, along with a taillight, but stopped short of showing the rest of the car. Now that our spies have snapped these photographs of the actual next-generation CTS in testing, it is obvious the car Lutz showed on 60 Minutes was the 2008 CTS.

So what was all that about Cadillac hoping to "keep the lid" on the CTS Coupe? Did someone forget to tell Maximum Bob? Or did Maximum Bob forget that someone told him? In any case, Meiners keeps blanking-out on the fact (remember those?) that GM hasn't green-lighted the CTS. Call it triumph of the will.
The same V6 engines offered in the CTS will power the coupe, but a V-Series coupe with a 400-hp-plus Northstar V8 is likely as well. Cadillac also is mulling a convertible version. "It would add cost, but convertibles are where the volume is generated in this segment," says a source.

For those of you who share my hatred of passive construction, Meiners provides the single best/worst example we've ever encountered in a car mag: a passivity that could be cured with a simple juxtaposition. "Also is" is bad, methinks.

Anyway, if you're inventing sources, it's a good idea to dream one up who knows what he's talking about. Discounting folding hardtops, there's only one coupe that outsells the hardtop version by a large margin: the Jaguar XK. But hey, I admire Meiners' Deep Throat's balls (so to speak).

While the CTS-based coupe could be developed quickly, there is speculation of a larger coupe with a V12 engine that carries design cues of the Cadillac Sixteen concept car and could be sold in the $75,000 range.

Now that's what I call a pipe dream. Again, Meiners' made-up possibility is actually what Caddy should be doing, or could be doing (if there's a product God in heaven). But it's journalistically irresponsible to put your own advice into an imaginary source's mouth. Think I'm making it up about Meiners making stuff up? Check this:

"The new vehicle is definitely a Cadillac," an insider says. "There is a lot of enthusiasm for it within the company." GM can probably expect that enthusiasm to extend to fans of the marque who appreciate its history."

Fans like... Jens Meiners? If that doesn't smell like phantasmagorical bullshit to you, you need to spend a little more time in the countryside. Anyway, it's bad enough that AutoWeek kisses ass and pulls punches in its car reviews. But allowing a journo to weasel his or her way through a puff piece clearly labeled "news" is just plain wrong. [by Robert Farago]

[Jalopnik's Between the Lines column parses the rhetoric of the automotive industry, and the media that covers it, from the point of view of that kid at the back of the class with ADD, a genius IQ and a thirst for mayhem.]

Related:
Between the Lines: Motor Trend on the Cadillac BLS [internal]