Cadillac CTS Coupe: First RideS

Cadillac's chiseled, sexy CTS coupe surprised everyone when it debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in 2007. Now we've gotten an exclusive first ride. Is GM's latest baby everything we had hoped?

Cadillac CTS Coupe: First Ride

Since its inception, the CTS line has rewritten the Cadillac tome, maturing the division's "Art & Science" design theme into something handsome and instantly recognizable. The second-generation CTS, introduced in 2008, erased all memory of the dowdy Catera; the CTS-V which followed blew our skirts up, annihilating any lingering notions of Cadillac as an old man's car. The wagon proved Detroit five-doors don't have to be frumpy.

And now we have this. And oh — oh — is it hot.

We recently wrangled some right-seat time in a production-intent CTS Coupe. The car belongs to Cadillac communications manager Nick Twork and is the seventh to roll off the production line in Lansing.

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The attention we received was mind-blowing. We stopped twice during our half-hour drive, once for gas and once to take pictures, and both times we were set upon like a wheat field in a swarm of locusts. There were honks in traffic, people asking how much and when, and many, many cameraphone pictures. We haven't seen this kind of reaction to a car since the debut of the Dodge Challenger, and that response was arguably less impressive — the Dodge is steeped in nostalgia and has a ready-made fan base, while the Cadillac is a new and polarizing design. The CTS's man that's got a big ass styling, which appears so odd on a show stand, looks brutish and purposeful on the street — it's like somebody at Hot Wheels defected to GM and got a design through the approval process before anyone noticed.

Cadillac CTS Coupe: First RideS


At first glance, the coupe looks wildly impractical, a stark contrast to its more traditionally packaged bretheren. Just look at those C-pillars and the high belt line — it must be impossible to see out of, right? Not really. If you've been in a CTS before, you'll find familiar territory, subtly tweaked for two-door use. The coupe gets its headliner color matched to its upper dash trim, a pushbutton door release borrowed from the Corvette, and a heated steering wheel. The front seats have been redesigned to flip forward and feel more supportive. The trunk offers a surprisingly large opening; you don't so much drop things into the boot as slide them in horizontally.

Cadillac CTS Coupe: First RideS


Let's be honest here: a "first ride" is a gimmick, especially with an early-build model like this one and a car still being broken in. Forming opinions on a car you haven't driven may seem silly, but there's no denying first impressions, however small, matter.

On balance, the CTS Coupe reminds us of a regular CTS, as it should. It's a comfortable balance between sport and luxury, and it doesn't bash you over the head with technology. The direct-injected 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic get the job done, but knowing

Cadillac CTS Coupe: First Ride

the CTS-V coupe is on its way makes 304 hp feel like a nonevent.

What this car does is offer a machine for people who want to be seen. The CTS coupe is a stare magnet, and that's a niche Cadillac hasn't occupied for some time. When you consider the last coupe the division built was the 2002 El Dorado — a front-wheel-drive, torque-steering pinup for everything wrong with the brand — the evolution is shocking. The CTS coupe has swagger and sex nailed. We can't wait until it gets 556 hp and we get behind the wheel.