Ah, Cadillac, the apex brand of domestic luxury for more than a century, even after a post-war dip when its cachet seemed to slide from its presidential highs. After the demise of Elvis and white-belted leisure suits, after depictions in mobster movies and monumental burials at the Cadillac ranch, the brand still strives to redesign and redefine its future.
So, a sport sedan Cadillac. Why not?
The CT4 recently replaced the ATS, part of an evolution that blends driving strengths with luxury, amenities and the latest technologies in a compact, entry-lux priced package with a distinctly alternative American flavour.
That unique styling comes courtesy of the almost muscle car-like swellings of rear-wheel drive architecture, the coupe-like swoop of roof line and smooth curvature aesthetically accented by sharp creases and character lines.
Every car on the road uses horizontal shapes to suggest width and stability but Cadillac counters with the exaggerated vertical lines of DRLs and tail lamps on the CT4’s four corners, bejeweled highlights that are a subliminal throwback to a tail fin era of glories past.
The 2021 CT4 comes in Luxury, Sport and Premium Luxury trims that span a $36,000-$42,000 price range. No, I’m not forgetting the CT4-V ($45,998) or the newly revealed CT4-V Blackwing sibling ($67,198) destined to debut later this summer, but let’s leave them as a higher performance category, deserving their own story.
Luxury and Sport models start with the entry-level 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder (237 hp, 258 lb-ft) mated to an 8-speed automatic in either base rear wheel-drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) configuration ($2,200).
Our CT4 Premium Luxury AWD tester puts more power to the pavement with the optional 2.7-litre Dual Volute turbo engine (310 hp, 350 lb-ft) that comes connected to a 10-speed automatic. The torque peaks early and eagerly between 1,500-4,000 r.p.m. And while the engine note is more of a mechanical mishmash than a baritone moan, that muscle hustles you up to speed in a 4.8 sec 0-96 km acceleration time, lopping a second and a half off the 2.0-litre’s time, while engine efficiencies and the Auto Stop/Start system maintain a still respectable fuel econ rating of 11.4L/8.2L/100km (city/hwy). My real-world results averaged out to 91L/100km (comb).
The engine power is backed by the joint efforts of MacPherson strut front and Five-Link rear suspension units, a well-balanced front/rear weight distribution, strong four-wheel disc ABS braking, taut electrical rack & pinion steering and a Driver Mode system with Tour, Sport and Snow/Ice modes, along with a customizable My Mode setting that lets drivers configure their own steering, shifting and performance preferences.
Inside, this CT4 Premium Luxury model meets posh expectations with an attractive Cinnamon/Jet Black leather treatment, one of four interior palette choices. The tan and black two-tone combo is particularly handsome with white contrast stitching on the tan seats and door trim, orange stitches on the black elements and with just enough silvery metallic and piano black hints to accent the driver-centric design.
There’s plenty of redundancy built into the control layout, managed through touch screen access atop the centre stack or HVAC buttons below, a volume and tuning knob under the display as God intended or, if you’re too entitled to lift your elbow, a rotary infotainment controller, extra volume knob and buttons that fall to hand on the console, as well as the usual steering wheel controls and shifter paddles to enhance the CT4’s performance vibe. Wireless phone charging is a nice and now expected feature.
The compact cabin is snugly comfortable up front with seats that rack back to straight-legged stretch-out room, almost butting up against a second row that, even with compromise and an indented headliner, barely provides do-able seating for adults. The trunk opens to over 300 litres of luggage room with an added cubby on the passenger side, a battery access door on the driver’s side and some underfloor storage nooks.
This as-tested upscale 2021 CT4 Premium Luxury AWD ($39,998) packs a healthy list of included amenities and techs, with added extras contributing to the $10K worth of options. The bulk of the options bill come from the power choices – the 2.7-litre turbo engine ($2,875), AWD ($2,200) – bolstered by charges for the power sunroof ($1,295) and Navigation/BOSE premium surround sound 14-speaker audio ($1,440).
And, finally, standing on upsized 18-inch Diamond Cut/Midnight Silver alloy wheels ($695), our tester came wrapped in an elegant Crystal White Tricoat ($1,395).
The sport sedan segment, once the preserve of nimble performers owned by eclectic Europhile drivers in flat caps and tweed, isn’t quite what it used to be. The BMWs and Audis that initially broke ground for the niche are now more ubiquitous than unique, road rarities no more. Sport sedans have become the realm of well-heeled status seekers, unconcerned with acceleration and apexes, barely able to keep their cars on the road while texting and checking stock portfolios.
So, yes, there’s enough room for an American interpretation of a sporty executive sedan, a CT4 for drivers not ready to be relegated to clunkier crossovers and SUVs, a car that blends traditional Cadillac cues and crests with up to date techs, amenities and enough performance mojo to satisfy any sport sedan fan.
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.