The 2008 Cadillac CTS’s performance didn’t disappoint any of the reviews we read, and reviewers were positively beaming about the CTS’s handling. It “drives like a proper BMW rival,” said Motor Trend, and Car and Driver ventured that “the CTS is more comfortable than a Sport-package-equipped BMW 3-series or Infiniti G35 without giving up much ultimate performance.” ForbesAutos.com commended the crisp steering and excellent road feel, and said that even at the limits of grip, the suspension brings predictable and forgiving behavior.
Edmunds tested a 2008 Cadillac CTS with the stiffest FE3 suspension, also optioned up with the Y43 package, which includes 18-inch wheels and Y-rated Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 summer performance tires. “This CTS's high-performance Michelin PS2 tires are standard equipment on some Porsches, and they have much to do with the way this car feels and performs,” they said, also making note of the CTS’s especially short stopping distances and great pedal feel.
Even with the top 304-hp engine, the 2008 Cadillac CTS is slower than competitors with similar power outputs, reported Edmunds, “likely due to the fact that it weighs about 300 pounds more than the BMW 335i and Lexus IS350.” But ForbesAutos.com said, “While it doesn’t bubble with enthusiasm when revving to its 7,000-rpm redline, it delivers more than enough energy to hustle this nearly 4,000-pound sedan along with gusto.”
A number of reviewers also noted that premium fuel is recommended for the direct-injection engine, but better fuel economy may be a bonus perk. ConsumerGuide tested both 3.6-liter engines and found that the direct injection engine provided significantly higher gas mileage.
Testers unanimously liked the six-speed automatic transmission, which was commended for having great shift quality that was smooth during leisurely driving and snappy in high-performance situations. Car and Driver said that in the transmission’s sport setting, “it quickly gets bold, dutifully holding gears...and aggressively downshifting under braking.” CNET confirmed that the transmission has been programmed to downshift depending on how hard you brake going into a corner and not upshift in corners, which made the 2008 Cadillac CTS especially enjoyable to drive on the track.
Car and Driver also tested the six-speed manual transmission but said that abrupt shift action, an abruptly engaging clutch pedal, and a high center console all detracted from the experience, and said that “even with a new shift linkage for shorter throws, the manual isn’t nearly as fluid as those from BMW.”