2006 Cadillac STS-V by TCC Team (4/9/2006)
Driven to thrill.
The new BLS is being billed as “more than a car, it’s a Cadillac.” Well perhaps. While the sedan does carry Caddy’s familiar wreath-and-crest badge, and though it does have the edgy lines of the division’s Art-and-Science design theme, the front-drive BLS is, under the skin, a Saab 9-3, built at the Swedish maker’s assembly line in Trollhattan.
Whether the BLS will be treated as an intriguing new option or dismissed as little more than a poseur remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt that Caddy’s dreams of global growth will rise or fall on the little sedan’s success.
“It’s going to instrumental, around the world, exposing new customers to the new face of Cadillac,” says GM’s global car czar, Bob Lutz.
The challenge, Lutz feels, is “educating” potential European customers about the dramatic changes in design, performance, and technology that have reshaped the Cadillac division in recent years. Analyst David Healy, of Burnham Securities, agrees. The image of the American brand, he suggests, is that of gun-toting gangsters, driving massive, finned machines, “much too big for American roads.”
The fins are gone, and the BLS is nearly small enough to fit inside the cargo compartment of Caddy’s biggest model, the Escalade ESV. The Saab-derived sedan does echo the edgy styling of the reborn American lineup, asserted Cadillac product director John Howell. But it’s the first-ever Cadillac equipped with a turbodiesel — among its four different powertrain options. That’s a must in the European market, where diesels now account for about half of all motor vehicle sales, and close to 60 percent in the luxury segment.
So, adds analyst Healy, “this has
a better chance than most of the other” attempts Cadillac has made to break out
It’s not that the
In Europe, second only to the
The initial European reaction to the BLS has been cautiously positive.
TheCarConnection’s British-based reviewer, Richard Yarrow said, “the BLS actually feels better built than its more expensive siblings,” concluding that while the new Caddy won’t knock the Germans off the top of the sales charts, “For customers looking for something a bit different it’s worth considering.”
The Saab-based sedan is only part
of Caddy’s growth strategy. In
In the long run, many industry
analysts believe Caddy can no longer continue tinkering with global expansion.
In an industry where even high-line makers, such as Lexus and Mercedes-Benz,
must constantly consider economies of scale, Cadillac is at a serious
disadvantage focusing only the