There is no mistaking the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe for any other car on the road. Since Cadillac adopted its signature Art and Science design philosophy nearly a decade ago, it has assured that the brand's vehicles have a style all their own, so while the CTS Coupe has the handling and performance credentials to be mentioned in the same company as highly regarded models like the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A5, it is its looks, inside and out that set it apart from a value point of view. The coupe's design first surfaced as a proposal within Cadillac's dedicated design studio, became a well-received concept car at the North American International Auto Show in 2008 and has now been translated into a four-passenger two-door that can be equipped with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.

2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe Driving Impression

Long gone is the wallowy, pillow-soft ride that used to characterize Cadillacs. Long gone is the vague, over-assisted steering the brand used to favor. Though European sport sedans fans might have a difficult time

believing it, the Cadillac CTS Coupe has the precise steering and taut handling that have characterized the best Eurosedans through the years. That being said, the CTS Coupe does feel bigger than the BMW 3 Series Coupe and Audi A5 largely because it is heavier, longer overall and has a longer wheelbase. But the plus is the CTS Coupe offers a 304-horsepower direct-injection V6 engine that delivers serious acceleration, aided and abetted by a six-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control. (A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but our guess is that few dealers will stock them.)

Of course, the low-volume, high-performance 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe that we have yet to test takes performance to a completely different level with its 556-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8, but we think the V6-equipped CTS Coupe will be a very pleasant surprise to enthusiast drivers, while not alienating long-time Cadillac fans. Those seeking boulevard ride at the expense of precise handling should look for a CTS equipped with the base "Performance Package" with 18-inch wheels and all-season tires. The "Summer Tire Performance Package" with 19-inch tires and wheels ups the handling ability but at the expense of ride comfort.

Cadillac CTS Coupe Design

The Cadillac CTS Coupe is no lookalike. Cadillac remains committed to the sharp folds and creases of its Art and Science design theme, which has come to characterize this generation of Cadillacs in much the same way the tailfin did in the Fifties and Sixties. The Coupe's exterior offers hardtop styling so the side glass appears to be a single expanse. Adding to the sleek look are the touchpads that substitute for the conventional door handles, the "faster" less vertical windshield and the nearly horizontal rear window. The dramatic roofline is followed by large vertical taillamps, another Cadillac signature. The CTS Coupe's interior design theme is a refinement of the sedan's with emphasis on tasteful ornamentation and hand-crafted details. The instrument panel offers hand-cut, hand-sewn and hand-wrapped coverings with French stitching, and the heated and ventilated front seats use "thin-seat" technology for improved rear leg, knee and foot room.

Cadillac CTS Coupe Safety

The headline on the safety front is the use of a "dual depth" passenger-side airbag, a first in the segment. The CTS Coupe also offers a dual-stage driver's side airbag, driver and passenger-side seat-mounted pelvic/thorax side air bags and side-curtain airbags that cover both rows. Other safety features include, Stabilitrak stability and traction control, daytime running lamps, auto lamps, programmable power door locks, a theft-deterrent system and one year of OnStar security and convenience service with turn-by-turn navigation and automatic crash response.

Cadillac CTS Coupe Bottomline

The Cadillac CTS Coupe has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price starting around $39,000, which is slightly higher than the base BMW 3 Series Coupe and the Audi A5, but the Cadillac offers significantly more horsepower. The Cadillac CTS Coupe is a worthy competitor to the top European luxury coupes. Some might like its more substantial size, while others might still prefer the precision feel of the European offerings.

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