First Drive: 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

The long wait for a world-class Caddy coupe is over.

by on Jun.21, 2010

Cadillac's 2011 CTS Coupe is the latest addition to its "entry" luxury line-up. A high-performance version, the CTS-V Coupe, will follow.

Cadillac’s burgeoning family of CTS-branded vehicles, the original four-door sedan, the high-performance CTS-V sedan, and the slick CTS sport wagon, now includes a radically edgy coupe.

It’s been a long wait.  Caddy’s last true coupe, the Eldorado, went out of production in 2002.

Is it different from the CTS sedan?  Yes, and in more than a few key places and dimensions.

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The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe is virtually identical to the concept vehicle shown at the Detroit auto show in January 2008.  The 2-door’s wheelbase is the same as the sedan’s, but the roofline is two inches lower, the body is two inches shorter, and the rear track has been widened by two inches compared to the existing sedan, to plant those big tires.  The windshield rake angle is much steeper than the sedan’s, at 62.3 degrees, and the rear window is nearly flat when viewed from the side.

The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe shares the same platform and wheelbase as the CTS sedan, but is lower and sleeker.

The rear end treatment features a centered dual-exhaust outlet under the bumper that complements all of the other sharp angles on the car.  In order to have good ingress/egress into the back seat, the coupe’s doors are as long as a summer day in June.

But be warned before you go looking.  There are no traditional door handles outside or inside; instead, the CTS Coupe uses the electrically operated push-button openers adapted from the Chevrolet Corvette.

In spite of the very fast look of the coupe, the actual drag coefficient number is high for a sporty 2-door, and high in this class, at just under 0.36, when some of the competition is down to a Cd of around 0.26.

There is only one engine available, a 304 horsepower, 273 foot-pound 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 with dual overhead camshafts and 24 valves.  The engine can be combined with one of two 6-speed transmissions, an Aisin manual or a Hydra-Matic automatic with manual shift control.

The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe shares the sedan's 304-horsepower 3.6-liter V6.

To get more acceleration out of the engine, which is shared with the sedan, the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe gets a lower 3.73:1 rear axle ratio.  The Caddy Coupe comes in a standard rear-drive layout, with computer-controlled all-wheel-drive optional.

The CTS Coupe goes on sale in August at a starting price of $38,990.  It’s aimed at an assortment of tough competitors, like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe, the BMW 335i coupe, the Audi A5, and the Infiniti G37 coupe.  So, to improve its appeal, the 2011 Caddy Coupe comes with an armada of standard equipment including ABS, traction control, StabiliTrak yaw control, 18-inch alloy wheels and three-season P235/50VR-18 tires, an AM/FMXM/CD/MP3 8-speaker Bose sound system, a one-year subscription to OnStar with navigation, directions and connections, and a new warranty, 4/50 on the car, 5/100 on the powertrain.  There’s also free scheduled maintenance, courtesy transportation and roadside assistance.

The interior package is largely the same on the CTS Coupe and CTS sedan.

Major options on the car will include all-wheel drive, a P245/45ZR-19 front and P27540R-19 rear Continental summer tire performance package with 19-inch polished alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential, heated and cooled front seats, Sapele wood trim, and LED interior lighting as a package, a power sunroof, navigation, a 40GB hard drive for music storage, keyless access, remote starting, xenon HID adaptive front lamps, a rear vision camera and a universal home remote.

Load a 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe up with all the available features and you’ll push the price closer to $50,000.

In a brief driving experience over the course of two days in around California’s Napa Valley wine country, the CTS Coupe offered only a few surprises.  The 3900-pound coupe performed pretty much like the CTS V-6 sedan, but quicker off the mark, with a good, solid V-6 engine note at full throttle, relatively quick upshifts and downshifts from the automatic and its steering wheel-mounted shifter paddles, and a reassuringly buttoned-down feel when it came to sticking to the asphalt.

A high-performance 556-horsepower version, the CTS-V Coupe, is the next offering on the Cadillac product line-up.

The chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel leads down to a power steering system that feels connected and commanding, quick to turn in, and a slightly harsher ride than we were expecting, but one that was by no means objectionable.

The brakes came on powerfully and progressively whenever one of Napa’s ever-present work trucks pulled out of a winery driveway.

We give the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe high marks for fit, finish, materials, and especially its interior design, which differs not one jot from the sedan’s – something we’re happy to see since we love the look of the second-generation sedan’s interior.

We’ll see how it performs on the rutted roads of’s Michigan home when we get hold of one for a full week of testing and evaluation later in the year.

The next step in Cadillac’s evolution will come a couple of months down the road when the 556-horsepower V-8-powered and fat-tired CTS-V coupe is added to the CTS family.  If you somehow have missed the heavy rotation on network and cable television, Caddy bills the CTS-V as the world’s fastest production sedan.

When it comes, the CTS-V Coupe will bring with it the sedan’s huge Brembo brakes, GM’s magnetic ride control shock absorbers – and a price tag of $62,990.

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