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View the cars in our FastSaloons' Fleet Search Visit our Forum   Contact Us Cadillac BLS road testDate:10/05/2006   (Click Here for more details).OurRoadTests review of the Cadillac BLS (1.9D and 2.8)


Cadillac BLS (1.9D and 2.8)

Our Thoughts
The Yanks are coming - actually they've been coming for a while. But now they're getting serious.

Can they compete or are they still wide of the mark?


When I was asked to cover the launch of the new Cadillac I of course said yes. What with Cadillac being the old market leader of luxury cars in America. But then I did start to wonder. Why are they going to start importing them big old executive buses into the UK? Can they sell them? Is there really a market? I know we see a lot of limos about nowadays, but can this market really be expanded? The only other option is that Cadillac has got something new up their sleeves. Well, as you will see I was wrong on a lot of counts and first impressions can certainly be wrong.

Cadillac has, in fact, been in Europe selling their new range of cars for over a year on a small scale. For the record 2100 Caddys were sold in 2005. And now they have the BLS to as they say ‘power into Europe’. Cadillac will only have 19 dealerships in the UK by the end of 2006. This making the Cadillac a bit exclusive. The BLS is even more so, designed just for the overseas market (UK and Europe) and built in GM’s Plant in Sweden.

The BLS is not as all new as it may sound. As Cadillac is part of General Motors they have access to their vast parts bin. So, for the BLS, they have borrowed the floor pan and engines from the Vauxhall Vectra Saab 93, and built their own body and suspension onto it. A good move I think, because the chassis is tried and tested in Europe and works well.

Will the whole package work? We shell see….


Exterior Styling


Distinctive shape and styling make the car striking
The BLS is quite distinctive in the looks department, with its egg-crate front grill and vertical taillights with full width rear high boot L.E.D brake light. Making it look like a Cadillac if you have ever visited the states, but for the rest of us it just looks different. The BLS is your classic wedge shape saloon with good lines. The side profile is very slab sided with deep doors and shallow windows giving good looks. Those high rear side windows however could give a restricted view for younger children.

I did notice no rubbing strips were fitted on the doors and with the flat sidedness I am sure the BLS will be prone to car park knocks and dings. From the front, the car has the v-shape grill which looks good, setting the whole car off with jewel-like vertically stacked headlights to the side. Giving the BLS a broad stance are 16inch to 18inch seven-spoke alloys depending on model finishing off the classy looks.


Interior Styling

  Open the door on the BLS and you enter another world, a world of leather and general top class features giving a high executive feel all round. For a start just press the memory seats which are fitted on both front seats. The seats are clad in top quality leather and are heated. Next, sit behind the three spoke leather steering wheel that has radio and cruise control buttons and you’ll notice that on the top of the wheel cross member are two paddles for manual gear changing on the automatic cars. This actually works very well and feels better and more natural than paddles fitted at the rear of steering wheels on some competitors’ cars.


Well specced and tons of space
Look beyond the wheel and you find a very well set out dash, a three dial instrument panel with white numerals and red needles on a black background.

The centre stack features a square analog clock set between two large air vents. Slightly below is a first class Bose audio system that any boy racer would be proud of. I turned it all the way up with no distortion at all. That is certainly very impressive.

The centre console has double drinks holder with CD storage and phone charging point inside the cubby centre box very handy. The car is also blue tooth compatible meaning your phone can work through the cars hi-fi system.

On the door A pillars you find controls for the electric mirrors that are also heated. I found this a very natural position for these controls, like all the controls inside the cabin.

Moving into the rear is a pleasure, as the BLS has the largest leg room in its class (892mm) and plentiful head room all round even for three people. On the back of the centre console you find air vents. But the real trick thing in the rear, I think, is the double drinks holder that slides out of the rear seat not unlike the ones you would normally find in dashboards.


Ride, Handling & Steering



Good setup - harder in the 2.8. Feels shore footed.
Having had the press briefing before setting foot in the BLS, I was expecting a Vectra ride, but what I got was pure Cadillac. They may have used the same floor pan but the suspension set up feels very smooth and sporty.

Independent MacPherson struts up front and a four link system in the rear., combined with two anti-roll bars gives a ride that is very sure footed as well as being very comfortable.

The top of the range sports luxury model has a firmer set up with lower ride with bigger 18inch wheels. In addition ABS, traction control, brake assist and even cornering brake control (CBC) are also included. The CBC Systems works such that when the brakes are applied on a bend, CBC regulates the brake pressure at each wheel individually, increasing cornering stability. All I know is, it works well giving a good firm feel which increases confidence.

For a front wheel drive car it feels as good as some four wheel drive cars I have driven.


Engine, Gearbox and Performance



Familiar 150bhp 1.9D and a tasty 255bhp 2.8-litre turbo petrol
Two models were at the launch a 150bhp 1.9-litre turbo diesel with a six speed gearbox and a 2.8-litre 255bhp turbo petrol again with a six speed gearbox.

The diesel is a first for Cadillac, they have never made one. I guess that’s the Americans for you. The oil burner feels good with 0-62 mph times of about 9.5 seconds. That’s not bad given I was getting 45 mpg on the test day and I can’t say I was being too gentle on the car.

The 2.8-litre V6 is an all-aluminum petrol engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger that features an overboost. The result is 0-62mph times of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. It is very responsive, fast and overall stable car even at speed. It just wants to go and to go quick. What a nice engine, just one drawback for all this performance and that is you can expect to get around 27mpg on a combined cycle. I only managed to get around 20mpg on test day but I did push it a bit.

Two more petrol engines are planned, both 2.0-litre. One will get 175bhp and the other 210bhp.






Overall it’s a very nice family saloon that’s comfortable, very roomy and well equipped. In diesel form it would make a good top of the range reps car that has an edge over the average ones because of its looks and pedigree.

The same goes for the smoking 2.8V6 a very nice executive car indeed that has the wow factor all round, with that bit of exclusivity to boot.

Talking of boots the BLS has a pretty big one (425-litres). And thanks to fold down rear seats it can be increased further.



  The 2.8-litre, love it, but, could I hold onto my license for long? I am not so sure.

As for the 1.9-litre diesel, its basically the same proposition, but with fuel economy too. That’s the one I think they will sell most of on our shores.

The only problem I see Cadillac having is their brand that not many know or the ones that do think, as I did, of big yank cars. Another problem they have at the moment is they only have a limited number of dealerships although they do have more planed. Finally you have to really think about resale values. Noo ne knows what these will be but I wouldn’t bet on them being brilliant.

But would I have one? Yes I think I would just to be different!

Related Links:         
First Press Release about the BLS

Press release about BLS pricing and availability

Full Set of Photos taken during the test

Cadillac's BLS website

Quick Section Links:         
1. Background
2. Exterior Styling
3. Interior Styling
4. Ride, Handling and Steering
5. Engine, Gearbox and Performance
6. Practicality
7. Conclusion

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