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Driving The New Cadillac STS
Dan Lienert

Cadillac first used the Seville nameplate on coupe editions of the Eldorado series in 1956, then resurrected the name in 1976 after a hiatus. The company wanted to use the European name to indicate that the car would be an import fighter.

Ha! The idea that Detroit could challenge the supremacy of European and Japanese cars in terms of comfort and sportiness only became more ridiculous as the 1980s unfolded. The gas crises of the '70s had made fossils of Detroit's enormous chunks of steel, and the Japanese began to clobber the American automakers with smaller, cheaper, more-efficient and higher-quality cars. Things reached a point where almost nobody accepted the idea that Detroit could mount a serious threat to overseas brands such as Toyota Motor's (nyse: TM - news - people ) Lexus subsidiary and Mercedes-Benz, which is now owned by DaimlerChrysler (nyse: DCX - news - people ).

How things have changed since that Seville name made its 1976 comeback. Cadillac, a division of General Motors (nyse: GM - news - people ), is now preparing its all-new STS, or Seville Touring Sedan, for an introduction in the fourth quarter of this year. It will have an estimated price range of $43,000 to $65,000. The vehicle could become the car to give Cadillac a significant lead over Mercedes in terms of sales, and the overhauled STS is just about as good as its main competitors, Mercedes' E-Class and BMW's 5 Series sedans.

The E-Class and 5 Series are the benchmarks for mainstream luxury sedans, and they just keep turning in better and better results for their companies. Last year, 5 Series sales increased in the United States by 15%, while E-Class sales grew by 31%. While these vehicles were on the rise in 2003, the outgoing Seville was on the slide. It sold only 18,747 models, a little more than one-third of last year's E-Class sales.

Thanks to a renaissance forged by light trucks such as its Escalade and SRX sport-utility vehicles, however, Cadillac narrowed Mercedes' lead to a very small margin after 2003. In 2002, Mercedes outsold Cadillac in America by 7% (213,225 units vs. 199,748); in 2003, Mercedes only outsold Cadillac by 1% (218,551 units vs. 216,090). In 2004, through May 31, Cadillac has taken the lead with 88,703 sales, compared to 85,684 at Mercedes. BMW, with 100,821 sales, has blown both companies away so far this year.

While the new STS is arriving at the end of a blitz of new cars from Cadillac (don't expect any other new nameplates soon, but look out for some new models in Cadillac's recently commissioned V-Series high-performance line), it is as significant a model introduction as Cadillac has had since the Escalade set the brand on fire. With a 320-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 engine atop the range, the STS is poised to challenge the 5 Series and E-Class, as well as the new, popular Chrysler 300C and its 345-hp HEMI engine.

The main problem with comparing the new STS' performance to that of the E-Class and 5 Series is that the Cadillac suffers from a lack of high-performance engine options. The flagship of the E-Class is the terrifying, 469-horsepower E55 AMG, and BMW is soon to introduce a 5 Series range topper called the M5, which will use a 507-hp V-10 engine. We therefore hope the rumors we are hearing are true: that Cadillac will introduce a high-performance STS-V sedan at January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and will put the vehicle on sale later in 2005.

In the meantime, Cadillac will offer two engine options on the STS: the 3.6-liter, 255-horsepower V-6, used by the SRX and CTS sedan, and the V-8. As Chrysler did for the 300, Cadillac is switching the STS to sportier rear-wheel drive from front. For V-8 models, Cadillac also plans to offer optional all-wheel drive. This move is a European one: All Mercedes sedans are rear- or all-wheel drive. Like the Chevrolet Corvette, the new STS will have Magnetic Ride Control suspension, a smooth, high-tech unit that adds value to the package.

Other features add even more value, such as the inclusion of OnStar and its bevy of concierge and emergency services as standard, and--a small but significant touch--the placement of RCA-style audio inputs in the center console. Finally, you don't have to buy Honda Motor's (nyse: HMC - news - people ) Element if you want to plug your Apple Computer (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ) iPod directly into the audio system.

Cadillac will build the STS alongside the CTS and SRX at its Lansing Grand River factory in Michigan, a plant that is as revolutionary as Cadillac, as it is proving that an American car factory can build cars that beat just about any others in terms of quality--and with productivity that equals or betters that of a Japanese plant.

Full Article Here

 

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I hate how he says "it may be just as good as an E-Class or 5-Series. Duh, it's on par with both of those excellent automobiles!!
 

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Originally posted by giagastormer@Jul 9 2004, 02:13 AM
I hate how he says "it may be just as good as an E-Class or 5-Series.  Duh, it's on par with both of those excellent automobiles!!
The disappointment in his tone is evident. Once I make my money, I will for sure go for a cadillac

he then goies on to say "The main problem with comparing the new STS' performance to that of the E-Class and 5 Series is that the Cadillac suffers from a lack of high-performance engine options. The flagship of the E-Class is the terrifying, 469-horsepower E55 AMG, and BMW is soon to introduce a 5 Series range topper called the M5, which will use a 507-hp V-10 engine. We therefore hope the rumors we are hearing are true: that Cadillac will introduce a high-performance STS-V sedan at January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and will put the vehicle on sale later in 2005. "


In essence dismissing the problem he just outlined.
 

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Not only that, but both the M5 and E55 account for probably 1 to 2 percent of their respective 5 and E series sales, and both cost more than $80,000, not really something to benchmark the STS against.


Cadillac has taken the lead with 88,703 sales, compared to 85,684 at Mercedes. BMW, with 100,821 sales, has blown both companies away so far this year.


I suspect that those BMW numbers include MINI sales, which is not a fair account of LUXURY CAR SALES, you should not count $16,000 s**tboxes in your sales totals just to make your numbers look higher.


Ha! The idea that Detroit could challenge the supremacy of European and Japanese cars in terms of comfort and sportiness only became more ridiculous as the 1980s unfolded. The gas crises of the '70s had made fossils of Detroit's enormous chunks of steel, and the Japanese began to clobber the American automakers with smaller, cheaper, more-efficient and higher-quality cars. Things reached a point where almost nobody accepted the idea that Detroit could mount a serious threat to overseas brands such as Toyota Motor's (nyse: TM - news - people ) Lexus subsidiary and Mercedes-Benz, which is now owned by DaimlerChrysler (nyse: DCX - news - people

I dislike this guy already.......more comfortable.....since when? especially in the 1970's and 1980's....I dont think that there were any foreign cars that were more comfortable than a Cadillac, they may have handled better and gotten better MPG, but more comfortable? please, none could match the room, and and silence of a large Cadillac sedan......"the supremacy of European and Japanese cars" ........when were they "supreme"? Through this entire period.... Cadillac was still the best selling luxury marque in the US...by far...it was not until the late 1990's that Cadillac began to start falling behind BMW, Lexus. Lincoln and Mercedes Benz in sales.......

The fact of the matter is Mr Snob....the 1976 Cadillac Seville was a very credible challange to cars like the Mercedes Benz 280SE and 450SE....alot of those were recieved as trade ins on new Sevilles....1st year sales of more than 40,000 units, while not stealing sales away from any of all the other cars in the Cadillac line up.
 

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My complaint with this review, just like others have pointed out, is related to lack of performance engines.
BMW and Mercedes do not release the high performance versions of the E class or M5 at the same time as the regular model. This is not unique to any company. Think of the Corvette, no Z06 in the first year. What I don't understand is has this guy ever followed how car companies release product. Or could it be I have to write something negative and can not find something so I will make it up?
 

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I know that this is a GM fan site, but I'm always amazed how upset people on this board get with what are overall postive reviews for GM products.

The fact of the matter is that by the mid-late 70's Cadillac was already in decline as a premium brand. It was sharing more and more of its mechanicals with "lesser" GM cars and no longer represented the cutting edge of style the marque was once known for.

During this time, the 1976 Seville was a breath of fresh air - a style leader for sure. But, it was a success more on style than on substance -- it was based on an improved Nova platform and used an Oldsmobile engine. At a time when Mercedes was beginning to gain traction in North America as a high quality, well engineered "smart" luxury car, Cadillac followed up the original (now classic) Seville with this neo-gothic bomb:



Slow and styled for another time, the next Seville killed what Cadillac had gained with the original Seville.

Yes, Cadillacs of this era still rode smoothly (as long as the road wasn't too rough or the speed too high, then bring on the sea sickness pills!) and were quiet, but so were their lessor GM cousins. What set apart a '78 Cadillac from a big Buick or Oldsmobile? Features? Chrome? What was clear by this point was that Cadillac was no longer the standard of the world and was barely hanging on as the standard of GM.

In that light, Cadillac's recent product blitz is nothing short of amazing. The fact that the STS is a legitimate 5-series competitor is a remarkable feat for GM. Noting this in an article hardly makes the author anti-GM -- the new STS competes in a way that even the last STS could not. That's newsworthy and worth reporting IMO.
 

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Ok I have some more issues with this review.
"The big worry for Cadillac employees should be the idea that GM could decide the brand has gone far enough. It has not. The V-Series is just getting off the ground. The STS is just now about to become a bona fide competitor with the E-Class and 5 Series. Cadillac has no hardtop coupes, no luxury wagons, no super cars and no premium sedans with which to challenge the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series flagship sedans, which have V-12 engines and prices that stretch into the $120,000 range."
1. Premature complaint regarding the V-Series give it a few years
2. No hardtop Coupes? I guess the XLR needs a back seat and the roof does fold.
3. A wagon? Oh those are big sellers and GM don't waste the money on building any wagons besides The SRX is terrible for the North American market and the Slade is not meeting anyone needs or expectations?
The V-12 is more off base. Halo cars look great in magazines but seriously how many sell? If the writer followed GM closer he would know such a car is coming soon. GM is correct in going into the heart of the lux market and not the fringe or niche. The mainstream sellers will get market share and create buyers for the high end of the market in the future.
 

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In response to comparing Benz and BMW sales with Cadillac: it's not a level playing field. Think of how many BMW's and Benz models there are (and that other poster was right, BMW sales include Mini). Think of all the variations on the C-class and then there is the CLK, SLK, SL, CL, E and all of it's variants, ML, G, Maybach, and the S. And then think about BMW. How many different configurations of the 3-series are there? Plus the X3 and X5, the 5 series, 6 series, Mini, and the 7 series. Maybe they're even putting Rolls Royce in that sales tally.

Cadillac's CTS has two variants-no coupes, convertibles, etc. The Deville has three trim levels, the Escalade has three versions, the STS will have two engine options and drive wheel options (the most diverse car lineup, one could say); and the XLR comes in one version. And the SRX is limited too. No AMG ML 55 or 4.6is type models.

That dude points out the model shortcomings in the article right after saying how the sales aren't that extraordinary...seems like he sort of explains away his argument.

But, objectively, this article seems like it has a lot of positives to say. Especially good coming from a magazine like Forbes.
 

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Typical bias...
 

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Originally posted by RCtennis3811@Jul 9 2004, 08:12 PM
Typical bias...
perhaps, but how will we ever know what's bias and what's actual? this guy might very well have looked at it objectively and determined that the caddy isn't an outright winner in this group, or he might have decided that before he started writing and looked for excuses to back it up. i'm inclined to think every negative article about GM is bad, and every positive one is good, which is faulty logic. it's hard to sift through, especially when the writer is giving his opinion. that's why we gotta get out there and drive these things, to decide for ourselves!

any commentary on an STS-V is useless at this point, because the car doesn't exist. it might very well be on its way, but it's premature to assess the STS's potential place in the crowd including a vehicle yet to be showcased!
 

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What ever! The facts are simple. Cadillac is back in action. They have great products and even better ones on the way. Go GM :)
 

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Originally posted by Buick61@Jul 9 2004, 06:43 PM
In response to comparing Benz and BMW sales with Cadillac: it's not a level playing field...
And it was my understanding that Cadillac has narrowly surpassed MB to date in sales in the USA. (I'm too lazy to check).
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam+Jul 9 2004, 04:47 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (tgagneguam @ Jul 9 2004, 04:47 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Buick61@Jul 9 2004, 06:43 PM
In response to comparing Benz and BMW sales with Cadillac: it's not a level playing field...
And it was my understanding that Cadillac has narrowly surpassed MB to date in sales in the USA. (I'm too lazy to check). [/b][/quote]
:eek:
I wouldn't be surprised. THere really wasn't a whole lot separated Mercedes and Cadillac. Jsut a few thousand.
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam+Jul 9 2004, 03:47 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (tgagneguam @ Jul 9 2004, 03:47 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Buick61@Jul 9 2004, 06:43 PM
In response to comparing Benz and BMW sales with Cadillac: it's not a level playing field...
And it was my understanding that Cadillac has narrowly surpassed MB to date in sales in the USA. (I'm too lazy to check). [/b][/quote]
Yes you're right. I think Cadillac sold about 88,000 vehicles and Mercedes-Benz sold about 85,000 but BMW sold about 105,000 - but those are just estimates as I can't remember the EXACT numbers.
 

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Originally posted by Tone@Jul 9 2004, 06:23 PM
I At a time when Mercedes was beginning to gain traction in North America as a high quality, well engineered "smart" luxury car, Cadillac followed up the original (now classic) Seville with this neo-gothic bomb:



Slow and styled for another time, the next Seville killed what Cadillac had gained with the original Seville.
I'm dating myself here, but whatever... back in 1981 I was fresh out of university and just got my first job. One day my junior executive self was invited to lunch with the owner of the company and our controller. What an honor! I soon found out why. The controller drove us to the restaurant in his new bustle-back Seville. There, he and the owner proceeded to drink their lunch over the course of a couple of hours. Far more than the fabled "three-martini lunch". I was there to drive them back.

Mid-afternoon they decided to pack it in and he tossed me the keys. I still remember the steering on that Seville. I had driven early-70's Fords and Chryslers which were notorious for numb power steering, but they were nothing like this thing. It was as if the steering wheel wasn't even connected to the linkage. I had never experienced anything like it. Even sober, I had trouble keeping the Seville on-course. Can't imagine what it would have been like with a few drinks in me.
 

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The author is correct in his point that Cadillac still doesn't have a halo car or a performance car that can stack up against a BMW M5. True this is a negative remark but what do you expect? It's a fact (even tho the STS-V is a possibility, it's not here yet). The fact that the author makes one comment that is not a praise for all things Cadillac is not a bad thing. In fact, it gives him credibility. Other than that, he paints a very good picture of where Cadillac has been and where it's been in the future and overall he has more of a pro-GM bias. Cadillac was once the standard the rest of the world compared itself to. For the past few decades, it hasn't but it seems to be headed back that way.

I think that the only way Cadillac can compete is to realease a car somewhat like the Sixteen. Want to be the standard of the world? Give us a car that can take down the Maybachs and Bentleys.

My one reservation about Cadillac right now is the Deville. Is there a plan to change it over to a AWD platform? I can't imagine Cadillac's highest-price car (I think it's the highest priced) being FWD only. I think they should put it on a AWD platform and make it a 7 series competitor.
 

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Originally posted by RCtennis3811+Jul 9 2004, 07:34 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (RCtennis3811 @ Jul 9 2004, 07:34 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
Originally posted by [email protected] 9 2004, 03:47 PM
<!--QuoteBegin-Buick61
@Jul 9 2004, 06:43 PM
In response to comparing Benz and BMW sales with Cadillac: it's not a level playing field...

And it was my understanding that Cadillac has narrowly surpassed MB to date in sales in the USA. (I'm too lazy to check).
Yes you're right. I think Cadillac sold about 88,000 vehicles and Mercedes-Benz sold about 85,000 but BMW sold about 105,000 - but those are just estimates as I can't remember the EXACT numbers. [/b][/quote]
BMW Sales:
The BMW Group has once again clearly increased its rate of growth up to the end of the first six months of 2004. In a month-on-month comparison in June, the company has increased the number of automobiles delivered to customers by 17.4% to 113,886 units (prev.yr.: 96,986). Up to and including June, 590,983 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce cars were supplied to customers. This is an increase of 8.5% over the same period in 2003 (prev.yr.: 544,872). This means that the first half-year of 2004 was the most successful in the history of the BMW Group.

Cadillac Sales:
Cadillac - Cadillac sales through six months improved 11 percent (105,992). Cadillac posted strong sales in June (17,289), up 10 percent, paced by truck sales (6,705), which gained 45 percent. Trucks established a monthly sales record and a calendar year-to-date sales record with 42,522 deliveries, up 66 percent. The Escalade portfolio had 4,614 deliveries, and the ESV had record June sales (1,246) and first-half sales (6,860). SRX had 2,091 deliveries. CTS continued its sales momentum with 4,743 deliveries, up 3 percent, setting new monthly and first-half (29,233) sales records.
Mercedes Benz Sales:
In the United States, demand for Mercedes-Benz brand cars rose by 1.5 percent to 17,500 vehicles in June. As a result, customer deliveries totaled 103,200 units for the first six months as a whole (2003: 105,900 units). Record sales of the C Class sedan (28,600 cars, up 16 percent), the E Class (27,200 cars, up five percent) and the SL Class (7,000 cars, up 22 percent) all contributed substantially to the good development on the North American market.

To summarize:
BMW Sales:113,886 units
Cadillac Sales:105,992 units
Mercedes Benz Sales:103,200 units
...But Lexus is still #1.
 

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Originally posted by MCGARRETT@Jul 9 2004, 06:03 PM
The fact of the matter is Mr Snob....the 1976 Cadillac Seville was a very credible challange to cars like the Mercedes Benz 280SE and 450SE....alot of those were recieved as trade ins on new Sevilles....1st year sales of more than 40,000 units, while not stealing sales away from any of all the other cars in the Cadillac line up.
The '76 Seville was never really in the same league as the 5's and E's of the time.

And now, nearly 3 decades on, it's clear why: the '76 Seville remains one of the handsomest, most elegant cars ever built. It still looks great.

The 5's and E's of the time were more technically sophisiticated, granted, but they weren't art. I have to think hard to even remember what they looked like.
 

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To summarize:
BMW Sales:113,886 units
Cadillac Sales:105,992 units
Mercedes Benz Sales:103,200 units
...But Lexus is still #1.


I'm curious...where are Lexus' numbers?


The 5's and E's of the time were more technically sophisiticated, granted, but they weren't art. I have to think hard to even remember what they looked like.

They may have has OHC engines and independent rear suspensions, but when the rubber met the road, their performance data, and that of the Seville were very similar. Cadillac took alot of pains to make sure that the Seville was something special, and it turned out very well for them, the Seville was not just a dressup Nova, in reality there are only 2 or 3 components that the Seville shared with the regular X bodies. I do agree with the styling, it was one of the cleanest of its time that look of the orginal Seville set the styling tone for GM sedans for the next 10 to 15 years.



Mid-afternoon they decided to pack it in and he tossed me the keys. I still remember the steering on that Seville. I had driven early-70's Fords and Chryslers which were notorious for numb power steering, but they were nothing like this thing. It was as if the steering wheel wasn't even connected to the linkage. I had never experienced anything like it. Even sober, I had trouble keeping the Seville on-course. Can't imagine what it would have been like with a few drinks in me.


The 2nd generation Seville which ran from 1980 to 1985, was considered controversial at frist, but accepted by many customers, though it never sold in as many numbers as the 1975 to 1979 Seville, but it managed to be quite popular, through I have never driven one, I have driven Eldorados, DeVilles and Fleetwoods of the early 1980's vintage as the Seville, and I was able to keep the cars in perfect control, yes the steering is light, but I disagree with the above statements, but then again I own a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. The funny thing that many a predicting the 2nd generation Sevilles will become collectable in the future. They were pretty advanced cars for their time, it was the 1st sedan in the world to combine, 4 wheel independent suspension, 4 wheel disc-brakes, leveling suspension, and front wheel drive, also a standard diesel engine, the Eldorado from 1979 was the 1st car to do the same, except for the diesel engine. If the look of the 1980 Seville was so bad, why did Lincoln copy it on the 1982 Continental and Chrysler copied it on the 1981 Imperial?
 
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