FOGO IS­LAND NEW­FOUND­LAND

Ignition - - 1st Gear - BY THE NUM­BERS

for­mer res­i­dent who de­cided to in­vest some of the for­tune she'd made as a fi­bre op­tics en­tre­pre­neur in its re­vi­tal­iza­tion.

And thus, the "Shore­line Foun­da­tion" was born, and with it came the Fogo Is­land Inn – a self-suf­fi­cient, con­tem­po­rary mas­ter­piece of modern ar­chi­tec­ture and one of the world's finest new ho­tels. An ethe­real white rec­tan­gle perched fifty feet above the shore­line, the inn is an oth­er­worldly sight. De­spite its ul­tra modern ex­te­rior, the inn's spi­dery legs pay homage to tra­di­tional stilted fish­ing huts, and the in­te­rior's a show­case of all-nat­u­ral, lo­cally sourced tex­tiles and crafts­man­ship.

It seems an im­prob­a­ble place in which to launch a new ve­hi­cle, but its "strange yet fa­mil­iar" aes­thet­ics dove­tail nicely with Cadil­lac's Art & Sci­ence de­sign lan­guage. While out­wardly the new Cadil­lac XT5 is a study in fresh mod­ernism, its cabin is ex­e­cuted with gen­uine ma­te­ri­als. "If it looks like leather, it is leather", said Bruce Young, Cadil­lac's Prod­uct Man­ager "If it looks like wood, it is wood, and if it looks like car­bon fi­bre – it's real car­bon fi­bre".

No doubt Cadil­lac con­sid­ered this award-win­ning "Salty Nar­nia" to be a good fit with their in­spi­ra­tional "Dare Greatly" cam­paign, and their most "crit­i­cal launch in Cana­dian his­tory".

The XT5 re­places the SRX cross­over – Cadil­lac's top-sell­ing model here, in one of the most lu­cra­tive seg­ments in the in­dus­try. Pre­mium crossovers have un­der­gone ex­plo­sive growth, and drop­ping oil prices help fuel their in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity. Cadil­lac's suc­cess in this Suv-driven mar­ket de­pends upon the XT5'S abil­ity to hang onto the sales mo­men­tum es­tab­lished by the ag­ing SRX – and the com­pany's USD$12 bil­lion in­vest­ment to fur­ther ex­pand their cross­over lineup.

While the new ve­hi­cle is an ob­vi­ous prod­uct of the Arts and Sci­ence ethos that helped re-es­tab­lish Cadil­lac as a pre­mium lux­ury brand, the changes are evo­lu­tion­ary, in­stead of rev­o­lu­tion­ary. There's a soft­en­ing of the char­ac­ter­is­tic box­i­ness, and the swag­ger gives way to sub­tler re­fine­ment. An aris­to­cratic, CT6- in­spired nose re­places the for­mer pug­like grille, with sub­tle badg­ing in­stead of the lu­di­crously enor­mous wreath. Less chrome, and the lin­ear sim­plic­ity of in­te­grated, ver­ti­cal head­lamps give the XT5 a more up­scale ap­pear­ance with­out Cadil­lac's prior ob­ses­sion with bling. The wheel­base is two-inches longer than the SRX, with a wider, more planted stance, and crisp new char­ac­ter lines and black lower cladding im­part­ing a sleek new pro­file. It now boasts one of the low­est curb weights in its seg­ment, yet length­wise it's one of the lead­ers.

Need­less to say, in a com­mu­nity of 2500 where pick­ups are plen­ti­ful and ev­ery­one's fa­mil­iar – we were like alien vis­i­tors from the Fogo Is­land Inn moth­er­ship.

The cabin is re­plete with wood trim, plump, sewn leather pan­els and plenty of new tech­nol­ogy. The lat­est ver­sion of Cadil­lac's CUE con­nec­tiv­ity sys­tem in­cludes stan­dard Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid op­tional and op­tional wire­less smart­phone charg­ing. There are a cou­ple of avail­able driver as­sis­tance pack­ages of­fer­ing

such safety aids as for­ward col­li­sion alert, lane-keep­ing, au­to­matic brak­ing with pedes­trian de­tec­tion, adap­tive cruise con­trol, and ad­vance park as­sist.

Sur­pris­ingly, there are some stretches of paved high­way on the is­land – enough to let us open the throt­tle on the new 3.6L V6. With 310 horse­power and 271 foot pounds of torque, the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine, shared with the CTS, ATS and CT6 is a will­ing and able per­former, if not very ex­cit­ing. It's mated to an 8-speed trans­mis­sion with GM'S first shift-by-wire dig­i­tal au­to­matic shifter.

While it's yet to be con­firmed, we may also get the 2.0L turbo-charged four cylin­der avail­able in China, but with more torque and bet­ter fuel econ­omy.

De­spite the XT5'S im­pres­sive 192 mil­lime­tres (7.8 inches) of ground clear­ance and avail­able all-wheel-drive, we weren't re­ally com­pelled to risk flog­ging it in the thick muck left by the re­ced­ing tide.

In­stead, we were con­tent to en­joy the seren­ity that comes from dou­ble-glazed acous­tic glass, triple-seal doors and ju­di­cious use of sound in­su­la­tion. The Buick-level of quiet is aug­mented by the sen­su­ous feel of pre­mium leather on all points of con­tact, but they're marred by the use of in­fe­rior plas­tics on the con­sole and shift lever. Still, it's a lux­u­ri­ous en­vi­ron­ment from which to ex­pe­ri­ence ice­bergs slowly ap­pear­ing as the fog lifts from the ocean, or the oc­ca­sional cari­bou graz­ing on a front lawn. And with GM'S on-board 4G LTE Wi-fi, we've got one foot in this haunt­ingly time­less is­land, while never los­ing con­tact with terra firma.

Thanks to 132 kilo­grams of mass re­duc­tion, the XT5 is more ag­ile, ac­cel­er­ates bet­ter, with less noise and vi­bra­tion and bet­ter fuel econ­omy than its pre­de­ces­sor. While Cadil­lac's mag­netic ride con­trol isn't avail­able on the XT5, Plat­inum trim lev­els do get ZF adap­tive dampers with hy­draulic bush­ings. There are se­lectable drive modes that al­ter the trans­mis­sion shifts and throt­tle re­sponse but don't re­ally add much to the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The rear view mir­ror avail­able on up­per trims de­serves spe­cial men­tion. Us­ing cam­eras to re­lay a panoramic, un­ob­structed view be­hind the ve­hi­cle, and dis­play it on the rear view mir­ror, it's the next best thing to hav­ing eyes in the back of your head. It may sound gim­micky but works bril­liantly to elim­i­nate blind spots.

Steer­ing is on the light side, but gains some heft when in Sport mode. Han­dling is nicely com­posed and the XT5 stays flat while cor­ner­ing but it lacks the en­gage­ment of its Ger­man com­peti­tors. In­stead, it ex­cels at cruis­ing along ma­jes­ti­cally, while we take in the haunt­ingly bar­ren, yet some­how charm­ing land­scape sur­round­ing us.

There are sev­eral lux­ury com­pact crossovers with bet­ter driv­ing dy­nam­ics; the Porsche Ma­can, BMW X3 and Jaguar F-pace come to mind.

Quiet, lux­u­ri­ous and tech­nol­ogy-laden, the Cadil­lac's base price of $45,100 is one of the seg­ment's low­est. It's a par­tic­u­larly com­pelling choice for those look­ing to up­grade from their fa­mil­iar, yet ag­ing SRX.

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