FOGO ISLAND NEWFOUNDLAND
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.