INVARIABLY, the first response when arriving in a BLS was: “I thought Cadillacs were big cars.” In fact, in its segment the BLS is the roomiest. With its massive boot and a length of just under 4,7m, calling it a “compact executive” doesn’t do it justice. It doesn’t have the sportiness of the BMW or the austerity of the Merc, but the BLS makes up for it in other ways. First, the price of R250 000 for the base 2l turbo model undercuts the Germans on a feature for feature basis.
I’m not a fan of wood panelling but the BLS’s fake walnut is the closest to the real thing and combines beautifully with the parchment leather seats. Some of the plastics used in the interior need some padding, but overall the cabin is attractive and well finished.
The engine is livelier than I expected. I’ve driven too many 2 litre-engined cars that feel dead under the foot, but the BLS responds to a bit of aggressiveness. The ride is softish and, together with the low noise levels inside, the effect is calming.
But probably none of that would make any difference to buyers if they didn’t like its distinctive, sharp-edged style. From the front its angles and folds work for me, but I can’t get past the oversize rear lights and especially the boomerang-shaped centre brake light. Judging by the many parking lot stares, for others it’s just what they want.