A STEP UP

Cadil­lac lends more oomph to its lar­gish sa­loon by plonk­ing a twin-turbo V6 un­der its bon­net. But is the XTS V Sport worth the ex­tra dosh, asks wheels’ Sony Thomas

Friday - - MOTORING -

Subtlety is not some­thing you’d read­ily as­so­ciate with a Cadil­lac, the pur­veyor of au­to­mo­tive bling. So when I was told the XTS V Sport edi­tion was on its way to the wheels of­fice, I was ex­pect­ing a sa­loon with con­spic­u­ous badges and or­na­ments pasted all over the body and cabin. But I was in for a pleas­ant sur­prise as, apart from a dis­creet V badge on the boot lid and what Cadil­lac calls the “twin-turbo grille” up front, there was noth­ing on the V Sport to tell it apart from the stan­dard XTS.

And that’s not a bad thing at all, as the XTS is an im­pec­ca­bly styled car that set the stan­dards in de­sign and build qual­ity for the Amer­i­can mar­que even be­fore the ATS and the third-gen­er­a­tion CTS took dy­nam­ics and re­fine­ment to a whole new level.

For a larger-than-mid­size sa­loon, the XTS is also a clear de­par­ture from wal­lowy barges like the DTS and the STS it re­placed. So it’s heart­en­ing to note that the XTS V Sport re­tains all the good­ness of the reg­u­lar model while adding an up­graded V6 and a few other tweaks here and there.

Cadil­lac’s nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 3.6-litre en­gine had failed to im­press me in the stan­dard XTS and the ‘top-of-therange’ ATS and CTS sa­loons. Lack­ing in power and re­fine­ment, it could never do jus­tice to the over­all lev­els of so­phis­ti­ca­tion achieved by these cars. Cadil­lac claims to have changed all that with the new tur­bocharged ver­sion of the V6 lump in the

The ride strikes a good bal­ance be­tween firm and cushy, with lit­tle road and wind noise

V Sport which, ac­cord­ing to them, is a com­pre­hen­sive up­grade over the stock en­gine.

Well, at 410bhp and 500Nm of torque, it’s a sig­nif­i­cant jump of 106bhp and 145Nm, and with peak torque avail­able from 1,900rpm on­wards, one would ex­pect it to deliver a neck-snap­ping spurt.

How­ever, in re­al­ity the car’s ac­cel­er­a­tion doesn’t feel as re­mark­able as the num­bers sug­gest. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s smoother and much torquier than the non-forcefed en­gine, mak­ing stand­ing starts and over­tak­ing on the high­way much eas­ier. The six-speed au­to­matic gear­box does its job well, with smooth and pre­dictable shifts both in city traf­fic and on open roads. The XTS V Sport feels well com­posed and poised on the road thanks to the Haldex all-wheel-drive sys­tem with an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled limited-slip dif­fer­en­tial and Mag­netic Ride Con­trol. Con­sid­er­ing it’s based on a com­fort-ori­ented large sa­loon, the car is sur­pris­ingly nim­ble, but that said, to me this sup­pos­edly sportier vari­ant doesn’t feel any more ath­letic than the stan­dard ver­sion, which had pretty solid road-hold­ing cre­den­tials.

Mean­while, the ride strikes a good bal­ance be­tween firm and cushy, with pas­sen­gers nicely in­su­lated from road and wind noise. Com­bined with the roomy cabin that of­fers plenty of head- and legroom, this makes it a great car for longer drives.

The stan­dard XTS it­self came with a pretty long list of con­ve­nience and safety fea­tures. The V Sport, which comes in Plat­inum trim, adds a host of stan­dard fea­tures like lane de­par­ture warn­ing, for­ward col­li­sion alert, blind spot warn­ing and rear cross traf­fic alert, as well as a safety alert seat and driver as­sist pack­age that in­cludes adap­tive cruise con­trol, au­to­matic brak­ing, au­to­matic col­li­sion prepa­ra­tion and so on.

The XTS V Sport is the most pow­er­ful Cadil­lac sa­loon that’s not a full-on V. And a price tag of Dh285,000 seems pretty rea­son­able for such a loaded car, as the ATS – which boasts a far su­pe­rior chas­sis – is let down by the un­avail­abil­ity of the 2.0-litre turbo in our mar­ket, and the CTS – which costs less – is less pow­er­ful too.

How­ever, what you should buy de­pends on whether you’re in the mar­ket par­tic­u­larly for a Cadil­lac sa­loon, as a lit­tle more money could get you a Ger­man car of the same size pow­ered by a grit­tier V8 and of­fer­ing ar­guably bet­ter per­for­mance.

The choice is yours.

MO­TOR­ING Even the stan­dard XTS has a long list of con­ve­nience and safety fea­tures

i IN­SIDE INFO Specs Model XTS V Sport En­gine 3.6-litre six-cylin­der turbo Trans­mis­sion Six-speed auto, AWD Max power 410bhp @ 6,000rpm Max torque 500Nm @ 1,900rpm Price Dh285,000 Highs Added punch, loaded with fea­tures, com­fort­able

Lows There are sub­jec­tively bet­ter op­tions avail­able for a sim­i­lar price

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