I still harbour the notion that Cadillacs ought to be big and floaty just like they were in the Fifties no matter how hard General Motors tries to change this perception. In the last decade, we’ve had some terrific performance models from the carmaker such as the CTS-V which has tremendous pace and exceptional handling as does the more recent ATS-V but I suppose we’re still getting used to the fact that you can throw cars with the wreath and crest logo around tight corners without feeling a little odd about it. Driving at a more leisurely pace in a large Cadillac still feels like it is the ‘correct’ way as opposed to with your teeth clenched and arriving everywhere sideways — this in spite of the fact that they can put as wide a smile on your face as their more performance-oriented European rivals. As much as we love creating great big plumes of smoke with those V-Spec cars, there will always remain a place in the line-up for big, soft cruisers that have no interest in pinning you back to the seat or setting any sort of lap records which brings me to the large and luxurious XTS. Ah, but this is the V-Sport model, so forget everything I just said...
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For 2018 the former flagship (the ever so classy CTS has snatched that title...) gets a pretty extensive update both inside, outside and under the skin too. Starting with the exterior, the first thing you’ll likely notice are its taut panels, crisp character lines and curved surfaces which do a sterling job in embracing its overall bulk rather than try — and fail — to hide it. This handsome saloon has a bold profile and softly arched roofline and it’s been tweaked a tad to resemble the CT6 by adopting a revised front fascia. It receives a new grille flanked by a pair of all-new LED headlights while around the back the taillights have been refreshed too. Cadillac also says that the front fenders don’t carry over from last year so this is more than just a little nip and tuck and this Platinum trim rides on all-new 20in premium painted wheels which hint at this car’s sporting potential.
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Interior comfort remains a priority and the cabin, adorned with opulent chrome, premium wood and microfibre suede trim, is exceptionally roomy both at the front and back; it has 1,016mm of rear legroom and it somehow managed to pack in a massive 509 litre boot too. It’s ever so comfortable in there with the 22-way power-adjustable front seats scoring major points thanks to their massaging, heating and cooling functions. Their foam structure and wire frames have been redesigned and now afford more comfort and make those long drives even more relaxing — while the Active noise cancellation does a fine job in keeping unwanted road or tyre noise from seeping in. There are times I can’t even hear the engine ticking over, it is that well insulated. The 8.0in CUE infotainment system is fully capacitive and it’s intuitive too however it’s pretty easy to touch or swipe the wrong things especially on the move. It’s loaded with tech from Bluetooth streaming audio, 4G and Wi-Fi hotspot capability, four USB ports, smartphone integration and wireless device charging not to mention safety too; for instance the Driver Awareness Package includes features such as Low Speed Automatic Braking, Following Distance Indicators and Lane Change Alert to complement Side Blind Zone Alert.
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So, this has all the bells and whistles you could ask for but if you think the suspension is made out of marshmallows or that it’ll hit 100kph eventually, then, shame on you. This V-Sport variant is a modern take on those traditional big-car values. Under the large bonnet resides a twin-turbo 3.6-litre V6 that delivers 410 horsepower and 500Nm of torque. There aren’t that many six-cylinders blessed with this much oomph (the standard XTS has a naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre which makes 304 horses and 355Nm) and when you nail the throttle you’ll be taken aback with the way it charges for the horizon. It hits 100kph from rest in just 5.7 seconds and the power delivery is exceptionally linear, there’s no detectable lag and even though most new cars have eight or nine speed transmissions, this six-speed unit doesn’t feel like it could use another cog at all. A master stroke was equipping the car with Magnetic Ride Control and all-wheel drive with Haldex tech as it displays sure footed and confident handling while the Brembo stoppers help rein in all the power.
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It’s not up there in terms of thrills like the ATS-V and CTS-V and if you’re being honest, you don’t want it to be either. This is a soft cruiser and there’s nothing wrong with being that. If you want a Caddy — albeit with a bit of an edge — then this one will be right up your street.