For all the luxury sedan segment may be dwarfed by sales of lavish SUVs, that hasn’t made the category any less competitive. On the one side, the German mainstays bring reputation and refinement to the party; on the other, comparative upstarts like Genesis, Lexus, and Acura claw back attention with imaginative risk-taking. What to make, then, of the 2021 Cadillac CT5 somewhere in the middle?
I like Cadillac’s styling, with the CT5’s blend of angles and LEDs making for a handsome sedan from most angles. As with the most recent Escalade, the CT5 isn’t quite as vocal in its aesthetic as its predecessor: the grille feels like it could be a little larger; the side proportions a little beefier. 18-inch alloys are standard, with 19- and 20-inch versions available. I’d say step up at least one size, as the regular wheels look a little small to my eyes.
The 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and is good for 360 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. They’re certainly healthy numbers, and a fair sight more than the 237 hp / 258 lb-ft the standard 2.0-liter turbo-four delivers.
What you can only get on the CT5 V-Series, though, is Cadillac’s upgraded performance suspension and Magnetic Ride Control. The electronic limited-slip differential and Performance Traction Management system are exclusive to the V, too.
It leaves the regular CT5 with independent MacPherson strut front suspension and independent 5-link rear, and it’s all tuned on the soft side. Where the V-Series can flip from comfort to sport at the touch of a drive mode button, switching between Tour and Sport in the standard car is less dramatic. The 10-speed holds lower gears for longer, and the engine sounds louder, but it doesn’t have the sharpened dynamics which leave the CT5-V feeling poised and eager.
The multi-valve dampers on the CT5 simply aren’t so adaptable. It’s not that the sedan can’t hustle, it just doesn’t really encourage that. Long-distance cruising would be a joy in this Caddy, and pickup in a straight line is as urgent as the power figures would lead you to expect. Where some luxury sedans encourage leaving the family at home and playing on the backroads occasionally, though, the CT5 just doesn’t inspire the same.
Doubling down on that road trip ethos is the interior. The CT5’s cabin has plenty of space – for passengers, at least, though the 11.9 cu-ft trunk is a little small – and there’s no shortage of equipment. Premium Luxury trim comes with 14-way power front seats, leather, keyless start, a wireless phone charger, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and ambient lighting as standard. You get rear parking assistance and cross traffic alerts, forward collision alerts, blind zone warnings, and front pedestrian braking too. That’s all for $40,795.
As well as $3.5k for the V6 and $2k for all-wheel drive, my test car had the $1,350 navigation and Bose 15-speaker audio, the $1,090 Climate Package with heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel, and the $600 Lighting Package with LED cornering headlamps and illuminated sill plates. $500 adds auto high-beams, lane-keep assistance, and following distance indicator, and $625 gets the Dark Moon Metallic paint. In all, with $995 destination, you’re looking at $51,455.
All the pieces are there, but I wish there was a little more oomph in how they were put together. The CT5’s cabin seems solid and the switchgear generally feels sturdy, but there’s little of the aesthetic consideration that rivals deliver. Shared parts with the rest of GM’s brands, combined with sober finishes that border on dour, feel neither special nor particularly luxurious.
It all works, it just doesn’t go beyond that to delight. Cadillac’s infotainment system feels like just what you’d find in a recent Chevy or GMC (because, funnily enough, it is) whereas the new Escalade serves up something a lot more unique. The chromed switchgear is too clearly plastic when you touch it, while the 10-inch touchscreen looks tagged on rather than integrated. A fully-digital driver’s display is optional, but the smaller standard panel – sandwiched between analog dials – could benefit from nicer graphics. Again, it does the job, it just doesn’t make itself memorable.
Super Cruise is finally available on the CT5, though the $2,500 option was absent from my test car. It’s the enhanced version, too, which can automatically change lanes for you. Honestly, if I was buying a CT5, it’s the option that would be top of my list.
As for economy, the V6 with AWD is EPA rated for 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, for 21 mpg combined. Conspicuous by its glaring absence is any sort of electrification; for a Caddy EV we’ll have to wait for the Lyriq crossover, which is still some way out.
2021 Cadillac CT5 Verdict
So many of my complaints about the CT5 could be boiled down to “just commit more, Cadillac.” There are hints at greatness throughout, but it seldom quite feels like the automaker goes the whole way and delivers on them. The styling is handsome but falls short of gravitas; the cabin is spacious and well-equipped, but feels bland; and the driving dynamics, especially with the twin-turbo V6, are promising yet not quite as engaging as the sum of the parts would lead you to expect.
That adds up to a problem, because rivals aren’t making the same mistakes. BMW’s 3 Series is more engaging, Genesis’ G70 takes more styling risks, and Mercedes’ C-Class has more comfort. Importantly, all three are just more memorable than the CT5.
Cadillac is quick to point out that its sedan is aggressively priced compared to its competitors, particularly the Germans, and that it outweighs them on things like power and standard equipment. Problem is, in focusing on comparisons, the CT5 has forgotten to factor in Cadillac’s own inherent charm: that singularly American presence and borderline-excess. The result is a car that’s good in many ways, but not great, and that’s just not enough in this segment to rise above the crowd.
Polestar 2 adds a video streaming app to pass the time while charging
Polestar is adding a video streaming app to the Android Automotive OS dashboard of the Polestar 2, though as you’d hope the EV has some strict limits on playback depending on whether you’re driving or not. Currently in beta, the Polestar 2 video app is designed to give drivers something to occupy themselves as they wait at public chargers.
Certainly, the growing number of DC fast chargers available in the wild have helped with cutting down that time. So, too, has Polestar’s incremental update to just how fast the EV actually tops-up, with an OTA firmware update back in February 2021 nudging the charging rate to 155 kW from the 150 kW it launched with.
All the same, even if you find such a charger, it’s still going to take you longer to top-up than pumping gas might. European Polestar 2 owners will now be able to entertain themselves with some video as they hang out in the cabin.
There’ll be a choice of news programming and national TV broadcasts, where available, Polestar says, along with a video playlist which is curated by the automaker. To begin with there’ll be SVT in Sweden, TV2 in Norway, and GOPlay and RTBF in Belgium. All European market also receive feeds from BBC Ideas, Al Jazeera English, and Germany’s tagesschau. More options will be added over time.
What you won’t be able to do, though, is play video while you’re actually driving. The Polestar video app can be accessed when the EV is parked; switching out of Park and into Drive or Reverse will automatically flip the stream into audio-only mode. That way you can hear the show, but not see it on-screen which could be a source of driver distraction.
How well it goes down with owners, meanwhile, remains to be seen, and indeed Polestar is seeing this beta version as a way to test out the popularity of new features. “We will receive feedback – both good and bad – that will help to refine the app based on thousands of use cases, rather than a small, defined set,” Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO, explains. “We will also continue to add channels in the future, which gives the app huge growth potential since it is realistically able to integrate any web-based streams.”
Sweetening the deal is the fact that viewers won’t have to pay extra for the data used by streaming, since that will be included in the car’s own data plan.
It’s unclear when – or even if – the app will come to Polestar 2 cars in North America. Current legislation certainly doesn’t prevent it, with Tesla already offering streaming on its EVs, though again with limits on when you can watch depending on whether the car is in motion. We’ve got a request in with Polestar for more information, and will update when we hear back.
Brembo introduces G Sessanta Concept brake caliper for motorcycles
Italian braking expert Brembo is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Commemorating this glorious event is the brand’s newest brake caliper concept for motorcycles. The latest G Sessanta Concept is unlike any brake caliper you’ve seen before. Embodying the desirable traits of a genuine concept, G Sessanta is Brembo’s vision for the future of mobility.
The Brembo G Sessanta Concept has innovative LED lighting technology that is purpose-built on the body of the caliper. It not only enhances form and function but it serves as a communication interface for the driver. “The light takes Brembo’s experience in the use of color to a higher level, giving it new values,” according to Brembo’s PR.
Wireless technology is at the heart of G Sessanta. The colors and lighting effects can be personalized using your smartphone or gadget. You can choose from changing lighting moods or allow the system to select the lighting effects based on existing surroundings.
What’s more, it can relay warning lights to the driver, like when the brake pads need replacing. And if you find it tricky discerning your bike from hundreds of others in a parking lot, G Sessanta can emit a courtesy light to point you in the right direction.
Brembo has been setting new standards in braking technology since the brand’s inception in 1961. Born in Paladina, Italy, Brembo’s 46-year motorsports history is a testament to the brand’s commitment towards performance and innovation. The Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing has optional Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes with copper-free brake pads and electronic sensors to monitor the brake pad thickness, all while weighing 64 pounds less than cast-iron brakes.
However, will Brembo’s G Sessanta Concept make it to four-wheeled conveyances? We’ll have to wait and see, and it’s interesting to witness how lighting or wireless technology can benefit auto brakes, as well. Still, it’s good to know that significant OEM and aftermarket suppliers are infusing new technology into their products.
The Citroën Ami Cargo is an electric microvan for small business errands
You’ve probably heard of the Citroën Ami EV, a micro EV that’s small enough to be driven by 14-year-old teeny boppers without a full driving license – in France, at least. Nevertheless, the Ami is a brilliant and dirt-cheap city car with a conscience. And now, Citroën has unveiled the microvan version of the Ami, which makes it doubly desirable.
The Citroën Ami Cargo offers all the little goodness of a regular Ami, but it has small or micro-enterprises in mind. “Inspired by the version designed for individuals, My Ami Cargo retains the idea that guided the design of Ami,” said Richard Meyer, Stellantis Commercial Vehicles Strategy and New Mobilities manager.
Small on the outside yet big on the inside, Citroën Ami Cargo has a vertical partition and modular shelves to store cargo boxes, plants, small kennels, and whatever you fancy. The modular rack can hold 40 kg of weight and has a flat top to form a mobile desk. “This is why we created an innovative interior space, allowing us to make an offer that’s unique on the market while retaining the simplicity and clever design of the Ami,” added Meyer.
What’s more, Citroën’s electric microvan has a flat floor with two levels of height adjustment, allowing you to carry taller objects up to 1.2-meters. All told, Citroën Ami Cargo can accommodate up to 400 liters or 140 kilos (308 pounds) of stuff. In the rear, it also has a closed storage box to secure valuable things like smartphones, tablets, small laptops, and parking tickets.
Otherwise, the cargo version remains a basic Ami minus the passenger seat. It still measures 2.4-meters by 1.4-meters, perfect for tight parking spots. It has a single electric motor and a 5.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. It only has eight horsepower, but how many horses do you need to motivate a tiny van?
As it turns out, it doesn’t take much. The 6 kW electric motor enables a modest 30 mph (45 km/h) top speed, so don’t expect to be blown away like in a Tesla Model Y. The tiny battery achieves 47 miles of range on a good day. But when the battery runs out of juice, it replenishes in just three hours using a primary 220V domestic socket.
Also, the Citroën Ami Cargo is endlessly customizable to fit any purpose. The best part is the price: You can purchase the Ami Cargo in France for as low as €6,490 ($7,800) with a €900 ($1,081) deductible, or you can rent it as part of a long-term lease agreement starting at under €25 ($30) monthly
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