By on December 18, 2006

bls_4.jpgWhen I was growing up in South Africa, Cadillacs were gaudily chromed boats adorned with absurd fins. I thought they were stupid. I simply couldn’t reconcile Caddy's grandiose luxury land yachts with the small, sensible cars of my youth. As my horizons widened, as I learned about art, décor and design; I eventually “got it." I understood why enthusiasts waxed nostalgic about the great Caddies of yore, even though we saw precious few models in my corner of The Dark Continent.

So there I was, attending a ride ’n drive event for the Hummer H3. Instead of putting us behind the wheel of GM’s gangsta’ Chevy Colorado, the company’s PR flacks pulled the sheets off a brand new car and announced it was right here, right now: Cadillac! The erstwhile luxury brand’s brand latest and greatest model was now available in RSA, and we’d get to drive this Saab-based mid-size sedan. Here are the keys. Off you go.

cadillacbls.jpgNow cast your minds back to great Cadillacs of our collective imagination. Skip tracer Tommy Nowak’s 1959 convertible. The pearlized pink Caddies proudly gracing the driveways of Mary Kay’s super sales force. Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 Eldorado fearing and loathing the Nevada desert. Elvis’ 1955 Fleetwood 60 Special, or the pink Cadillac in his rockabilly classic “Baby Let’s Play House.” The Caddy ambulance in Ghostbusters. Now, behold: the BLS!

Actually, you can’t behold a car as pleb as the BLS. You can hardly look at it without turning away in schadenfreude-inspired shame. This “B-grade Luxury Sedan” (Cadillac’s designation, not mine) looks like nothing but a bunch of creased cardboard from a package designer seeking maximum rigidity. The BLS sports the high beltline that’s quickly becoming synonymous with the modern American cars. From the rear three quarter, the derivative design apes the Chrysler 300’s urban flava. ‘Art & Science’? More like ‘Compromise & Cowardice’. 

Yes, modern BMW and Mercedes designers have overdone it on the concaves and convexes and swoops and fussiness. But Cadillac practically invented concaves, convexes, swoops and fussiness. The BLS has been sterilised of anything you could dislike– or like. It’s the gauda, the unwooded chardonnay, the Castle Lite, the Phil Collins of cars.

2006-cadillac-bls-dashboard-1920x1440.jpgThe BLS’ interior is equally anodyne. It’s better than a Ford or Chrysler’s cabin, but invites Audi and Volvo to an ergonomic pity party. The classy retro-feel dash-mounted clock’s attempt to jazz up a dour, drab space is about as convincing as double dubs on a Vee Dub. And then there’s the build quality by which a luxury marque lives, or in this case, dies. I sussed three different test cars with three different sets of dashboard rattles. One car’s wipers whistled at a workaday Karoo-eating 150kph. Another boasted a broken rear seat latch. Never mind. Only a masochistic full-sized adult would dare darken the BLS’ cramped rear compartment.

The Trollhatten-built BLS comes in four engine flavours: a 1.9-liter four-cylinder common-rail diesel, the same engine with a turbo, a 2.0-liter turbo Ecotec four and a 2.8-liter turbo V6. If you’ve driven Saabs, then you know the score. The diesel is the strong, silent type; the two-litre the sensible, boring sort; and the V6 has a bit of much needed swagger (0 – 60mph in 7.1 seconds).

The BLS sits on the same Epsilon platform underpinning the Saab 9-3 (Saabilac?), Opel Vectra (Opelac?) and Chevy Malibu (Malibac?). Saab, Opel, GM, Cadillac – someone tuned the BLS’ suspension to Euro-driver firmness. While the BLS’ initial turn-in is eager and its body control exemplary, the brakes and steering provide less feedback than the Home Affairs department to a telephone query. If you push the front wheel-drive Caddy (how great does THAT sound), you can get some dramatic tire-squealing understeer, but little in the way of agility or fun. It’s best to drive as if you’re not insured.

6ca1_434bca9eb3d63.jpgCompared to the comfort, ride, handling, performance and cachet of Europe’s midrange luxury offerings, the BLS is a joke. It isn’t on the same planet as a rear wheel-drive BMW, Mercedes or the well-poised (if somewhat crashy) Audi. No wonder the BLS hasn’t lived up to GM’s initial [and modest] sales expectations.

In fact, the BLS is another in a long line of badly judged badge-engineering bodge jobs that’ve been ruining The General's brands for decades. GM’s decision to export the BLS to South Africa and, gulp, Mexico, is a cynical attempt to see if car buyers in smaller markets are more amendable to mediocrity than the Euro Zone. If I can speak for the Mexicans, we aren’t. In fact, GM should kill this model before it pisses away any remaining respect for the once great Cadillac name, or teaches new drivers that Cadillac is the sub-standard of the world.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

63 Comments on “Cadillac BLS Review...”


  • avatar

    From the rear three quarter, the derivative design apes the Chrysler 300’s urban flava.

    Was wondering and wondering and couldn’t quite place it, but you did. Indeed, it is the 300.

    Caddyshack.

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    Oh my. I hear the ghosts of the Catera and Cimarron rattling their chains… and it’s not pretty. What a great way to erode the nameplate overseas. Hopefully Cadillac will not attempt to foist this car on the US market.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    BLS in Mexico? Weird how exchange rates work out.

    Yes, get those Cimarron badges out, they’re needed.

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    This car is the answer to euro-customers question:
    “Does Cadillac sell a car with a diesel engine?”
    Moreover, the author totally misses the opportunity to namedrop Fiat and Alfa, or FIFA as he would have put it. They are the main source of the 1,9 litre diesel engine.

    I would maintain that this car is far from the worst in the GM-lineup, and in size, design and price is rather sensible considering the european market.

    BUT it’s not easy to establish a “new” brand here. Even Lexus is struggeling somewhat, and they easily spend 100 times as much as Cadillac on advertising. I have yet to see a BLS ad. So when Cadillac have a sellable car, they lack the organisation to sell it.

    Or, as I put it earlier:
    You can’t fool consumers. It’s all about having a company(structure) that enables the development, manufacturing and marketing of great products.

    2 out of 3 isn’t enough GM!

    Let me tell you another story of a failed launch. When the Cadillac V-16 was launched they had a small rally one day driving from the south of Sweden up north to Stockholm. The problem was that they never came to Stockholm – and the awaiting journalists and invited guests. They got stuck halfway there.

    Quality problems? No! This was during the USA Prohibition-days. So the USA-team had been unable to resist drinking (too much) during the day. So they never reached Stockholm that day. Perhaps GM didn’t want risk repeating that one… :-)

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    I just came back from Germany, and if you think auto competition is strong in the US, go there. In Europe, where they already have everything we sell in the states, the French & Italians (who don't sell here) weigh in with another dozen or so mfgs. bringing a full line of products to market. If you ain't good you ain't there. The Japanese are now staking out their claim with what we know to be saleable products. Interestingly, in Germany, the Chrysler 300 is the most seen new American car. I understand it has a diesel not the hemi or the second rate american 6 cylinder engines of Chrysler. Yes, Cadillac can be happy if they stay a force here in the US where the name was invented, made number one in luxury and then trashed by the proctor and gamble people who used to run GM.

  • avatar
    tincanman99

    Not digging the stealth fighter looks because thats what the creases on this car remind me off. Ever seen an F117? Go look and compare. Not the ugliest car on the planet by any means but I would not call it pretty either.

    Cant see why I would buy this over an Audi/BMW/Mercedes. I get shivers down my spine when I thing this thing shares the same platform with a Saab and Chevy. Yeah that makes for good marketing. Speaking of Saab’s they are not what they used to be. I like the rebadged GMC with a Saab name – NOT.

  • avatar
    webebob

    When I grew up, Cadillacs were bigger’n Dallas, owned by silver-haired gentlemen who lived down the street and appeared not to have a care in the world. Cadillac reached their pinnacle with the Eldorado of the mid-seventies, sporting a 500 cubic inch engine! I truly wanted the last American hero, the 76 Eldo convertible.

    Things never clicked, and sadly, Cadillac and I moved in opposite directions. Maybe there was a bit of revived interest in that Cadillac they featured in the HBO series with Larry David, but by that time there was so many different three-initial Cadillacs, I didn’t know which was which.

    I travel a bit, and think I have ridden in every version of the Lincoln Town Car ever made and used by the limo services; yet I have never never ridden in the back of a Cadillac. Oops, my bad, I was picked up by an Escalade once. (Epiphany time) So that is all that Cadillac has become, a rebadge? How far the mighty have fallen.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    i would love to see one of these in person, i cant help but get the feeling that most people who dont like it are comparing it to the 1959 coupe de ville, as this writer seems to be doing. It has a Saab content, which is a good thing, i think – certainly the reviews of the saab on which it is based have been good – it has a 1.9 L diesel engine, which is a perfect size, as far as i can tell – especially if you are concerned about fuel consumption. And gang – Italian engines are the best in the world for torque and they sound – ah! mamma mia! The pictures I have seen of the interior I have seen look fine. I can’t understand all the fuss.

    I really like the (non-american) idea of lux cars having small engines. Most european manufacturers do not import their smallest engines here – Audi’s with 4′s non turbos, and small diesels. I would personally look at a caddy with a small four diesel in it, assuming it had a superior interior ( a – a poem!), and excellent driving dynamics. Perhaps this car does not have that – i dunno – i would like to see it. I don’t feel this reviewer and others who start their reviews talking about chrome and 22 foot late 60′s barges are giving it a fair shot.

  • avatar
    rashakor

    Actually Cadillac in Europe has always been a name of Legend. The American land-yact… I actually remember growing up in Paris that a Caddie turned more head than a Ferrari. I think there is still an ethos to the name in europe. But GM should use caution not to try to emulate Euro offering because thay will lose at that game.

  • avatar
    tom

    The reason why you see so many 300s in Germany is probably because every DCX employee can get special pricing on every car from the company, no matter if it’s Mercedes, Smart or Chrysler.

    The 300 Diesel is actually a great car. It costs 10,000€ less than the Hemi (at least in Germany), 0-60 in 8.6s compared to the Hemi’s 6.8s but has almost the same torque and already at much lower rev and reaches 35mpg on the Highway (at least these are the official numbers).

    But back on topic, maybe GM should give its European employees the option to take any brand as well. There are so many people working for Opel, Vauxhall and Saab. If only a couple of them would drive Caddy, the visibility of the brand would already be much higher.

    Of course, GM would finally degrade Caddy in Europe to a “not-quite” luxury brand, for people who want their Opel to be a little bit more exotic. But at this point it hardly matters anymore.

  • avatar

    If you know thing one about branding, there is no credible justification for the existence of this vehicle. It was no less a man than Mark LeNeve who proclaimed that a Cadillac should be a car that young kids aspired to own– but couldn't actually own. To see Cadillac become Buick (cut price luxury) is beyond pathetic. It's craven. It PAINS me that America can't build the world's best luxury car. Why the Hell not? We have the technology, the creativity, the passion, the market, everything. A rebadged Suburban? A front wheel-drive bland barge? Is this really the company that built the Eldorado or, for that matter, the [original and concept] V16? Now GM is trying to make Caddy into its performance division (a.k.a. Pontiac). While it's nice that Caddy's V-team is cranking out some potent cars, shouldn't they be potent to start with? More to the point, shouldn't they be THE most luxurious and stylish cars on planet earth? With timidity and badge engineering, GM has sucked the meaning out of all its brands except Hummer– and that's only because it's early days– and the Corvette (which isn't even a brand) For its miserable stewardship of some of America's most illustrious nameplates, GM deserves to die. Hopefully, post Chapter 11, someone who cares about cars will be able to ressurrect Cadillac's once proud reputation. 

  • avatar
    tom

    The Corvette actually is its own brand in Europe. But true, GM is pathetic when it comes to their brand management: They sell Asian Daewoos in Europe as American Chevys, they also sell Australian Holdens as American Pontiacs, European Opels as Chevys in South America, but as Saturns in North America, Holdens in Australia, Vauxhall in England and now also as Caddy in Europe, South Africa and Mexico…oh, and then there is Saab…

    I don’t know who comes up with this stuff, but it’s definately not helping GM.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I can’t help but to agree the Caddy name plate has been watered down.At this time GM is taking a shotgun aproach to marketing the thoughts are if it might work lets give it a whirl
    IMHO that before chapter 11,the board of directors and the share holders will step in.The whole company needs to be shook from the top to the bottom.
    I think that the threat of BK should be the motivater.
    I guess we wait and see

  • avatar
    HawaiiJim

    Author probably meant “amenable” not ”amendable” in the last paragraph. RF, feel free to delete this post.

  • avatar
    JJ

    It PAINS me that America can’t build the world’s best luxury car. Why the Hell not? We have the technology, the creativity, the passion, the market, everything.

    The creativity? probably
    The passion? Ok
    The market? ……I’m not sure

    As stated before by someone, In Europe competition is probably a lot harsher then in the USA (More brands bringing full lineups to the equasion + recreational truck market -and let’s face it, most trucks are sold for recreational purposes- is basically non-existend).

    As we all know by comparing it with Sowjet nations, most of the times competition leads to better product.

    Moreover, a luxury car is no longer defined as a car loaded with luxury, but more something like a car that has a “luxurious driving and overall experience” aka is sporty though confortable. The American manufacturers have neglected especially the driving bit for years and now have a hard time making up.

    On that note; landyacht isn’t just a suitable description of Ye Olde American cars because they are so big, but also because lots of people get seasick in them.

    Also, a Corvette has nice handling but it’s still no Porsche, yet it is seen by many as the best (and only) American sports car.

    Although I would mention Saleen to those people, obviously.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    What a hideous centre stack. The “Satin Nickel” framing is bilious. The controls look about as uplevel as a Corolla.

    And that rectangular clock surrounded by all the round controls stands out like a turd in a punch-bowl.

    Why not just sell more of the infinitely preferable 9-3s?

    I don’t get this car.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    Maybe BLS stands for B_L_S___!

    I went to the dealer years ago to test drive a Cimmeron. When I reached down to adjust the seat, the seat trim fell off. The engine was running rough and the AT shifted with a jerk. Not only was it about Chevy Vega qualty inside, everything I touched was misaligned during assembly, It took me about 30 seconds to tell the salesman “No dice”!

    Sounds like this is a smidgeon better, but not in the Cadillac league (or even approaching the Azera league).

  • avatar
    rashakor

    JJ you forgot technology…

    I don’t think USA has even that left…

    Yes they do pretty cool stuff with push rod engines… but that is about it…

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I was at the junkyard last week, found a late 80s Cimarron in there. I always thought the last Cimarrons (V6) had some spunk, by 1980s standards. I think the BLS is similar.

    Problem is, the Cimarron didn’t stand apart from the other J-cars and the BLS doesn’t fare much better from the Epsilons. But that’s in Europe. If gas prices stay high, I think the BLS could fare well in America. The Saab connection is weaker here.

    It worked for the ’75 Cadillac Seville!

  • avatar

    Americans haven’t had the desire to actually build a good car for a long time. Nobody says, let us build a car that is literally perfect in every way it can be. Let us copy everything good that is out there, put it all together, and add a little bit of something magic on top to make it the best the world has ever seen.

    Then let us price it as low as possible to start building up an image that is so sullied, so horrific, that it will take at least two more generations for those people to forget how much they have been screwed by inferior quality.

    It is not unique to American manufacturers, just watch Mercedes slowly erode its quality and how people are reacting to that.

  • avatar
    Roger Hislop

    > “…is far from the worst in the GM-lineup, and in size, design and price is rather sensible considering the european market.”
    > “It has a Saab content, which is a good thing, i think – certainly the reviews of the saab on which it is based have been good”
    > “And gang – Italian engines are the best in the world for torque and they sound”

    All true. And if one lists the positives of the new Cadillac, it is distressing that a proud buyer would only be able to boast those mentioned above. In America’s iconic luxury car you have a roll-call of non-American feats of engineering, from the platform, to the engines, to the manufacture. From the brand that defined international excellence in large luxury cars for decades.

    A luxury marque is built around the excellence of your vehicles, not your clever ability with sheet metal, a badge and a kitbag of features. Cadillac owners are not going to be proud of the level of corporate resource pooling that has gone into creating their cars, and they have the cash to buy something that actually is excellent.

    Manufacturers throw new models under different nameplates at a market, hoping some if it will stick, whether or not those models make sense for the brand concerned — or the brand that was plundered. The 2.5 do it the worst, and that includes the German part of the .5.

  • avatar
    tom

    akatsuki:

    Marketing 101:
    People don’t want the best product, but the best value.

    German companys traditionally had engineers up front, not marketing guys. That’s why they used to be so good and so expensive. Slowly the marketing guys took over. But thankfully, Dr. Z is an engineer not a marketing guy, so it might get better. Just wait for the next C-Class, I’m sure it’ll feature great quality again.

  • avatar

    jerseydevil says:
    I don’t feel this reviewer and others who start their reviews talking about chrome and 22 foot late 60’s barges are giving it a fair shot.

    Automakers cannot escape their heritage. Think about it, some marques evoke a specific image. Name a carmaker and that image pops into your head.

    Alfa Romeo: swooping roofed little car.
    BMW: The classic child’s “car” drawing, three blocks stacked in a sedan shape.
    Cadillac: finned impossibly horizontal luxobarge
    Corvette: sleek American sporty muscle
    Ferrari: sleeker and sexier than any Corvette
    Hummer: The gaudiest, ugliest-on-purpose SUV
    Jaguar: The iconic elongated oval shapes of the E-type and XJ
    Jeep: That stand-up slotted grille and boxy wheel arches
    Porsche: Somehow, they managed to make an old VW beetle look sleek and sexy.
    etc etc

    So when a marque tosses away the icons and styling cues that got them where they are in our mind’s eye, it is shocking at first – think Porsche’s front engine attempts in the 70s and 80s.
    If they continue down the path, to the point that GM has done to every one of its stable of names, it becomes so hopelessly diluted that we no longer know what “Cadillac” means.

    Is this what Cadillac means now? I hope not.

    –chuck

  • avatar

    In the second pic, something whiffs of Saturn LS. Look closely again from wheel to wheel and perhaps you will see what I mean. Maybe this is why it is called the B”LS”. LOL!

    No, (IMH and very subjective opinion) the creases and lines don’t seem to work on this car as they do on the CTS and STS. And the creeping headlamps seem misshapen and grotesque almost. I know this is becoming increasingly popular across all makers but it does nothing for me personally. Why not something new; a design departure even?

    Sad the quality and attention to detail appears to be lacking too. At this price point, this is positively unacceptable, even if the well-heeled can afford it. Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I still think you should get what you pay for.

  • avatar

    This is better than a Cimmaron. The Cimmaron looked much the same as the Cavalier, just with slightly different trim. The BLS at least has it’s own sheetmetal. No one will think it’s a Saab 9-3 at first glance.

    I also don’t buy that they’re ripping off the 300. This is quite simply a Saab 9-3 made to look like a Cadillac CTS. And the styling of the CTS has been polarizing, but it has also been a sales success.

    Inside, the resemblance to the Saab is greater. The chrome surround is coming to all Cadillac interiors. It’s already in the SRX.

    In the end, the main problem with this car is that the 9-3 also isn’t competitive in this segment. It’s been at or near the bottom of every comparison test in the U.S. (not sure about Europe). It’s not bad, but merely adequate in a segment that includes a number of stars. There’s not enough of the personality that used to make Saabs attractive to some people.

    And I suspect that the same is true of the BLS, there’s just not enough personality here to make anyone strongly desire the car.

  • avatar
    JJ

    It is not unique to American manufacturers, just watch Mercedes slowly erode its quality and how people are reacting to that.

    The truth.

  • avatar
    Luther

    It PAINS me that America can’t build the world’s best luxury car. Why the Hell not?

    Its borderline embarrassing as well and I dont have a “Nationalistic” bone in my body.

    Fire the MBAs, Get rid of the wussy-assed/cry-baby/parasitic labor laws, point the remote at the idiot box and hit “off”, stick the remote in ear and hit “on”, throw out the granola bars, run a mile, eat a ribeye, roll up sleeves, get to work.

    Would this make Toyota/Honda/BMW quake ? I would think so.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    well i dunno. Caddy is doin OK , i think, with the arts and science stuff, tho it is not to my liking personally. I was in a big DTS for a week, it was wonderful, if you like your living room to come with u on trips! Not a bad thing, really. Just not my cup of tea. But whispered conversations at 80 mph are possible with the rear seat occupants – it was magical.

    Even when i was a kid in the ’60′s and ’70′s, I knew that GM (and Ford,and Chrysler) had only a few cars really, that all the Buicks, Caddys, Pontiacs and Chevys, and Olds’ were really the same car, differentiated by trim, or fins, length, engines, perception of exclusivity – or something. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not (ala Cimmmaron) -all “badge engineering” all the time , I dont see how this is any different. Perhaps GM laid an egg here, i dunno, but the fact that cars share basic parts or even alot of parts is certainly nothing new to me, and not an instant disqualifier of whether a car is successfull or not. In America it is perhaps an instant disqualifier that your ride has a little deisel 4 in it – some people live and die for 0-60, which to me is completely irrelevant to the way a car feels.

    Gas not 35 cents a gallon any more. All the talk about global warming, wars for oil, this kinda stuff gets to ya, i guess. I expect a car to be hugely entertaining, frugal as an 18th century Quaker merchant, and cool looking too. I’ve had cars like this, I do now.

    Perhaps its time for a new paradym.

  • avatar

    I’ll give you a quarter for a new pair of dimes.

  • avatar
    i6

    Wow, pretty harsh review. There’s nothing actually wrong with the styling is there? So what if it doesn’t establish any new design frontiers for the brand, the aptly-designated ‘B’-car is expected to leech design cues off it’s bigger siblings instead. Something it does quite well. As much as it’s fun to say so, this is no more of Cimarron story than is the Focus-based Volvo S40. As for sales volume, come on! The thing doesn’t even exist in people’s minds yet. What with perception being reality and all it’s surprising they’ve sold a single one.

  • avatar
    Jay Shoemaker

    America lacks the arrogance needed to attempt the world’s best in anything. This is a two edged sword- we are nice people but we are boring and somewhat tasteless. We like to cookie cutter everything so we don’t have to make decisions that distract us from our email and cellphone calls.

  • avatar
    kestrel

    Haha the first thing I thought when I saw BLS was “basic life support.” Fitting I suppose.

  • avatar
    i6

    “America lacks the arrogance needed…”
    Boy that’s some troll bait if ever I’ve seen any.

  • avatar
    Luther

    America lacks the arrogance needed

    I think a better word is Strength.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Jay Shoemaker:

    americans do not lack arrogance.

    Taste, refinement, yes.

    Arrogance, never.

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    I think this issue of re-badged cars speaks volumes about the value GM puts on it’s own legacy. Buick may be hot in China, but is it really a Buick? There is nothing wrong with transplants when they build a local version of the domestic product, but it would appear that in GM’s opinion, a name is just a name. Take a car from any division and slap on different badges. Opels sold as Chevrolets, Saabs as Cadillacs etc. Is GM is the “President’s Choice” of automakers?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    pair of dimes

    hahaha i just got that

  • avatar

    I personally (no I am not a professional industry watcher) sense that Cadillac is going in the right direction. I like the edgy, creased styling generic across the brand – and I have to say I am seeing more caddies on the streets here in Central Ohio than ever before.

    Does it appear to be momentum? I think so. But what concerns me is what the 2.5 typically do with whatever little piece of momentum that they achieve. Rarely IMHO it seems is it sustained or evolved or taken to the next level. Yes there will aways be stinkers in every successful stable of vehicles, but a company committed to best of breed excellence and customer loyalty will advance, and those that are not will wither and die.

    I still really don’t like this car on its looks alone. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder then methinks I need to behold something else.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    My first car was an 11 year-old ’82 Cimarron, the first year they were sold. My dad bought it with just 52,000 miles on it (that was the selling point). It looked terrible and already had a rusted hole in the floor. It had a carbuerated 1.8 liter four and pleather seats. Save for an automatic Chevette, I don’t think there existed a slower car. The factory tape deck literally went up in smoke. I would’ve been in heaven to have something like this BLS. Not now. That was my first and last domestic.

  • avatar
    Colinpolyps

    Re Caddy BLS

    Well it certainly does have the blahs. Almost as exciting as my Camry. But I do have quality with that one.

    Time was when a luxury car meant quality. Not so today it would appear. It’s seems you almost have to go to pre-war to remember the the quality US marques, the Packards, Hudsons and Studebakers. Yep I am almost that old.

    While these fine pieces were expiring in the late 50′s (and yes they were ugly and ill-buillt by that time) the remainder in Detroit were busily engaged in perfecting badge engineering and kissing butt to the UAW, which if the truth be known has been the biggest contributer to the downfall of American quality.

    Save for the original TBird, the Corvette and perhaps the DMX 300 styling went out the window too.

    How can a company build quality while trying to hold prices in their niche, give a modicum of
    quality and pay off 1200 bucks per unit to the UAW pensioners and still expect to be profitable. Something has to give in that equation and it starts with quality.

  • avatar
    mbz16V

    The board members that approved the BLS should be catapulted off the top of GM’s skyscrapers.

    The first time they screw up they will get a parachute, but after that…well, I don’t think we’d have to worry about that.

    The problem is every time I read a review of the BLS I can’t stop thinking about how BLS is just one letter away from BS.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    A Cadillac Malibu? Didn’t Cadillac learn anything from the Cimarron fiasco? I guess they must figure since it happened over two decades ago, most people will have forgotten about it.

    B-grade, indeed…

  • avatar
    fahrvergnugen11

    Even crash test dummies refuse to ride in the thing…

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    well i think it looks cool from the pictures

  • avatar
    Ryan

    I’m torn on the BLS. It looks like a nice enough car, and the Saab-platform means it’s a step above the Cimmaron. But everything I’ve heard about it points to mediocrity.

    Still, it seems like both Cadillac and Lincoln have squandered much of their past cachet, and at the same time, been a little screwed over by the changing automotive market. Part of the reason they were so prestigous was because they were able to do something better than anyone else. They built huge comfortable land yachts, something that couldn’t quite fly in the European market where gas prices made such big engines prohibitively expensive for anyone local to build them. But then the gas crisis rolled around, and Cadillac had to downsize (while the Europeans were able to use their engineering to build bigger and bigger cars). Couple that with the yuppies in the 80′s, who didn’t want their father’s rolling sofa, and the domestics immediately lost years worth of prestige.

    They’ve made the concepts to show they could build world-class cars again (the Sixteen and the Continental), it’s just a matter of building them, and more importanty, if anyone’s willing to pay that much for an American car.

  • avatar
    durailer

    I can see this car’s positives on the global market, but as it stands, why not position it as an Opel and be done with it?

    This is just GM pandering to the upmarket buyers, sliding a near-luxury model under a once-exclusive badge. It’s a Catch22 -every BLS sold in Europe will chip away at the brand’s cachet. This car needs to be a class leader in every respect, with a price so high that you’ll only find them on drives paved in gold brick -then it’s a Caddy for the global market. The fact that it isn’t proves that GM doesn’t have the know how or guts to produce Caddies that rival the Bentleys, Rolls Royces, and MBs in the world.

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    Example of the bad marketing.

    1. They have not bought cadillac.se.

    2. When you go to the webpage, http://www.cadillacsverige.se/, you get a broken link when you try to read about the car!

    I mean, if this was 1995, perhaps it could have been acceptable. But really, being 2006, when was the last time you saw a broken link?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Another take on this: Without knowing all of the insider politics of GM, I’d say that there must be some US-based brand management team that is pushing to justify the existence of the US marques by claiming that they have international potential. Hence, the desire to do a job with a Caddy that GM should clearly fill with Opel-Vauxhall, or perhaps Saab.

    Let’s just face facts — the average European luxury sedan buyer wants absolutely, positively nothing to do with owning an American car. The few consumers in Europe who do like American cars like them because they are decidedly not European — they are bigger and brasher than anything on offer in the Old World.

    If you are going to market an American car in Europe, then the best way to do it would be to leverage some of the stereotypes already held about American vehicles, but then dial in enough finesse, build quality and handling to the mix that the American aspects can be accentuated in such a way that Europeans might like them. (Of course, a quality turbodiesel is essential in the European market.)

    The 300, Mustang and Corvette are examples of American cars that, with proper marketing and improvements in build quality, could develop strong niche appeal in Europe. They all have in common the fact that they are each distinctly American, and not similar to the many other cars that Europeans have to choose them. The European market is even more competitive than is the US, why anyone would think that this is a cherry worth picking is well beyond reason.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    They should have left out the L and simply called this car the BS.

  • avatar
    Roger Hislop

    The irksome thing is that there is no reason why American car companies cannot make products that are of a very high quality. All the ingredients are there… passionate personal interest, technical and engineering expertise, technology and systems, capital.

    Some American companies have been making the finest products of their type for decades. I have a Weber barbecue. It rocks. Leatherman multi-tool. Ditto. Cisco router. Adobe software. Fender guitar amp.

    But when the core business of a company gets subverted by marketroids and bureaucrats, it all goes south. Both marketroids and bureaucrats can come up with a thousand million plausible reasons why you should do things their way, and forget about the actual product you make for the people that actually buy it.

    It’s easy these days to spin the illusion that clever marketing is a substitute for excellent product. And with enough practice you can convince yourself that the sub-standard product is what you spin it as.

    The GM execs at the launch baldly said that the BLS competes with the C-Class and 3 Series.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I think that Lincoln should have the Continental, and Caddy should have the 16. But they should also have entry level cars, much as BMW,Mercedes, and Audi have relatively inexpensive cars also. All of these manufacturers have decontented entry level cars all over the place in Europe (they don’t send them here… YET…). Its perfectly rational that Caddy should have a less expensive car as well. This may or not be it, but complaining that cadillac makes no cars that you can’t afford sounds crazy. They need to sell cars, not put them on pedistals to gaze at. If Mercedes can sell the smart car for peanuts and and also a six figure luxo barge, cadilac can too!

  • avatar
    tom

    jerseydevil, Mercedes doesn’t sell the Smart Car, Smart does. However, I agree that luxury doesn’t only mean big and expensive cars. Smaller cars can be luxurious as well. The BLS is obviously not though.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    tom:
    well ya i know, but with a wink and a nod, everyone knows the smartcar is mercedes. My point is, and you have it, that even tho this is true, mercedes still has cachet.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Pch101

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Almost all of the American cars I’ve ever seen in Europe were in England. Among those, it was almost all Jeep Wranglers, Chrysler 300, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Chrysler Town and Country (marketed as Voyager, IIRC).

    All of them distinctly American in their own ways, but each offered with a Diesel and existing in a niche segment that doesn’t go head-to-head against the locals. DCX must be doing something right over there.

  • avatar

    Upmarket brands have no business selling downmarket products. None.

    The temptation is always there, but it should always be resisted.

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    Robert Farago:
    December 19th, 2006 at 5:28 pm
    Upmarket brands have no business selling downmarket products. None.

    The temptation is always there, but it should always be resisted.

    I totally agree. Though the problem for Cadillac would be that they had no car to sell at all.

  • avatar
    tom

    Robert Farago:
    Upmarket brands have no business selling downmarket products. None.

    The temptation is always there, but it should always be resisted.

    Well, it depends…If by downmarket you mean the BLS, I’d agree. But you can also offer luxury small cars. BMW 1-Series and Mercedes B-Class come to mind. Heck, the BLS was designed to compete against the Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class and the BMW 3-Series. Those cars are hardly downmarket.

  • avatar
    fred diesel

    Another slamfest for a car that doesnt exist here? I drive the closest thing there is, THE diesel Saab 93 in the US. With the ReaXs rear-steer and 40+ mpg and great low and high speed drivability unknown to NA autojournos, this car is no badge-engineered, “platform-sharing”, POS vanilla GM product. Unfortunately GM Detroit apparently has no clue so consequently the Americas will never see em.

  • avatar
    cyrez00

    JJ, the first mistake you made is to compare the BLS to a old fashioned Cadillac which it is not as Cadillac itself already stated several times to me.
    I’ve been driving an STS several years ago and although it is a brilliant car it is still an American boat which is also the reason it will never thrive on the european market and as the BLS will never work in the US because it is not a seasick making sailing boat.

    The BLS however, it’s badge engineered and blarblarblar but it is finally a EUROPEAN car.
    stop comparing to american cars but start comparing it to a top end Peugot for example (do they have any?) and you will see it is an awsome car for it’s class. it is sold in the Netherlands as a mid-range car and that is exactly what it is but it is in the top of mid-range i might say.

    Been test driving the BLS last week and i can assure you it will be ordered for me (via the company that is) because if i need to choose between Peugot or any other of that shit i rather go for the Caddy.

    Been with BMW….. (525i Touring) it’s ok but not ‘special’, it’s just an average car with some nice performance figures.
    The BLS instead made work of the interiour and gives you at least the feel for value of money, BMW and Merc are just dull and boring. they make sure you have no distractions from the road in their cockpits.

    Sorry to say but it is a very lame article you wrote, so lame that i actually took the effort to register on this site and respond to it. (says enough!!)

  • avatar
    TMS6G35

    What a sorry review. Could this guy be any more biased against Cadillac? The car’s styling looks pretty good, and tho I’m not crazy about a Cadillac based on a Saab, the fact that it shares no body panels hides the roots well. I think they could have chosen a better name – “BLS” looks like an abbreviation for bulls**t to me. But this is for Europe not America so I guess it doesn’t matter. I say good luck to Cadillac I hope the BLS is well built and sells well. Reviews like the one written Jehova Johnson are worthless.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    BLS must surely stand for Bland Little Sedan. Can you say Cimarron or The Caddy that Zigs. What a total modiocre yawn mobile. No wonder the General is in such trouble. And enough with the damn alphanumeric names. PLEASE stop the madness GM. No more name changes. No more rebadges. No more letter names. No more slab sided plain generic looking sedans or Toyota/Lexus/BMW clones.

  • avatar
    Oengus

    The price of the BLS is about the same as the BMW 3-series, that is one reason why they are not selling.

    They start at about $30,000.00 US, now correct me if I am wrong but if you are looking to gain market share you have to offer some advantage, like price?

    GM is going to make a second effort at the BLS, if they ever get that far? They will switch platforms and the BLS will get a new platform. That platform is rumored to be a universal platform, it can be configured with both front and rear drives.

    The next BLS will be rear-drive and priced to start at $34K, to high if you ask me. But that is in American, and what the base BMW starts for in the US. GM cannot compete head to head, they need to be comparable in quality and lower in price. The Saab 9-3 starts at 31K in the states, and that is reflected in the BLS asking price of 21,000 pounds in the UK.

    If you are looking for an entry level luxury car, that being a fuel efficient good performing car like a BMW 3 then why would you even consider the Cadillac? GM can say that their cars are just as good, heck they can say anything they want they are car salesmen. But they really need to say is, it cost less, drive them both and you decide.

    I do not think the writer ever drove the BLS or the a 9-3 turbo because if he did, then he may have written a different article…the BLS was priced to high to gain market share so is the Saab. Selling the 9-3 and the combi 9-3 as entry level Cadillac’s is one of those things that seems to make sense and it does actually. The pricing does not, the prices cannot be the same as the BMW they have to be less.

    People that want the BMW will get it, they will not pay the same price and get a Cadillac or a Saab. But if the cars are a couple of thousand less they might take a look, if they drive them then they would buy one, the 9-3 2.0 liter turbo with 210hp they sell in the US is a very good car. The 19/28 MPG is also good, not great but good.

  • avatar
    h1pudo

    Der Spiegel recently posted the flop-ten cars in 2009 in Germany. No. 2 was the BLS with 28 (twentyeight) sold in one year (all versions) to be topped only by the KIA Opirus with 12 pieces sold.
    And guess what: I am going to get me one. The distinguishing factor I was looking for is its uglyness, even more ugly than the KIA.  As the V6 in its luxury version (almost all-in) sells new for below 18,000 EURO (less than a Corsa, 60% off the list price!) I might get it a nice paint job.  As SAAB seems to be dead now the dealers will try to sell off their 28 demonstration cars but will not manage to do so. That’s going to be a collectors item.
     


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India