By on April 18, 2011

Cars like Cadillac’s 556 HP, rear-drive, manual transmission-equipped CTS-V SportWagon are the kind of offering that enthusiasts lust after, even if a relative “value-price” of $70k-ish keeps it in aspirational territory. And by offering a CTS “Performance Edition” with the option of mating a six-speed manual to GM’s well-liked 3.6 liter V6, Cadillac gives enthusiasts an appealing opportunity to bask in some of the V’s reflected glory. But apparently not many enthusiasts are interested in pursuing this opportunity, as InsideLine reports that the manual transmission option will be dropped from the 2012 CTS 3.6.

Manual transmissions will continue to be available on all versions of the CTS-V, as well as the base-edition CTS sedan. Unfortunately, this entry-level CTS is saddled to a 3.0 V6 that is widely derided for flaccid performance and poor fuel economy compared to the 3.6. In fact, the 2011 CTS 3.6 with manual transmission gets 16/25 MPG from the EPA, while the 3.0 manual gets 16/26, a fuel economy advantage just one MPG highway. Wait, didn’t we just go through this with the SRX?

Rather than beating GM over the head with the underachievement of its 3.0 V6, we’ll ask all you manual-loving enthusiasts out there why you haven’t been buying enough manual-equipped CTS 3.6s. Is the CTS simply an underwhelming enthusiast option, when not tuned to its maximum V potential? Does the transmission involvement matter less in a vehicle of the CTS’s size (I never missed it when I drove an autobox V, but 556 HP helps with that)? For all the work Cadillac has done to promote the CTS-V as a brand halo, it will want to understand why that halo isn’t helping sell enthusiast-oriented, non-V CTS models.

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45 Comments on “Cadillac CTS 3.6 Loses Manual Transmission For 2012...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Rather than beating GM over the head with the underachievement of its 3.0 V6, we’ll ask all you manual-loving enthusiasts out there why you haven’t been buying enough manual-equipped CTS 3.6s

    Because by the time you make the money required to buy a sports sedan, you either a) have a separate track toy and/or b) aren’t actually that much of an gearhead because the demands of your day job and/or c) have to commute to and from a downtown office every day, and stick would be a PITA (or rather, a PITC).

  • avatar
    twotone

    I’m a die-hard manual transmission BMW 3-Series guy, but I’d opt for an auto transmission with paddle shift on this car (or a 5 Series).

  • avatar
    beken

    With all due respect to all those GM supporters out there, I’m just not into GM cars anymore, let alone a manual GM transmission.
     
     
     
     

  • avatar
    Diesel Fuel Only

    Was it their own unit, or do they get it from some supplier?

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    When did the 3.6 get a manual as an option?  I thought there was only the automatic when it was released a few years ago.

  • avatar

    If I had the dough for this thing, i’d be spending it on a Boxster or Cayman. But like Advance_92, I didn’t have any idea it had a manual option, and so I suspect a lot of other people didn’t. If I had the dough and a family and had to have a 4-5 passenger, and if TrueDelta gave it a good reliability review, and if I liked the driving dynamics, I would probalby shop it against a 3 series.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Time to step back from the enthusiast’s viewpoint and into the real world of the car buying public. No one should be surprised enough manual transmissions were not sold to justify continuing to offer it. Let’s face it, probably 98 or 99% of CTS buyers would not want the manual tranny if the car was free.
     

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I think you’ve nailed it.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Three strikes:
    1) Cars in this class don’t sell well if they’re equipped with stick shifts. Even manual BMWs in my neck of the woods are fairly hard to find.
    2) Apparently Caddy did itself no favors with this particular unit, which wasn’t too hot to use per the reviews I read.
    3) Cars in this class have at least a “manumatic” transmission that gives the drive a lot of the stick shift “flavor” without having to shift all the time, and a car like a CTS is quick enough to begin with that the automatic doesn’t make the car feel all that much slower (the opposite of, say, a Corolla). 

    Ah well…

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Retired Orthodontists can’t backup manual cars out of the Golf-club parking lots.
     

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      A lot of people I knew bought one new stick car.  Subies, G35s, 4.6 Mustangs, Wranglers, fun stuff all of it.  And every one of them was replaced with an automatic something else inside of 5 years.
       
      Not because they retired, forgot how to drive and took up golf and levitra instead.  But because driving a stick in the traffic that’s omnipresent everywhere that income scales support buying new cars simply isn’t fun.
       

      • 0 avatar
        gessvt

        Sounds like your friends haven’t climbed high enough up that “scale” if they can only afford a daily driver.

      • 0 avatar
        ixim

        Driving in traffic with a stick? Not a problem. Just put ‘er in 1st or 2nd and use the clutch and the idle speed to chug, ever so slowly, until it clears. Yes, more trouble than an auto, but, actually, at least a little more fun.

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      The reality is that MOST people don’t use a manual transmission well enough to justify their having one. I dare say that even many ENTHUSIASTS such as readers of this blog even fall into this category.

      In real world driving most people will get as-good or better performance and fuel economy with an auto than they would with a manwelly.
       
      Then, if only they knew how to use the gas pedal properly they’d be laughing. (I’d explain what I mean but I can’t be bothered but there is a real skill involved that goes way beyond the superficial and obvious).
       
       

      • 0 avatar

        I totally agree with this above ^^^^. Honestly, most of those who crow about needing a manual trans suck mightily when it comes to actually driving them. I didn’t think it was that hard to operate a stick-shift vehicle smoothly in suburban driving, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve encountered with sticks who have the jerkiest, sloppiest, most nausea-inducing “driving techniques” around. (And given the way they rev, I doubt they’re saving much gas either).
         
        In other words: if you can’t actually shift like Schumacher, buy a slushbox and shut up. Your passengers will thank you.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    How many cars of this size and luxury level are offered with a stick in the US?  I’m guessing very few… BMW 5 series is the only thing that comes to mind.  The Camry and Accord 4 cylinders aren’t really in the same class with respect to luxury and refinement;  plus they are FWD.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The BMW 528i isn’t available with a stick anymore. The Acura TL AWD is available with a 6-speed, but the styling has made it a bit player in this market. As CAFE ratchets up, fewer and fewer manuals will be offered as manufacturers take advantage of the option of gaming automatics to spend all their time on the EPA test cycle in high gears, making for cars that perform like Janet Napolitano in the real world but give them an advantage on their CAFE report card.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    No surprise here.  Manual tranny’s don’t sell well here.  It was only a matter of time.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Well, there goes the last shred of my interest in this car.  Sure, you can still get a six on the 3.0, but that motor sucks.  And the CTS-V, I’m sorry, but I just don’t care about halo cars like that, even if they’re available as a wagon.

    Honestly, how hard is it to offer a manual as a special order-only option?  The street cred of offering it at all has got to be worth something.

  • avatar
    segfault

    Why is there all of that silver plastic on the console?  Very tacky.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      That’s the worst photo of the CTS interior I’ve ever seen.  The silver that you mentioned is made especially bad by the expanse of beige.

      As for the manual delete, could part of the reason be
      GM getting ready for the next CTS?

  • avatar
    ajla

    But you can still get a manual transmission on the Regal!

  • avatar
    Doc

    I would like to know how many people buy the 3.0 vs the 3.6 version. There is a huge price difference and I would bet that most people are buying this car against a 3 series or C class and opt for the cheaper 3.0. The small sales numbers (I am guessing) coupled with the relatively small percentage of people who buy manuals probably means that this does not make sense for GM to offer.
    Any one know the numbers? 3.0 vs 3.6 sales?

    • 0 avatar
      Doc

      Looking at the Cadillac website, the base model starts at 35k while the highest model (3.6 Premium) starts at over 47k.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I looked at the first generation CTS when BMW stopped making BMWs. They were all over billboards with $29,995 in giant digits. I was looking for a family member that wanted an automatic, which meant getting the 3.6 V6 instead of the base engine(might have been 2.8 then, I don’t recall), which meant getting a trim level with a heavy option load, which meant that the boxy car that everyone saw on billboards being advertised under $30K would have had an invoice of $41K+. I can’t believe many people bought the poverty-spec, small engine, mandatory stick price leader model, but eveyone who bought one with the level of equipment expected in a near luxury car had the priviledge of paying over $40K for a car their neighbors thought was priced against v6 family sedans.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, the 3.6 in itself bumps the price by $1,800. Not small, but not large. The problem is they don’t offer the 3.6 in the lower trim levels, so the cheapest 3.0 is considerably less than the cheapest 3.6:

      http://www.truedelta.com/prices.php

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I love sticks as much as the next guy, but even I got the DSG for my GTI.  I do a ton of driving in traffic, and we have an MR2 with a stick.

    IMO, cars like the CTS would benefit much more from a dual clutch box like the DSG than with a regular stick.  Better performance along with the easy driving in traffic.

  • avatar
    cirats

    I am the target demo for this car and would have seriously considered it for my next car with a stick and the 3.6, especially in wagon form.  I’ll likely be buying again within the next 12 months.  Alas . . . . 

    So what do I get instead?  3-series wagon?  I’ve been driving a BMW for 6 years and am ready for a change.  Please help – looking for a stylish (in an adult-oriented way) hatch or wagon with MT, RWD and decent power and handling.  Is there even such a car any more?  Something like an Infiniti EX might be perfect, but no MT is offered.  Audi A3 or A4 w/ quattro??  Seriously, help me out here!!!

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I was going to suggest the unfortunate looking Porsche Panamera, but it turns out they’re all automatics.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      cirats
       
      You’re out of luck on the 3series wagon, I don’t think they offer a stick there anymore, neither does the A4 and especially not any Benz. Off the top of my head the CTS-V is the only premium manual wagon available (but only in expensive V spec obviously). The A3 is ok, but you’ll be in what is basically a FWD car with a bit of AWD, it’s not going to feel rear driven by any means, in my opinion the GTI makes more sense or the upcoming Golf-R (twin to the TT-S), but neither is what you are really looking for. If you do get stuck with a haldex (from any brand) you can always upgrade the system to lock sooner and send more power rearwards, but again, not ideal.
      From what I recall last year saw an uptick in manual transmission sales overall, but I wouldn’t be suprised if most of that growth took place at lower price points than this. I konw more and more people buying manual Subbies, VW’s and Honda’s, but the upscale buyers I’m exposed to are almost universally slushbox operators.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I feel your pain, but unfortunately I think you are a member of an extremely small group of consumers and the manufacturers cannot (or will not) make a business case providing the product you are looking for.

      IMO, at the higher price ranges you are basically better off with 2 vehicles… a daily driver unscale sports sedan or wagon with an auto, or preferably an auto-manual, and a toy, a dedicated sports car with a stick.

      But I do have to say, I TRULY enjoy the DSG in my GTI, and they use the same transmission in many Audi products.  Yes, it is a compromise, but its really not a bad compromise.  Performance is better and its not simply an automatic with “flappy paddles”, you can do all the same things with the DSG that you do with a regular manual, except slip the clutch at launch.  Thats pretty much my only complaint, off-the-line take off is not as instantaneous as I am used to. 

      If you look at it from a business standpoint, you should appreciate that these trans are even offered.  Manufacturers spend a lot of money developing a solution like the DSG that appeals to most enthusiasts, and still meets the needs of the drivers who dont care, they just want an automatic.  They dont HAVE to do that, they can just stick a regular auto-box on there and really wont lose much market share.

    • 0 avatar
      Diesel Fuel Only

      The last gen. of Jetta Sportwagen came with a stick, don’t know if the current Jetta has the sportwagen configuration.
       
      If you were Canadian you could get a Golf “highline” which has leather and lots of options and if you were European you could get what is essentially a Golf “estate”, which has a longer overhang in back for a bigger cargo area.
       
      Of course, it’d be FWD.
       
      Sort of goes to the point that the manufacturer doesn’t seem to feel the need to offer US buyers these variants of a car that’s already sold in the US.  Face it, we’re in an an automotive “first tier” market when it comes to volume and “second tier” or lower when it comes to flavors.
       
      This sort of thing goes way back.  Ever seen a MT Mercedes 300D?  I think that there were a few here, not many…but in Europe the manual was standard equipment, the AT we had as standard was an extra option…on a full-sized diesel car!

      • 0 avatar
        SimonAlberta

        This issue of the European market offering more variants has been established for decades. It is because most cars there are “company” purchases and makers have to offer multiple trim and powertrain options because companies use them as rewards/incentives/status symbols for their employees.

  • avatar

    I don’t know what we’re expecting here. CTS without V is not an enthusiast’s car.

  • avatar
    william442

    What the CTS really needs is visibility, especially to the rear.Dealers that wanted to sell the cars, rather than their inventory, would help also.
    BMW,s start assist works well by the way, with the manual.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    It’s nice to see mature, rational comments on the subject of automatics crowding manuals out of the market, particularly in the near-luxury and luxury segments.
     
    In the past we’ve been treated to repeated choruses of, “You say they won’t sell? Well, I’d buy one!” Yeah,right. And quite possibly the comments of a 17-year-old who can barely drive Mom’s Sonata.
     
    In this post-economic meltdown world – with still-lingering uncertainty – even enthusiasts recognize that automakers must make cars and make money. It’s likely that the manual’s sales volumes are simply not high enough to cover the cost of EPA certification, which must be done for each powertrain combination.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Lack of sales and CAFE along with arthritic left legs don’t make this feasible. It’s same group think that if two models have manuals, the third must have it too.

    Besides it’s probably the same Aisin used in the 3.0!

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I test drove the CTS coupe a few weeks ago, but the dealer did not have a manual transmission car to try. I am having a hard enough time coming up with a manual transmissioned A5 to test drive, let alone the Caddy. (The Audi dealer had a new A5 with a manual which I drove, but the new one only has a four cylinder, and I would like the previous version with the six).  The Cadillac CTS Coupe just felt too much like a luxury car, and not sporting enough.  My wife even felt that the A5 was a bit big and floaty, but it still felt more athletic than the Cadillac. I did alarm the CTS salesman a bit when I came back to the dealer at a pretty good clip and did a double downshift with the manumatic before pulling back into their driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Would not surprise me if the reason they didn’t have a manual transmission model in stock is because they’ve yet to sell the first one in any CTS bodystyle.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    No surprises here, old people don’t buy stick shifts. Buicks with stick shifts are poor sellers as well.

    Enthusiasts will buy stick shift cars and that’s why BMW, Inifiniti and Audi continue to offer them.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Well said.
      I just looked on Autotrader for grins and within a 50 mile radius of me there are:
       
      26 new BMWs with manual transmissions (out of 286)
      17 new Audis with manual transmissions (out of 186)
      0 new Infinitis with manual transmissions (out of 200!!) But there are 143 manual Infinitis for sale in total on dealer lots in the US.
      7 new Cadillacs with manual transmissions (4 are CTS-V, 3 are 3.0 liter V6 – out of 256 total)
       
      And which carmaker seems to have the highest proportion of manual transmissions in relation to total dealer stock in my area (excepting low volume cars like Lotus and various exotics)? Porsche. 35 cars with manual transmissions out of 80 new cars total on dealer lots.

      • 0 avatar
        Diesel Fuel Only

        A rather high proportion of VW’s have MT’s and an even higher percentage of TDI’s have MT’s, but of course these are by and large not your typical car buyers.
         
        i don’t remember where I saw the figure but MT’s may be a majority of TDI sales (not counting that yoiu cannot get a true AT on a TDI, the other option is the DSG, which is a self-shifting gearbox with two clutches).
         
        Full disclosure, my Golf TDI is a 6-speed.


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