By on August 24, 2013

cadillacbls

We’ve made it pretty plain that the floor is definitely open here at TTAC for reader contributions of all types. Most of all, we’d like you to contribute cash via Paypal, or buy something from Derek’s Amazon wishlist, but if pressed we will also accept Sunday Stories, reader-ride reviews, editorials, and all sorts of other features.

It’s possible, however, that you don’t want to write for TTAC at all. You want to write for a major automotive publication or the “wheels” section of a newspaper. If that’s the case, you’ll need to learn how to slam the holy hell out of a manufacturer without appearing to have done so. One of the most frequent ways in which this happens is the “First Paragraph Of The C/D First Drive” technique. It goes like so:

The last generation of this car, the KLF-1000000, was noisy, slow, overpriced, underpowered, smelled bad on the inside, and killed one of our road test crew when the airbag module spontaneously deployed and fired several “caltrops” into his aorta. However, the new KLF-1000001 romps through the quarter-mile in a robust 7.3 seconds, cures cancer at a distance, and comes with never-before-seen nude photos of Katy Perry in the owners manual.

Absolutely flabbergasted by this, you’ll reach into your basement archives to find the test of the KLF-1000000 from five years ago, and it will read

The last generation of this car, the KLF-999999, leaked nuclear waste into swimming pools, actively recruited children into Joseph Kony’s army, and, when ordered with the special Recaro seats, raped approximately one in 1.2 female purchasers. However, the new KLF-1000000 romps through the quarter-mile in a robust 19.3 seconds, is projected to obtain 73 EPA rolling-down-a-hill-in-neutral MPG, and will be instrumental in the election of our country’s first female president, Hillary Clinton.

It’s an unwritten rule of the PR endless party: you get one chance to copiously shit all over a car, and that’s when it’s being replaced. If you do it before then, welcome to the blacklist, we’ve got fun and games. Get it?

This morning, Clarke Bowling of the New York Daily News took that unwritten rule and made it awesome. In his must-read article “From the Cimarron to the 2014 Cadillac ATS: How the compact Cadillac has changed”, Clarke puts up six photos of the Cimarron before reminding the readers how hard the Catera sucked. He also mentions the Euro-only Cadillac BLS, which was utterly savaged on these pages seven years ago. Please give Clarke a click on this and help him keep his job, which is probably not as secure today as it was yesterday. He leads the article with this fantastic image:

cadillac-lead

Ooh, that’s great. Let’s see it again:

cadillac-lead

Now with Photoshop!

justlike

Brilliant. To be fair, Clarke isn’t responsible for that image; I am. But you get the idea. Give the man a click, show him some love. Some time in the next few weeks, Clarke will get the message from someone somewhere that we don’t talk about the Cimarron any more, or the Catera, or the God-damned BLS! We need to be on-message with the ATS. Don’t wait until after six f**kin’ picture of the Cimarron to talk about the ATS. And another petal of innocence will fall from the flower of automotive journalism.

You can say you knew it was going to happen.

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82 Comments on “From The NY Daily News, A Masterpiece Of Passive Aggression...”


  • avatar
    Sam P

    “the ATS starts off with a standard 2.5-liter I-4 engine making 202 horsepower.”

    AKA the modern day Iron Duke.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      The Ecotec engine family has made Ward’s top 10 engine list several times. It certainly is no Iron Duke!

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        +1

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        Tell that to my last rental Malibu. Plenty of NVH and uninspiring engine sounds.

        A Honda K24Z3 it is not.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        The comparison is fair. All engines have become more refined over the decades to the point where the Ecotec is refined enough for the Cruze and base Malibu, but isn’t competitive at the ATS price point.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          The 2.5-liter four is also the base engine in the 2014 Chevrolet Impala…and I’ve been trying to see if anyone finds it inadequate or if it’s really worth considering. I guess the way it works is that the LS, 1LT and 1LZ all have the 2.5-liter, while the 2LT and 2LZ have the 3.6-liter. They’re also going to have that eAssist technology in the way of an (older) 2.4-liter mild-hybrid. They’ll probably call that 1SA and 2SA, as in the Malibu.

    • 0 avatar
      kjb911

      *sigh* I still miss my Duke of Iron Fiero…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The standard four cylinder was the biggest mistake, esp at a car starting at $33,065 as pointed out in the article. So I can buy 2014 <3K otc Impala Classic with standard V6 at the auction for maybe 16s, but your 30K+ CADILLAC customers want your corporate four banger in their Detriot E46 copy?

      For the record I would buy a new MY88 Cimmaron for the right price, hell of alot better value than the Catera.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I agree. The other luxury cars that have four-cylinder engines–like the 3-Series, 5-Series, A4, A6, and XF–all have turbocharged ones making near-to-V6 power. Even Mercedes-Benz’ C250 and its lowly 1.8-liter turbo is more prestigious. It’s bad enough that the top engine for the ATS is GM’s ubiquitous 3.6-liter engine; the 2.5-liter has absolutely no place there. GM should get rid of it and make the 2.5-liter standard, with the 3.6-liter optional and the 3.6-liter twin-turbo for the ATS-V. Then they can go about making Cadillac its own unique V6.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Where is the box to click for him to be fired?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Wow. Just wow. Let me take this opportunity to insert Jack’s wonderful article about how the ATS needs a V8 standard to save it from the ash-heap of automotive history.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/how-gm-could-save-the-cadillac-ats-from-its-otherwise-inevitable-fate-of-complete-marketplace-failure/

    Forgive me but I like the BLS styling better than its Saab donor car. It reminds me of an STS wagon. (Yes I did click on the article mentioned just because brave journalists need a boost.)

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    For some stupid reason, automotive journalists always say the next generation of Corolla and Camry handle sooooo much better than the last. They all drive completely the same!

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      it’s why the mainstream automotive press is as worthless as the mainstream press. they won’t dare say anything unsafe lest they lose “access” to the “important” people. ‘s what Jack means when he refers to “blacklisting.”

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Not true based on Camry rental car experience. The 2008 Camry LE drove as if there was no solid connection between the car and the road. The refreshed 2010 Camry SE received an acceptable non-floaty suspension and much better steering feel. The 2012 Camry LE drives better than the overly soft previous model, but for the 2012 SE, much of the nice upgrades of the 2010-2011 SE version have been cost-reduced out of existence.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Jack, Cadillac on line one… They have some ideas on where they’d like to park their Cimarron. They also said they regretted that it didn’t have, let’s see, oh yeah, “Fins like a ’59″

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    Where is all the bloviating about how the HS250h was an unmitigated failure? Hybrid AND soft FWD faux-lux are the only two things they do well and OMGZ even Lexus craps the bed every now and then (a lot).

  • avatar
    bikephil

    Hillary Clinton needs to go to prison, that traitor bit^#.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I clicked and I read. That was a terrible article, horribly written and made no sense, there was no order, not really any review, just a few oddly organized “facts” about the older compact Caddys and a few facts about the new one. I didn’t even read too much snark in it, it was mostly inoffensive.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      Yah, that article is pretty much a non-issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Definitely disorganized, but I enjoyed the Cimmaron pr0n. I’d forgotten that they tweaked the sheetmetal on later models, didn’t look half bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      I’m glad someone commented on the article.
      The whole article was:
      Cadillac built a small car.
      Didn’t sell well.
      Kept trying, still didn’t sell well.
      Made a Europe only small car.
      And now we have the ATS.
      (Insert stock photos between lines)

      Not what it could have been:
      Cadillac built a small car. Sales sucked so badly because it was just a (lightly) tarted up Cavalier.
      Cadillac was shocked that they couldn’t pull the wool over America’s eyes. Heck, even my Mom knew it was tarted up Chevy and she knew next to nothing about cars.
      Cadillac tried for six desperate years to differentiate the Cimarron from its badge-engineered cousins to no avail.
      Cadillac tried again with the Catera but failed again due to questionable reliability and styling so boring it put the “b” in bland.
      Now we have the ATS. Is it the perfect 3-fighter they wanted it to be? Not yet, but if they’re this close for it’s first release, think what a few years refinement can do
      (Insert better variety of stock photos between lines)

      There, I just wrote a better article, but it was shorter because I don’t have the stock photos handy

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I believe that was intended to be a “we’ve come a long way, baby” retrospective, not a review of the current car. The article assumes that you already know that the ATS is (finally) class-competitive.

    Their review of the car was written by someone else, and it’s fairly upbeat: http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/latest-reviews/2013-cadillac-ats-caffeinated-four-door-firecracker-article-1.1264544

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      You know how some say authorial intent is irrelevant…

      I’m sure you’re correct. But, it ended up as a display of all their greatest failures of the past 30 years, before a brief mention at the end that the new one is all right.

      It was clumsily put together and I see what Jack is saying. Doesn’t help that you could mirror one photo in that diptych and they would be very similar pictures.

  • avatar
    SayMyName

    Well, that certainly won’t help move ATSs gathering dust on dealer lots across the country.

    Unfair or not – and even I think the constant Cimarron/Catera references are piling on – GM’s past is its own worst enemy, with its insistence on BMW-level MSRPs close behind.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    All that article showed me was that cars are much larger now and have more styling. I learned nothing about the ATS except that it also has a four cylinder engine and “enough power to keep the imports at bay”. Did they steal the copy from Motor Trend?

    Who else knew the first black one with the awful gold was the D’Oro(sp?) package? Stupid brain, picking up useless facts and keeping them…

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Your spelling’s correct!

      Geez, take away the leather, Twilight Sentinel, high-end Delco stereo, and two doors (and add a hatch body), and you have a Pontiac Sunbird/Chevy Cavalier hatch, like my 2nd car! (I don’t count the Olds Firenza or the Buick Skyhawk here because they were introduced later as slightly upscale variants versus the latter two. All the hard points in the interior of a Cavalier and Cimmaron were identical, so IIRC from other posts on this site, folks would take the leather seats out of a wrecked Caddy and put them in their Cavy!)

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The ultimate example of this phenomenon is the Porsche 911. Not only has it been around the longest, it is also the cover art thought to sell magazines and has the most flawed design. There has never been a 911 update intro that doesn’t start with a discussion about how the snap oversteer has been cured. Starting with the longer wheelbase about 45 years ago, progressing through staggered tire sizes, better tires, revised geometry, different steering, different springs, different rear suspension, different everything, electronic chassis management…etc.. Journalists will never run out of ways the new 911 finally fixes the fatal flaw of the last one.

  • avatar
    David Walton

    Brilliant, JB.

    Check out some of the reviews of the new 991 GT3 for more of the same.

  • avatar

    Anyone who has ever been deployed to a undisclosed Southeast Asia location knows one or both of two places; the Thirsty Camel or the Bra. I am at the former and just laughed so loud people noticed.

    Well played Mr Bowling, and Mr Baruth.
    Rock on

  • avatar
    Petra

    What the KLF-1000000 might look like:

    http://pics.imcdb.org/0is825/timelordsdoctorinthetar.3585.jpg

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “It’s an unwritten rule of the PR endless party: you get one chance to copiously shit all over a car, and that’s when it’s being replaced. If you do it before then, welcome to the blacklist, we’ve got fun and games. Get it?”

    Thx Jack for that bit of insight into the automotive world. However I believe it helps expose the fact the automotive journalism industry is a total fraud. If a journalist can put together an interesting or even critical op-ed piece on a model he should be free to do it at any time, not only when the powers that be determine it’s safe to do so (in order to help sell the new model of course). Not only do I hope Mr. Bowling retains his position at NY Daily News, I hope he wins a Pulitzer for having the balls to go against the establishment.

    • 0 avatar
      Reptarcar

      Reading through this article, the original article by Clarke Bowling, and the comments here in TTAC has been great fun and a little surreal.

      I don’t think Clarke was being ballsy per se, at least maybe not knowingly so. I am not entirely certain he knows he broke an unwritten auto journalism rule even. Honestly, I don’t think he would have known what a Cimarron was before writing his article. I have known Clarke through personal connections for almost 15 years, and my head exploded a little a month ago when I learned he is writing about cars. Not being a “car guy” in the least bit, this really was a surprise to me.

      This was for me a moment of clarity in which it suddenly became obvious why so many “reviews” regurgitate the same facts and call it a day. Being an auto journalist can apparently be a “learn on the job” profession. When every publication apparently needs to produce car reviews, all you really need is Google in order to fill in the page.

  • avatar
    gsnfan

    How do you get an ATS up to $60K?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Um, well, this journalistic technique is used nearly EVERYWHERE – including here – to describe the entire product line of Hyundai/Kia before 20xy (choose your year here).

    Seems nobody can discuss the latest H/K product without mentioning this Universal Truth.

  • avatar

    so does the white wagon come with a V8?

  • avatar

    Wow! What an idiot came up with the idea of selling the FWD atrocity called BLS, in Europe? I know Americans are delusional but I could not imagine to that extent! Opel Omega and Ford Scorpio were kind of premium midsize cars but still far behind Mercedes and BMW, and even Audi, and then this market disappeared. I remember there were plans to replace Scorpio with new Lincoln LS, they would probably still call it Ford because it would not be competitive with Mercedes and BMW. I do not think ATS can beat BMW even in USA. It would be competitive some 15 years ago but Germans got so much advanced over the years while Americans were sleeping that it is next to impossible to catch up with them even for Japanese. You need German engineers, German culture, to feel like German be aable to come up with Mercedes/BMW challenger. Being just perfectionist (which Americans are not but Japanese are) is not enough to beat Germans. You have to come up with something unexpected to beat them, like severely harsh winter or A-bomb or Tesla. Tesla may stay away from Germans for some time but eventually Germans will catch up or just outright buy Tesla.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Huh. C/D hit piece eh? I dunno why you guys bother – its a well written magazine – and I have found it to be spot on if you read there descriptions of the car. (You can often disagree with their conclusions).

    They write plenty of bad stuff about cars in the comparisons.. I just think Jack’s whole concept for this article is bankrupt.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I’ve been reading Car and Driver since 1976 and uninterruptedly from about ’78 to ’05 or so. I was a fan for a long time. And I saw them do the above-mentioned trick so many times it’s not worth it to point to, say, five examples.

      It’s a rule of thumb at that magazine that the older the car, the more faults will “appear”. That’s been the case since, oh, they got the Maxima stuck in Baja. Maybe before then. Feel free to spend ten bucks on this if you need reminding:

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAR-and-DRIVER-Magazine-May-1979-Chevy-Citation-X11-V-6-/200737383159

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      C&D /was/ a good mag, back when it was run by people like Yates and Ceppos and engineers like Csere and Bedard. Now it’s just the same crop of schmucks like Dan Pund who hop from publication to publication and have few new or interesting things to say.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        As a reader since my parents started a car search in 1978, CandD is far worse now than you describe.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I was an avid reader until about 10 years ago. I mean I used to get antsy if my issue was a couple of days late in the mail. I’d be livid if the new issue was at the airport before I got it in the mail.
        Sat down and pored over every article cover to cover.

        Then the internet happened, which gives me fresher news from a variety of perspectives and decently handles my attention span.

        For the record, I think the BLS wagon is the pretty cool…

        • 0 avatar
          chuckrs

          BLS wagon? I thought white was an odd color choice for a hearse.

          • 0 avatar
            CelticPete

            I get your point Jack – that C and D will hit you with some “why didn’t you tell me this before.’ But I find if you read their articles carefully they generally let the ‘truth’ out there..

            Yes its true they deal with the devil to get access to so many fine cars. But that pays off too – because they have better information and better reviews about those same cars well ahead of time.

            Dealing with the devil has its benefits. :P The guys at C/D are generally decent drivers who have driven a lot of new model cars – and thus are well equipped to make important observations on vehicles. Also they have very skilled writers.

            TTAC OTOH needs to resort to rentals and produce reviews that are sometimes amateur sounding..

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Boy, that Cimmaron was a good-looking and comfortable car in its day.

    Actually, it was predicting the future.

    People nowadays are snapping up smaller, yet loaded with all the comforts, sedans.

    Cadillac was 25 years ahead of its time.

    • 0 avatar
      Austin Greene

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Yeah, except that Cimmaron looked and drove like a Cavalier. So, yeah, I suppose if you consider a Cavalier good looking and comfy then I can’t fault your logic. I had a Buick J-Body and I thought it was a pile of crap. There was a reason it was an abject failure at competing with those smaller, yet loaded with comforts Mercedes sedans. Which is why it even existed. If the Cimmaron had half the sophistication of a Ford Focus Titanium or even a loaded Chevy Cruze it may have been a different story.

      In retrospect, can’t tell if trolling? If so, eat up.

  • avatar
    msquare

    OK, so he crams in a bunch of 30-year-old Cimarron pics to get his point across, but is it a valid one?

    The Cimarron was an example of Cadillac and GM generally losing the plot. They wanted Cadillac to compete with BMW and Mercedes but didn’t know how, hence all the confusion that followed with Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Saturn reinventing themselves into oblivion.

    It has been well documented all over the media why the ATS is no Cimarron, its premium platform being one of the reasons. And with the 3-series and A4 coming with 4-cylinder engines standard, what’s the beef there?

    Bullshit happens all over the automotive media. Witness Ferrari and the lame reasons Clarkson gave as to why the McLaren MP4-12C wasn’t as good as the 458 Italia.

    Evaluate the ATS on its own merits, please, not on some 30-year-old shitboxes many of its buyers barely remember.

  • avatar

    How about this pearl:

    “We Like: Steering feel, quiet interior, strong engines…Reynolds: “I swear it has worse dynamics than its predecessor. The front end’s reaction to moderately energetic steering inputs is rubbery and springy. And its response to high-g aggressive maneuvers is positively weird, with a strange steering effort feedback going on that seems artificial and confused at times.”

    It is about the same car – Ford Fusion, Motor Trends COTY 2013.
    http://www.motortrend.com/oftheyear/car/1301_2013_motor_trend_car_of_the_year_contenders_and_finalists/viewall.html#ixzz2cxeshvJ3

  • avatar
    Speedster356

    Top Gear UK s20e06 (latest).
    They trashed the previous Range Rover just to praise the new model!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      They did that with the Jag XJ as well. He said it was fantastic, then when the new one came out, pointed out 50 things wrong with the old one. I was like WTF as I watched it.

      Though Clarkson does that a lot, since the 1990s.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Why does it have to be a big V8 to set the Nurburgring on fire or cheesy V6 or FWD 4cyl?

    Just put a regular, all aluminum, 5.3 V8 with the latest tech in every Cadillac and move on. Let BMW and Audi be who they are and let the Cimarron RIP.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Well, at least when you were in a Cimmaron, everyone KNEW it was a Cadillac.

      Nowadays, with everyone, including Cadillac, using the alphabet soup labels, nobody knows what refers to what.

      Put a 5.3 Chevy engine in every Cadillac. Put a Cadillac plastic engine cover on it. Nobody will be the wiser. Stomp the competition with cubic inches. Put the 2.0 4 cylinder turbos out to pasture before they grenade dragging around 4500 pound cars.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        In the same vein; make GM’s biggest V6 standard in all Cadillacs, the Corvette engine an option, a stupidly torquey truck engine optional in the ‘Sclade, and 4cy turbo optional in the ATS, and an optional handling package too. I think GM has used “GM’ and not brand-specific engines since the mid-70′s. I could easily be wrong and welcome knowledge from the B&B’s GM experts on that one. I remember Dad having a fit about his Pontiac not available with a Pontiac engine. He went to Caddy, now rolls in a Suburban LTZ.

        • 0 avatar
          doctor olds

          @el scotto- Divisional engines are history. To summarize the evolution:
          1897 Oldsmobile Engine Engineering Department
          1984=>BOC Powertrain – Lansing
          1997=>GM Engine Division
          1998=>GM Powertrain Division
          1998-9=>GM Powertrain Group- World engines/transmissions/axles engineering and manufacturing)
          Global PT engineering and manufacturing HQ in Pontiac, MI where I retired in 2008.

          GM Powertrain is now part of GM’s Global Product Development System and GM Manufacturing System.

          We had Ultra V8 a 32V DOHC successor to Northstar fully developed. It was incredible to see. Looked like it was forged out of a solid block of aluminum. I saw one in an Aussie built, Middle East Caprice before I retired in ’08, but didn’t get a drive. That engine was shelved for lack of the huge capital investment to tool production. I ran into Jordon Lee last year and asked if it would be resurrected and he told me it was unlikely, DOHC based on the Small Block V8 seemed more likely. I hope not to be betraying a confidence. Jordon is the Small Block Chief Engineer and I’ve known him since he got his start in Lansing.

          There was a development buck with DOHC even cooler than the UV8, with incredible power potential. I saw it before I retired. One of the cool side benefits of my assignments was access to product plans and development bucks requiring secure access. I miss that kind of stuff.
          I have no idea what the plan is today, but LT1, which in naturally aspirated form exceeds a BMW turbo V8 in every possible measure, but snob appeal, will see applications enthusiasts will love, imho.
          Some think the ATS-V will have a 3.6L twin-turbo as is becoming available in CTS and XTS. Its is only 420 HP now.
          If you want more power, it won’t be much longer!

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Wasn’t there a V16 production mule running around about the same time as the Caddy show car that had a V16? I heard it was installed in a Yukon and the engineers had a hard time keeping the tires from spinning all the way from a dead stop until the transmission hit 3rd gear!

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I never saw any media outlet mention it (probably because only I care), but as far as I can tell when the old 4.3L V6 ends production this year it will be the last remnant of “divisional” engines, and was the last engine with a direct tie to the first generation Chevy small block V8.

          • 0 avatar
            doctor olds

            @PrincipalDan- Yes, there was a Yukon (or Tahoe, perhaps) that was at a Car show at GM Powertrain HQ. The front end was extended a foot or so, it looked weird. I knew the program manager from when he was at Cadillac and we provided them 5.0L engines,years ago. He didn’t describe the performance, said doing the program was great fun, though. The 830CI small block derivative reportedly made 1,000 HP and 1,000 ft-lb of torque. no surprise if it could cook the tires!

            @Ajla- I think you are right about the outgoing iron block 4.3L. It would be the last of the divisional engines. There may be 3.0L iron dukes being built in Mexico for irrigation/industrial use, not sure the current state, memory is fuzzy.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    I find the biggest problem with English-language discussion of cars is that it either comes from North American journalists having to play a corporate game, or the UK press who exhibit tremendous biases in terms of branding and national origin. Either way, the result is rather poor insight into the cars themselves.

    Car Graphic in Japan in their June issue this year compared a BMW 328 and an ATS with the 2 litre turbo. They preferred the Caddy, even though it only came in left hand drive.

  • avatar
    ash78

    1976: My great uncle Friedrich had a 15-year-old Spanish girlfriend during his travels across Europe.

    2013: Is ash78 a pedophile?

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    Jack you keep referring writers for the “Wheels” section of newspapers. Except for the major metro or national dailies, do those even exist anymore? Aren’t they all outsourced to Wheelbase Communications or some similar syndicator? In fact a story about that trend might be a worthy topic for TTAC.


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