Different cars serve different purposes. Of course, you already know this. You know, for example, that people buy compact cars for fuel economy. People buy minivans to haul other people. And people buy Acuras because they’re confused.
So why do people buy station wagons? For practicality, of course. People buy wagons so they can pack up all their belongings, load them inside the cargo area, and hand the keys to a car transporter who makes constant runs between Greenwich, Connecticut, and Palm Beach.
Upon graduation from Belfast Teacher’s Training College in the late ’60s, my father found himself summoned into the headmaster’s office. A heavy oaken drawer was opened and an object placed upon the green baize of the blotting pad: “Ye’ll be needin’ this.”
“This” was the strap, thick leather symbol of martial law in the classroom. Dad left it lying where it was, left behind the tobacco-scented claustrophobia of that small office, left behind the small-minded bigotry of that blood-soaked island, and built himself a new home in the wilds of British Columbia.
From my birth, this has been my template for the masculine ideal: resolve, courage, intelligence, compassion. In the latter stages of his career, my father – long an administrator – could walk in and quell any classroom by his mere physical presence. And so, I’ve endeavoured to emulate him. To refrain from roarin’ an’ shoutin’. To be calm, yet firm of purpose. To be a man.
Of course, five minutes behind the wheel of this thing and it’s, COME AT ME BRO! (Read More…)
A few years after I left Detroit, doing my best to forget my heart-wrenching decision to give up on car design, a similarly disheartened automaker named Saturn made something called an Ion. I saw it at the Houston Auto Show circa 2002. Wounds from Detroit still fresh on my mind, I had absolutely no problem with the Saturn Ion shown behind a velvet rope. I honestly thought it was a design study commissioned by Playskool, not a production ready vehicle from General Motors.
I mean, it was that awful. So imagine my surprise when the General’s peeps come up with something nearly as ugly…and this time it’s a Cadillac. (Read More…)
Dear Sajeev and Steve,
If Lord Acton were alive today, I’m sure he’d say: “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great cars are almost always bad cars.” I believe it this philosophy that Cadillac hopes will rejuvenate Cadillac, a brand that only recently started taking performance seriously but is already achieving some surprising results. Already our own Michael Karesh has got his kicks with the CTS-V wagon, Niedermeyer has drooled over the sedan and Jack Baruth has killed the track at Monticello in both this coupe and the sedan… it might be safe to say Caddy has a winner on their hands. Still, why not snag the 556 HP V Coupe for a week to see how it handles some California road testing? What’s the worst that could happen?
I firmly believe that it’s more fun to drive a (relatively) slow compact hatch fast than to drive a big, fast car well below its potential. I remain hopeful that someone will offer a car with five doors and rear-wheel-drive that weighs under 3,000 pounds. (I’d say under 2,700 pounds, but that’s clearly a pipe dream.) Then Cadillac put a CTS-V in my driveway for a week. A wagon with a manual transmission, no less. That Cadillac even offers such a combination warrants respect. The lure of the dark side has never been stronger.
We were not amused (to coin a phrase) at Ford’s decision to tax fans of the hatchback by adding $500 to the price of its five-door Fiesta and forthcoming Focus. And rather than following Ford’s example, GM has priced its CTS-V Sportwagon some $475 cheaper than its $63,465 CTS-V sedan, by starting prices for the unique muscle wagon at $62,990 (including destination). Needless to say, we love the wüchtig, 556 HP CTS-V, so the prospect of a distinctively be-hatched version for less money is like catnip here at TTAC HQ. On the other hand, our beef with Ford has to do with its refusal to offer the practicality of a hatch at the base price point, and that argument doesn’t really hold water in the tire-smoking world of supercharged V8 rocketships. Moreover, $475 doesn’t exactly make much of a difference when you’re talking about a car that costs the equivalent of four base Fiestas. Still, we like to think of this as a win for the wagons… if only in principle.
Nothing but bad news from the video recorder; even when it was working, the fabulous sound of the supercharged CTS-V’s V-8 was left out.
This is a reasonably quick pit-to-pit lap of Monticello in the CTS-V Coupe. I was 3mph short of the local instructors at the end of the back straight. I’ll blame it on (the admirably fit) weight of my passenger, AutoGuide’s senior editor Colum Wood.
In the video, you can see the site of my off-track mishap and get a feel for what it’s like to push this very quick coupe around the track at cornering pressures of 1.1g or more. Don’t forget to click it to “480” to get the full resolution from the instruments.
As I crest Monticello Motor Club’s Turn 17, I am speaking directly to you, the TTAC reader, through the magic of a complete video, data, and audio recording system installed in my six-speed manual CTS-V Coupe.
“I have an idea,” I say, as I hold the throttle pinned to the stop way past the braking markers, over the hill, down the back of the left-hander, the speedometer swinging well into the triple digits, tach reaching to redline. “I think… this section can be taken flat.”
Flat, as in flat-out, as in without the mild braking before Turn 17 recommended by the instructors at Monticello and practiced by all reasonable individuals. And, indeed, I make it over the crest pointed in nearly the right direction… but any experienced racer knows that traction on the back of a hill is never as good as traction on the front of the hill. In under a second I’ve reached the absolute maximum slip angle of the tires. I haven’t done it. I’ve overstepped my limits, and the limits of the car. To turn more is futile and perhaps deadly, since I am pointed at the grass and traveling at over one hundred miles per hour. If I have any steering dialed-in to the car when I touch that rough surface, I can cartwheel end over end in the fashion of Antonio Pizzonia in a Jag S-Type. Have to exit the track straight. What happens now?