By on April 23, 2012

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.


But this ain’t no Saturn Ion.  It’s better in many ways and even more of a shameful waste of sheet metal in others.  That said, the nose is pretty cool if you avoid the detailing.  Well, the grille is quite handsome, even if I wish the badge was about 30% smaller.


Do badges really need to dominate a design?  This part of the CTS-V Coupe does quite well by itself.  Nobody’s gonna mistake it for a Honda, so chill out already!


The cyborg headlights are cool enough to let me fixate on other horrible elements on this form, namely the dumpy afterthought headlight washers.  I expected flush mount/pop up cleaners for a car wearing the Cadillac name.  Because this brand used to represent the best of the best, not a cheaper alternative to an uber-zoot German machine. Did someone benchmark a BMW M-series outside of the Nurburgring?


I love power-dome hoods, except when I don’t.  This is a Caddy!  Make that bulge start at the grille and flare out from there!  The ghosts of a million pimp-daddy DeVilles demands it! This looks like a cheap afterthought!


The Terminator was a great movie.  So was the sequel.  But whatever the hell this is, it belongs in a movie, not on a Caddy.  Plus, the choice of black plastic makes it look like an extra in a low-budget B-movie.  Totally not Caddy worthy.


The details do blend a little better from a few feet away.  But still, Cadillac is trying too hard to shed an image that was actually quite appealing.  This is the Pontiac Grand Prix of luxury performance coupes.  Believe it or not, I meant that as a compliment.  If Pontiac still existed.


This is one of the worst fender-to-A-pillar-to-door parties ever.  While I adore the strong edge from the fender’s vent to the beginning of the A-pillar, the muscular wedge that goes to the door is too big…or the vent is too small.  Not to mention the character line from the hood to the bottom of the A-pillar feels like an afterthought.

M.C. Escher, eat your heart out.


I despised this badge when it first hit the scene. That awful color palette in jarring, rhombus-like containers isn’t befitting of a top dollar, world-beating, Grand Tourer.  I admit it has aged well, so maybe branding conquers all.


Deplorable fitment aside, the sheer number of parts making this door handle is depressing.  The almost square thing above the door release is the biggest offender. It shouldn’t exist: why not make it integral to the rest of the quarter panel’s sheet metal? Inexcusable for a Cadillac and just un-frickin-believable in general.



But at least the quarter window is mighty faaaast!  The CTS-V coupe is certainly a…coupe!


Or is it a hatchback?  I wonder if the late-70s Buick Century Aero Coupe was ever considered during the CTS coupe’s initial renderings. Nah, that Buick was never this contrived by design. Not so with the Caddy, it’s obviously suffering from ADHD.

Details aside, this is pure BUFFALO BUTT. And that’s never pretty.


This is what happens when an AMC AMX gets beaten by Pablo Picasso’s Ugly Stick.

Marinate on that.


Let’s be clear, Cubism is a wonderful thing.  But this monstrosity of a machine is not. If your tail light extends to the rear glass, you made a crime against the natural order of luxury-performance vehicles. Epic fail.


The sheer volume of non-functional red CHMSL plastic shown makes me choke on my morning coffee.  Combine it with the fact that this part will turn chalky after a few years of buffing and oxidation, and you have a shameful interpretation of Cadillac style. Don’t believe me? Find a 1999 Mustang that’s had a less-than-charmed life and tell me how that CHMSL looks.


I will admit this is a seriously cool angle.  But I only like the decklid when you crop out the majority of bulk, or every line (cough, taillights) that fights the pointy beak presented here.

Then again, is a pointy posterior a good thing? Maybe someone in Detroit has a thing for the Porsche 928 in reverse.


The central exhausts are wicked cool, the round forms play well with the strong centralized character line.  Too bad the CTS-V Coupe’s ass is too tall and massive, you must squat down to actually appreciate this.


More shameful cheapness here.  Note to Cadillac: if you want an invite to AMG and M’s house parties, don’t break the ice with a Tupperware party at your crib.  You’ll get the Corvette, muscle car and LSX-FTW loyalists instead. Which isn’t a bad thing…as those peeps do buy cars.

Their money is still green!


On to some abhorrent detailing: the character line from the quarter window needs more definition, and more depth. This gives the illusion that the CTS-V isn’t as tall as a CUV, and has the fender flares of a car worthy of such impressive underpinnings. Instead we get bulk and flab. How I miss the days of fuselage inspired Cadillac quarter panels!



Next abhorrent detail: if you have to smear a round gas cap over an obscure fender slope, your design needs a re-think.  Or maybe I need some slimy, sloppy eggs to go with the coffee I recently choked on.



I know, I know…I already complained about the door handle. But look at how the B-pillar mates with the rest of the design!  Can someone trim the door to match this absolutely crucial hard point on the body?  How much is this car again?

Long live the Ghost of the Saturn Ion. On to you, Best and Brightest.


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107 Comments on “Vellum Venom: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe...”

  • avatar

    Now all I can see is Lego.

    … and the AMX reference is dead on!

    • 0 avatar

      But I don’t get the Pontiac Grand Prix reference. If it was supposed to be a compliment was it in a damning-with-faint-praise way? Even forgetting that it compares a “luxury” car to one well below it’s class I fail to see how it can mean anything other than “cheap plas-tacky detailing masking the underlying mediocre, albeit fundamentally sound, basic car.”

      It’s more likely the Pontiac G6 coupe of Cadillacs. And I mean that both as a more direct visual comparison AND as an insult of the highest order to a car attempting to play at this price point.

      • 0 avatar

        The Pontiacs from the 1960s were rather awesome, and the CTS-V is definitely a Pontiac from the 1960s. That’s what I shoulda said.

      • 0 avatar

        I definitely think this would have been a better pontiac. This design language is an extension of the aztec and not distinguished enough for Cadillac. This car would have been a killer product in the place of the G8 which was a forgettable design and flopped. A better name would have helped too owing to heritage of racing names I suggest the “Formula 8” or the “Brickyard”

  • avatar

    I agree that Cadillacs have turned ugly. This is a disappointment after the quite elegant STS several years ago. The coming ATS isn’t perfect, but it appears to be a change in the right direction.

  • avatar
    Good ole dayz

    In general Cadillac’s are too bling for my taste. That said, I’m not as critical of this design as the author. That said too, if I were otherwise inclined toward this vehicle the today de rigueur undersized greenhouse / windows and resulting lack of visibility would cause me to pass. I can’t wait for this “fashion” to pass …

  • avatar

    If they could shoehorn all that performance into something upscale and tasteful (y’know, what a Cadillac is supposed to be), they’d have a real winner.

  • avatar

    I kind of expect a Cadillac to show some excess by a committee whose job is to “guild the lily” – so to speak. Each person on the team needs to add their favorite sprinkle or dollop of ice cream to the desert.

    It could have been worse in my opinion. I’m not a big fan of large, plastiky head lights that recede too far up the fender.

    Pun intended – the head light and tail light treatment is over the top – in other words, not very Bavarian.

    I’ll assume that the driver’s vision out the rear is pretty much compromised. Hence, the need for the ultrasonic back-up rangefinders in the rear bumper.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Despite the shameless pandering to this coupe and the CTS-V wagon by certain enthusiast magazines, I’ve always thought this car was horribly ugly. Slab-sided, gunslit windows, poor visibility, hokey styling, and a childish Transformers front fascia. Just horrible. Interior feels like a tomb. Cramped and a beltline that hits about eye level. I never see these things on the road and I say hooray to that.

  • avatar

    I’ve seen several of these coupes in the metal and they look better than they do in pictures, particularly in a dark color. In person, they’re tidily-sized and not so bloated appearing. As for the “glitz” criticisms, this is a Cadillac after all and it’s supposed to be on the brash and glitzy side. Besides, it’s not like Audi and Mercedes have exactly stuck to the “tasteful and understated” theme in recent years, have they?

  • avatar

    Great article, Sajeev. It has some of the spirit of the “old” TTAC, with strong and clear opinions, and an irreverent style. Please give us more of this (and less junkyard stories)!

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    At least they haven’t tried to dress it up by slathering on the chrome….

  • avatar

    Why is it that when people fail at a career, they become so embittered that they attack and nitpick all the accomplishments from those who actually are successful at that same career?
    From the egg designs at Infinity, to the overwrought Japanese cartoon looks of the Acura line up, and the sheer banality of anything Lexus, the Cadillac line up is the freshest, most distinctive design direction currently out there. Even Audi, which 10 years ago I would have conceded was leading the way, has become so self-involved in its own technology trickery that it is losing its momentum.
    I was in a Cadillac show room recently, while waiting for my Chevy to have an oil change and(after nearly 5 years of ownership) be given (another) clean bill of health, and I took a good look at the Caddy wagon, SRX and CTS. If anything, my only criticism is that Caddies are getting too small. Were I to buy a Cadillac one day, I want one that tells all those lessees of rice burners to get the hell out of my way…!
    Cadillac is on a role, and if sales numbers are any indicator, against the backdrop of a 40% drop in over all U.S. sales numbers, Cadillac is doing pretty darn good.

  • avatar

    You must be trolling if you are insulting this car. The CTS-V is one of the best looking cars on the road under $80 Grand and after actually having driven a Murcielago the attacks on the plastic parts is ridiculous. Would you prefer they all be made of metal and add another 50 pounds?


    Yes the design is polarizing, but, that doesn’t stop it from selling well.

    • 0 avatar

      The design isn’t polarizing, it’s half baked. If you think it’s one of the best looking cars on the road, I’d like to hear which details you like and why you do.

      • 0 avatar

        In your OPINION it’s half baked. I agree some of the DETAILS are a little overwrought (and agree 100% with you on the exterior door handles – they’re chintzy), but overall, this is a striking car, particularly in its base, non “V” guise.

        It may not be to everyone’s taste, but then again, nothing ever is…unless we’re talking about a Corolla, which offends no one.

      • 0 avatar

        Obviously this is my opinion. Did I ever give the impression that Vellum Venom is hard hitting work of automotive journalism?

        If I did, I need to re-think this series.

      • 0 avatar

        You are entitled to your opinions, but, you should have titled this article: “WHY I THINK THE CTS-V COUPE IS UGLY”. When I clicked on this, I expected to see a review.

        It’s not easy to make a car that looks like this, yet still in practical (storage and capacity of a regular car) while having aggressive, luxurious looks. This car looks like a diamond on wheels and thank’s the lighting fixtures it looks very elegant. I love the rear end, I love the side profile. I agree, some work could have been done on the door handles, but, even so, they are small enough to not be noticeable from a distance.

        You attack the air inlets for the brake cooling? I like them. In fact, I’m glad they aren’t LED’s like on damn near EVERYTHING else.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s the lack of design consistency or flawless execution that Sajeev points out in this series.

        Some cars appear more like they were designed by one person who was not distracted with a dozen other projects. When designing the character line in one corner, this mythical designer remembers what they did in the opposite corner and can successfully complement their earlier work.

        Other cars appear clearly designed by uncommunicative committees, like the character lines and lines and lines near the rear fenders on the first generation CTS.

        Other than things like the stupidly unsafe greenslit, er, greenhouse, and the rear fender flares whose curvature from the panel doesn’t match a style used anywhere else in the exterior design, Sajeev’s commentary usually points out small design choices that could have improved the outcome, if the desired outcome was to present a consistent and compelling story.

        For a mostly unified and consistent design, I like W124 Mercedes-Benz 300E sedans of the late 80s and their nearly absolute embrace of Isosceles Trapezoids, even including the instrument panel and the trunk opening. The only “I don’t really belong here with everybody else” shape on those Benzes was, like this CTS-V (for Very ugly), the curvature of the fenders to push out the trapezoidal wheel openings.

      • 0 avatar

        bigtruck: you expected a review? this whole series has been listed as an editorial for weeks, almost since day one. The reviews are in a totally different subcategory.

        You really think I attacked the air inlets for their functionality? The air inlets are poorly designed/executed from a styling perspective, I am not questioning the need for them. They could look completely different and still accomplish the same thing.

        This is a series on automotive design, not engineering. Sometimes I wonder if that’s clear.

      • 0 avatar

        All that being said, I give it a 9/10

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        GM has clearly given up any hopes of appealing to classy, respected, and intelligent individuals. All that’s left for Caddy to suck up are the crumbs from the new-money dregs and gangsta wannabes who are so desperate to drive a “LOOK AT ME!” vehicle, they’re willing to overlook – or even defend – insufferably poor build quality and panel fits that would offend Kia.

        These are much the same people who use TTAC comments as opportunities to draw desperate attention to their string of poorly-produced YouTube reviews.

      • 0 avatar

        @Sajeev: To most of us, it’s blatantly obvious that these pieces are your opinion. Only a complete knucklehead would suspect otherwise (or somebody who’s butthurt because you dumped on a car/brand they like).

        And what is this nonsense about “reviews” and “opinions?” Last time I checked, those are the same thing.

      • 0 avatar


        I was next to a new Audi A7 with a left rear door chrome belt moulding that was misaligned by a good 1.5-2.0mm at both the front and rear where it mated to the rest of the chrome window surround. Oh the horror!

      • 0 avatar

        FromaBuick6: that’s kinda what I was thinking…since this website was founded on the opinions of one man. Opinions backed up with many true facts, but opinions nevertheless. And maybe the only difference between a TTAC review and editorial is that one actually involves driving the car.

        Volts on Fire: you reminded me that “bigtruckseriesreview” took a few shots at my design analysis while turfing his own work…therefore I also shall agree with your assessment on his YouTube reviews.

        Sajeev “I must be Trolling” Mehta

  • avatar

    Nice review. Lots of nitpicking, but I feel like that’s a key part of this series: focus on the details.

    Personally, I detest the CTS coupes (V or not), while the sedans seem like a wonderful interpretation of the old Cadillac themes: glamour and futurism. Sajeev, any chance you could do a compare/contrast for the coupe and sedan?

    (I only wish the sedan had a slightly longer wheelbase; the rear door looks too short, kind of like the early suicide-door Continentals or T-birds.)

  • avatar

    Looks are subjective, and in MY opinion the CTS coupe is one of the most gorgeous and daring production cars on the road. Gorgeous. Not hideous.

    It would be easy to say then that it’s “polarizing.” Frankly, I don’t care whether people love it, hate it, or have no strong feelings either way. The most important opinion to me is my own: I know what I like, and I love the CTS coupe.

    That said, I love the VV segment too, and appreciate the informed critique on what you percieve to be the design faults of the CTS and other cars, even if I don’t always agree. Please keep them coming.

  • avatar

    Normally, I don’t like Cadillac styling.

    This is no exception.

  • avatar

    It’s all subjective, a matter of opinion. This car doesn’t do much for me styling-wise but there are those that will think it is great and not notice or be concerned with auto-journalist nit-picks.

    The real issue, I think, is whether a two-door coupe will sell in numbers large enough to justify its existence. My thought, based on prior coupes like the Riviera, Coupe de Ville, Mark VIII, Monte Carlo, etc. is probably not.

  • avatar

    The CTS-V Coupe laughs at you as it leaves you in a cloud of tire smoke on it’s way to a terminal velocity that is a not-insignificant fraction of c.

    Love it or hate it, it’s certainly not *boring*.

  • avatar

    I despise the look of this car. It’s irritating to know that some people buy this car ONLY because 1. it is a Cadillac coupe and 2. they think it is stylish.

  • avatar

    This is one of the best series TTAC’s ever seen, so congrats on that.

  • avatar

    “The design isn’t polarizing, it’s half baked. If you think it’s one of the best looking cars on the road, I’d like to hear which details you like and why you do.”

    Lets, just for a moment, put aside the condescending nature of this remark (who made you the arbiter of style and taste?).

    While I agree that some of the details are jarring (particularly the stupid fender vent and mishmash of lines in that vicinity), in short, the answer is the stance. The car really looks like a coupe in an “in-your-face way”. It looks like it is ready to set new records in the quarter mile. There’s nothing wrong with this, It’s aggressively American. Who cares if the grill badge is big? This car backs up the styling with real performance. It’s loud, slightly tasteless and, dare I say it, courageous. Just like America before we got all wusified by unreliable, expensive Bangle-flamed crap from der Vaterland.

    That was a bit over the top. But I really wonder what it’s going to take for Cadillac to break through with you people. If we could fast-rewind twelve years, who would have guessed that Cadillac would be making anything even remotely like the CTS-V coupe? Or the CTS-V wagon for that matter? These are good times for lovers of American cars. I say bravo! Keep it coming.

    • 0 avatar

      Who said I was the arbiter of style and taste? If I did, I apologize.

      Cars are not about the stance: the proportion of every design feature (for lack of a better phrase) with the vehicle as a whole is what you like. Sometimes the stance is the catch-all for that notion.

      And this rig is too tall to have a decent stance. IMO, of course.

      Design is also about the detail, and you just got a metric ton of detail analysis of where the Caddy lacks the sophistication of its counterparts…for better or worse, of course.

      • 0 avatar

        “Design is about the detail”

        Did you really just say that? When I look at a Chippendale Highboy, for example, it’s the basic proportions that make the piece work. And, for that matter, I tend to prefer Federal period furniture for it’s lack of details (and its primary attention to form and proportion) that can make the Chippendale-era stuff look fussy.

        Details are important, but to say they are the essence of design is just wrong.

      • 0 avatar

        See my edit, I had a feeling you’d be typing the same time I was. Multitasking at work failure on my part. (insert Qbert sounds here)

    • 0 avatar

      @bunkie: Sajeev was a blowhard commentor accusing him of trolling. I thought his response was polite in a situation that totally merited condescension.

      If Sajeev is not “the arbiter of style and taste,” but then neither are you. Get over yourself.

      • 0 avatar

        Bunkie doesn’t need to get over himself, nor does anyone else. That completely defeats the purpose of debating about stuff on the Internet. We should all be proud of our ability to complain via keyboard. It got me where I am today.

      • 0 avatar

        Sajeev has an opinion as do I. My impression was that he was elevating his opinion to the level of fact and, to be fair, I could certainly have phrased my criticism more politely.

        I have no problem with other people’s notions of what looks good. And, again to be fair, I happen to agree with some of Sajeev’s criticism of the design details. But he specifically called for people who liked a design he proclaimed to be a failure (again, an opinion stated as fact) to explain why. I was happy to do so.

        In all probability, Sajeev did not mean to come off as being condescending. But I think he was and I said so. I didn’t mean to offend, but I have no problem criticizing what I see as misuse of that precious commodity truth, which this site loudly proclaims to champion. From my perspective, such a claim calls for higher standards.

  • avatar

    This is the Pontiac Aztek of luxury performance coupes.
    This is what happens when a car is designed by 67 committees…

  • avatar

    This is the Pontiac Aztek of luxury performance coupes.
    This is what happens when a car is designed by 67 equal committees…
    Actually, I made Sanjeev the arbiter of style and taste.
    And I like the junkyard pieces and anything by Murilee.

  • avatar

    I’d never buy the coupe over the sedan or wagon; it’s just ridiculous.

  • avatar

    I love it. Homerun. While I don’t agree with all its styling cues, nothing else (today) even comes close to its looks. But then what else comes close to its performance (in 2+2s)? It’s number 1 or 2 on my list. At the same time, I think the current Camaros are a hideous abomination.

  • avatar

    Saw one of these in person at the auto show, so we got to miss around with it too. Wife really really liked it. Me, I’m not too sure. Something more special about it then the Sedan, but the Wagon, the wagon looks so good.

    And those damn door handles. I didn’t like how they looked, or felt. But, across the way was a Ferrari FF. The Ferrari’s door handles felt even worse; inexcusably cheap for a $400,000 price tag. Hell, I think our new Ford has sturdier door handles. But the most depressing of all was some 60’s detroit Iron in immaculate condition several feet down from the Ferraris; The door handles on those cars put every single car on display there to complete and utter shame.

    Hell, when you put 50yo cars in like-new condition, next to new cars, it really puts things in perspective. I also collect vintage electronics on the side, and once again, when you compared radios from the 50’s and earlier to any electronic device you could buy today, and the quality is just completely gone (not to mention any sign of design). Especially when it comes to TV’s.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the mid to late 60s radios were the best in regards to engineering and build quality. At any rate, I know what you mean. I have at home a mid 60s tube stereo that looks gorgeous and sounds even better. Aside from the solid state rectifier, there is not a gram of silicone in this machine.

      Its been fully rebuilt, and I fully expect another 50 years of life out if it. Have several sets of backup power tubes for it.

    • 0 avatar

      It depends upon your perspective. In the realm of mass-market products, you are correct. However (and it’s a big one), mass-market products are much less expensive now than they were decades ago, Look at a price list from 1961 for tube hi-fi amps and then adjust for 1961 dollars and the things cost thousands of dollars. Strangely enough, you can buy a decent modern tube amp for the same money that equals the build and sound quality of the vintage piece. And, of course, the sky is the limit price-wise for high-end gear. How about a $15K phono cartridge to go with your $37K turntable, $75K amp, $50K preamp and $125K speakers? Not to mention the $20K worth of cables… Suddenly the Ferrari seems like a mass-market item by way of comparison.

      Regarding TVs, the major change (ignoring the vastly improved picture of modern sets) has been serviceability. Old sets were expected to break and also, to be repaired. Modern sets are far more reliable and are essentially disposable items.

      But I would be careful comparing vintage cars to modern cars. Many vintage cars are over-restored to be better than they were rolling off the assembly line.

  • avatar

    I’m impressed by this car’s stance and wickedly prodigious butt, but the styling definitely took a wrong turn towards too many edges somewhere around the front of the car. The previous-gen CTS was perhaps a bit too understated, but they would have done well to take more from that design.

    Sajeev, you’ve opened my eyes to the meaning of good design. Cohesiveness. Attention to detail. Things like the poorly-positioned fuel filler lid; the terrible fitment of the door handles and the inexplicable staggering of the b-pillar line; the fender/a-pillar/door area. Good, thoughtful design should be available at all price points, and its absence is inexcusable when you’re paying more than $30,000 for a new car.

    You should subject the ‘Maro and the Challenger to some venom; somebody needs to skewer all of these cheesy caricatures of dead cars.

  • avatar

    While CTS-V is probably my favorite line of GM product outside of Corvette, I have no love for the Coupe. The back end looks way too gigantic and the whole shape just doesn’t work as well as the other 2…

  • avatar

    When I first saw a CTS-V coupe, I immediately checked out the tire size. Damn if that thing doesn’t look like it rides on 15″ wheels. You could land a Piper Cub on the sheetmetal between the quarter window and wheel arch. The sedan and wagon versions look much cleaner.

    But I digress. How incredible is it that we have three versions of the CTS-V to choose from in 2012? A six speed, RWD, 556 HP station wagon! How did Lutz sneak that one past accounting?

    • 0 avatar

      The sharply rising beltline, which is the source of all that real estate above the rear wheel, makes the rear wheels LOOK smaller than the fronts when the car is viewed in profile. The CTS is not the only car with that problem but it’s particularly bad.

  • avatar

    “Say–I have absolutely nothing to do. Cadillac gave me a V-Coupe. I think I will walk out with my little photo device and then write subjective styling comments on it. Because I write for a blog and I can. “

  • avatar

    Needs tail fins.

  • avatar

    I agree with this review, I find these cars very gaudy.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I remember when the Olds Toronado came out a lot of people did not care for its styling, I just thought it was amazing, I guess time proved me right

  • avatar

    What’s with all the put-downs about this being ‘merely subjective’ and ‘mere opinion’? Sajeev has given a rather detailed explanation of various design elements that he thinks are flawed, and he’s given plausible reasons to support his claims (which is far more than most of the other ‘critics’ here have done). Of course there’s an element of ‘feel’ to all of this, but at least Sajeev tries to carry the discussion beyond level of simple feeling by attempting to articulate what it is about the vehicle that makes it seem flawed from a design point of view.

    It’s funny that many of the same people who criticize Sajeev’s views as ‘mere opinion’ or ‘merely subjective’ then go on to make ‘fact-like’ statements about this being a “striking car” or “one of the best looking cars on the road” (as if their claims were somehow universally and factually true and anyone who disagrees is crazy and insulting).

    While aesthetics does rely heavily on ‘feeling’ it doesn’t follow that the conditions that give rise to our felt reactions don’t have some kind of intelligible basis that can’t be analyzed and articulated. It may well be that in aesthetics the analysis and articulation of those base conditions may be more difficult and sometimes fuzzy than other kinds of discussion, but that doesn’t make them any less real (and hence objective in a robust, pragmatic sense of that term).

    There can be all kinds of grounds for liking a vehicle, and not all of them are easily articulated. I find Sajeev’s analysis to be quite insightful, pointing out aspects of and relations between the various design elements that I hadn’t noticed before (at least not in the way he highlights them), and I think he’s seeing something important in the design that I hadn’t noticed before. Nevertheless, there’s still something about this Cadillac (and the Cadillac design in general) that I do find striking, and kind of like. While I’m not able to articulate what it is about the Cadillac design that I actually do like, I’m not offended or insulted by Sajeev’s account. Instead, it offers me a new way of looking at the vehicle, a new perspective if you will (and this is true of all the other vehicles he does this with) that I hadn’t seen before that I find quite fascinating.

    Keep up the good work, Sajeev.

    • 0 avatar

      Well put. I really like this feature, regardless of whether I agree with Sajeev’s assessments. I hope he continues it.

      I’m about fed up with the personal attacks from commenters every time a TTAC posts something that doesn’t praise their pet manufacturer. The one-note trolls are kind of fun to laugh at, but some of the regulars around here have devolved into vicious whiners in the last year.

      • 0 avatar

        Thank you both. Keep this in mind: if I could withstand the comments about my own work in design school, I seriously doubt TTAC commentators can scare me off. The only difference is, TTAC pays me and the tuition bill at CCS was hellacious.

        I’ve been here longer than anyone else, and I don’t plan on leaving.

  • avatar

    I like most of this car but small details like the fog light surrounds and that plastic square above the door handles are inexcusable like you say. My biggest issue is with the huge amount of real-estate between the rear wheel arch and the quarter window. It makes all the available wheel sizes look tiny.

  • avatar

    I rather like the styling – right up to the B-pillar. To it looks as though one group did the front and another group did the back and they mashed them together. car by committee, which is never a good thing.

  • avatar

    Like Sajeev, I’m also a refugee from a transportation design program, I became a graphic designer instead.

    I’m a fan of the CTS-V series, for several reasons. First, the Art & Science styling reminds me greatly of the well-received B-bodies from the late 70’s. The remarks about the AMX are appropriate, too, as this car makes as much of a statement with it’s stance and it’s shape. Coincidentally, the Richard Teague designed AMX and Javelin are some of my all time favorite automotive designs. For me personally, this car rings a lot of bells…

    As with the 77 B-bodies and the AMX, there are some less than perfect details, but as a whole I think the design is cohesive and bears up well.

    I like to look at a car over time, in many different environments; I think that snap judgement of design is a bad idea. Sometimes it takes a while to understand why a designer made a particular item a certain way.

    Beauty being in the eye of the beholder is probably the most apt comparison here.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m a huge fan of the Richard Teague-designed AMX –as you can see from my avatar–and think this cribs the overall fastback look from it.
      I like the overall look of the CTS coupe, but Sajeev is correct in that it falls apart in some of the details. I find the B-pillar/door handle area particularly fussy (compare the door handles to the clean, timeless handle design on the AMX). Where I disagree is on the agressive elements like the power dome hood. Why can’t a brash, muscular Caddy have aggressive features?? Cadillacs are supposed to be brash, after all.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m reminded of the old joke about how the Z28 looked like it could kick you rear, but the Trans Am was on it’s way over to do it RIGHT NOW…

        The CTS-V coupe is more like Chuck Norris coming over RIGHT NOW…

      • 0 avatar

        The power dome hood needs to extend to the grille, like a Caddy should. I think it will look just as aggressive, and it will be far better integrated too. Aggressive without looking like an aftermarket bodykit would be my preferred result for this car.

  • avatar

    I generally agree with you Mr. Mehta, but I feel like you may have missed the boat with this one. Really, the only design sin I hold against this car is the rear fender geometry. I am saddened that all the work went into the front half and rear or this car – the hips on this thing just don’t fit. And the fuel filler door – ew. Too bad they couldn’t stomach something exotic for the caddy – the silly rounded panel is just annoying.

    However, here’s the rub. Have you seen that C class commercial that is all over the TV now? It’s called “Passing through” – and the slightly angry guy driving it is the perfect customer to market this car to. I have seen a LOT of CTS Coupes wandering around locally, and the driver is either an Affliction-wearing mid-life crisis denying meat head, or a member of Cadillac’s dwindling AARP loyalty program. The design is essentially PERFECT for them – sharp, “sporty”, and aggressive up front; soft, rounded, and comfortable in the middle; and artificially tightened with the automotive equivalent of a tramp stamp in the back. It shouldn’t work, but it does. And while the design may be dubious, I am quite happy that the -V has CRAZY balls as a sub-GT.

  • avatar

    I have to side with those who love this car. Not every detail is perfect, and the amount of sheet metal between the rear wheels and the rear quarter window is inded excessive, but the car makes a statement; it does not look like anything elso on the road (though I enjoyed the AMX reference!). The fastback roofline and the extended taillights (which I quite like) make this a car that I stop and stare at whenever one goes by. An early reviewer wrote that this is GM’s most original design since the ’63 Riviera, and there may be some truth in that.

    That being said, when it came time to put my money down and replace my TT, I had to go with the Audi A5. The CTS Coupe was a bit too blingy for me. It’s not inappropriate for a Cadillac, but I guess in the end I am not quite a Cadillac type of guy. Just as my father got the ’59 Olds Super 88 and the ’64 Riviera and the ’70 Toronado in lieu of the comparable Cadillacs, I had to go with the less glitzy, better proportioned design. Though in retrospect, wouldn’t you rather have had the ’59 Cadillac?

  • avatar

    The thing I love about Cadillacs is that they are BOLD and that they make a powerful statement to all onlookers. You’ll never confuse a Caddy with a Bimmer or Audi; the Cadillac just has that stance and poise about it that differentiates it from pretty much everything else on the road. It’s certainly not in everyone’s taste, but I’ll be honest in that there’s not another car that I want to own more than this one(with the Hennessy L700 package, heh heh…….).

    Motor Trend did an article about a year ago when they took one of these to Qatar, where S-Classes and Porsches and Royces are a dime a dozen among the ruling elite. They repeatedly stressed that NO OTHER car got the attention that the CTSV Coupe did- Cadillac seems to be really taking off there. To those people who are in the market for a pricey automobile (read: rich people), that’s usually a big priority and the fact that the Cadillac is unashamedly American is a bonus that shouldn’t be discounted either.

    I’d compare this car to the DeLorean actually, both were absurd for their times but both are instantly recognizable icons. Both cars were garish to the point that they created opposing communities of fans and haters, but over thirty years later the DeLorean is “the” car that everyone remembers from the 80’s. So too will it be the case with the CTS Coupe in my opinion. It’ll go down as the car that showed GM was serious about making a statement with their automobiles again, and like the DeLorean and even my cherished Slantback from three decades prior I think the proponents of the car’s styling will outlast the opponents of it.

    • 0 avatar

      You have a rather awesome TTAC screen name.

      That said, anything Motor Trend notices about a car on a GM-sponsored press junket needs to be subjected to some filter. In my case, I know a couple of ex-pat Indians living in the Middle East, and they only talk about European brands…not Caddies. If they are desirable to the average bystander, it’s probably more along the lines of Panther Love or Aussie RWD V8 Sedan Love.

      I’d be rather surprised if a majority of premium car buyers will steer clear of AMGs/M5s for a V-series.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s almost as good a screen name as mine! j/k :)

        Sajeev, please do one of these on your Mark VIII!!!

        While this particular car (the Caddy) isn’t necessarily for me, I still love the idea of a personal luxury-type coupe. I saw a Mark VIII last week in Deep Jewel Green, I think I drooled a little…

  • avatar

    Sajeev makes good points. When it comes to performance cars, GM goes over the top with the cheap bling.

    I’ve seen several regular “plain-jane” versions of the CTS Coupe. To me, they look good. It’s much like how the last few BMW 3-series Coupes and the second-generation 1970-1978 Camaro/Firebird looked better in their base trim than the gaudy performance (M3/Z28/Trans-Am) variants.

  • avatar

    I like the styling on the Superfly era coupes more, but the V is about a million times faster and better built than those.

    My biggest problem with the V is that AMGs powered by the M156 sound better.

  • avatar

    Sajeev you are my new hero for telling it like it is regarding this abomination of a ‘Cadillac’. You did touch on something interesting though about Pontiac. In the end they were taking the brand in a weird direction anyway, I think they mixed up the CTS and Coupe with the G8. Having recently driven a friend’s G8 V6 and being very impressed with the styling, size, and handling, the G8 *should* have been a Cadillac and the Catera family the new Grand Prix sedan and coupe, maybe dropping the G6 in the process. What might have been…

  • avatar

    I like this series, and most of the points made are thoughtful and valid, but I don’t get this one: “Can someone trim the door to match this absolutely crucial hard point on the body”. While it might be neat for the door cut to align with the glass cut (between the rear side glass and door glass), then how exactly would the window be able to go down into the door? Doesn’t the door have to be longer than where you want it to be trimmed? Or am I misunderstanding? Much more egregious in that photo is how badly the chrome trim on the door mismatches with the chrome beneath the fixed side glass (and of course that very poorly executed door handle).

    • 0 avatar

      Very good point. The glass isn’t as long as the hole created by the door. Matching the door to the B-pillar means the door cutline below the B-pillar is bowed out to allow for the clearance you mentioned. Also, the design of the window regulator and A-pillar determines just what size of glass can fit inside the door.

      Perhaps what I said doesn’t make any sense. If so, this pic of an E36 BMW will clear it up.

  • avatar

    You gotta be kiddin…

  • avatar
    Black Diamond

    Well as you can probably tell from my handle — I drive a CTS V Coupe — and I have to admit the first time I saw the car on TV I thought what an ugly car — then I drove one — WOW what a car, I have had 3 7 series BMW’s, 2 3 Series BMWs, 1 Mercedes E350 (the worst car I have ever had) and a Lexus 460. I can tell non of these other cars compares to the V Coupe — this is the best handling car I have ever driven and it can blow away just about everything on the road. The V is my daily driver and ever time I get into this car I have a smile for ear to ear — and now I love the way it looks – once you drive it you can get hooked fast and one thing you have to say it is unique and no other car looks like it.

    All the cars above were good — but this car is wonderful — all I have to say to those who criticize the V — have you driven one? (probably not) — but you should — I’ll bet you will be smiling too!

  • avatar

    I see a bunch of these on the road and find them especially cartoonish from the rear.

    My biggest issue with this car and the Camaro are that they both look like “pinheads” to me. By that I mean the greenhouse seems out of scale (too small) with the rest of the body.

    On an unrelated note…Sajeev, I know you have a Mark VIII. One of the biggest disappointments I have with that car, especially for it’s price point when new, was the cheap “gutter” molding where the roof met the roof pillar. Ford really should have soldered this joint and hand worked it to perfection. My former 300M and my current Stratus have soldered roof joints and they were both cheaper cars than the Mark.

    • 0 avatar

      I just saw one of these on my way home, and the greenhouse is silly short compared to the height of the car. “Pinhead,” indeed.

    • 0 avatar

      My big problem with my car are the terrible gaps between the headlights/bumper/grille/hood. And the decklid to bumper gap. Those were fixed in the 97-98 model: too bad I don’t care for those.

      But yeah, that channel is on the chintzy side. I guess they cheaped out there, but still got the $$$ approved for a one piece chrome quarter window trim. Too bad about that, now the chrome trim isn’t as cool to me any more!

  • avatar

    Actually, I think this caddilac is decent. And, the sedan looks better. But, the massive price tag keeps me far far away.

  • avatar

    If this article arrived 5 years ago I would agree with some of my former collegues

    But, no longer wearing the same blinders, I think your points are spot on. That door pull assembly alone would keep me from buying one, even as the most diehard GM fan that I was.

    Even roaming the forums as a paid “opinion police” (as I called it), I couldn’t make up enough excuses for such a poor design.

  • avatar

    I agree 100% Jeeves. The design is disappointing; it’s not what it could, should, be.

  • avatar

    I totally agree and have always thought the CTS-V (sedan and coupe) looked ugly as sin. There is something very uninviting about the design. Looking at it makes me not want to go inside, the complete opposite of a what a car should do.

  • avatar

    I knew I hated that car’s looks, mechanicals I have no comment on, and now I know why. It’s very much appreciated to know why certain things don’t seem to work.

  • avatar

    I actually like how “Deal with it” Caddy styling is lately. The basic lines of their cars are fantastic. I like the bold, chunky lines. It’s unfortunate they can’t get those details worked out. The pile of seams where the door handle meets the door, rear quarter, and window looks like a failed game of Tetris. The huge curvy dead space between the rear wheel wells and rear taillights is odd. With your suggested correction of the taillights, maybe that can be fixed.

    At any rate, I’m happy this polarizing style exists.

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