General Motors South Africa announced in October 2006 that it would be introducing a range of Cadillac models into the South African market. That promise has become a reality with the release of the Cadillac BLS premium midsize sedan. Also for release in March is the Cadillac SRX, a luxury SUV vehicle with genuine all-rounder […]

General Motors South Africa announced in October 2006 that it would be introducing a range of Cadillac models into the South African market. That promise has become a reality with the release of the Cadillac BLS premium midsize sedan. Also for release in March is the Cadillac SRX, a luxury SUV vehicle with genuine all-rounder capabilities which comes to South Africa several months ahead of its projected launch.

First seen at the

Frankfurt Motor Show

in 2005, the Cadillac BLS had its European sales debut in the second quarter of 2006 and comes to South Africa within a year of the start of that European roll-out.

Built in Europe

Beginning in 2003, Cadillac initiated a complete product renewal cycle with the aim of revitalising the brand and gaining significant sales in global markets, in particular the European market. The BLS is the latest model in that programme and was created by Cadillac in Europe to cater specifically for European customer expectations. High-torque turbo engines, modern transmissions and a chassis tuned for agility contribute to superb vehicle dynamics and driving enjoyment.

The BLS is built at GM’s state-of-the-art facility in Trollhättan, in Sweden. The excitement generated by this new model has set Cadillac on a path to significantly increasing its sales in Europe.

Designed by international team

The Cadillac BLS was conceived by an international team of designers led by GM Vice President of Design, Ed Welburn. Expressive design has always been a Cadillac hallmark and the BLS is no exception in this regard. The vehicle has clear, sharply defined contours, a striking wedge shape – with  a drag coefficient of 0,31 – and an elegant interior.

“The most striking feature of the styling is the use of vertical lines at the front and rear,” said Welburn. “The V-shaped chrome grille, a traditional Cadillac styling cue, is picked up on the boot lid. The large side faces communicate a sense of strength and solidity,” says Ed Welburn.

“Jewel-like headlamps, fog lamps integrated into the body-coloured bumper, and a wide air intake below the grille define the front end of the BLS. The latest LED technology is used in the central high mount stop light which is positioned on the boot lid and extends across the vehicle. It also functions as a spoiler. The vertical taillights leave no doubt about the Cadillac heritage of the BLS.”

Modern and efficient drive train

The front-wheel drive BLS offers an expressive design combined with an outstanding ride, excellent stability and low levels of noise vibration and harshness.

Three engine options will be offered in South Africa. These are a new generation advanced technology diesel engine; a 2.0 litre high output four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with direct injection; and a 2.8 litre V6 turbocharged petrol engine.

The diesel engine offered is a 110 kW four-cylinder turbo engine with common rail direct injection technology. This is the first turbo diesel to be offered in a Cadillac. Maximum torque is a substantial 320 Nm delivered between 2000 and 2750 r/min. Drive is via a 6-speed manual transmission.

This derivative of the Cadillac BLS is capable of a top speed of 210 km/h. Acceleration from rest to 100km/h is 11 seconds. Overall fuel consumption, depending on driving style is in the order of 6.0 l/100km.

The first of the petrol engine options, the 2.0 litre high output turbo four-cylinder unit, combines multi-point fuel injection, direct ignition, and a turbocharger, to produce maximum power of 131 kW. Maximum torque of 265 Nm is produced at 2500 r/min. Drive is via either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic transmission.

The 2.0 litre Cadillac BLS is capable of a top speed of 220 km/h. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h is 8,7 seconds for the 6-speed manual version while the automatic takes 9,7 seconds for the same sprint. Fuel consumption, again depending on driving style, is 8,2 l/100km for the manual and 9,5 l/100km for the automatic.

The top-of-the-range BLS is fitted with a 2.8 litre V6 petrol engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger. This, combined with dual overhead camshafts, 4-valves per cylinder, continuous Variable Valve Timing (VVT), multi-point fuel injection, and an advanced Bosch Motronic engine management system, provides for a compact high output engine that produces 184 kW at 5500 r/min. Maximum torque is 350 Nm produced at just 2000 r/min. An overboost feature adds a further 15 Nm to this figure for 10 seconds when required, for example to achieve safe overtaking.

This top line BLS model is capable of a top speed of 245 km/h. The 0-100km/h sprint is achieved in 7,5 seconds and average fuel consumption is 10,8 l/10km as measured by Cadillac engineers. Drive is via a 6-speed automatic transmission with “Tap Down” feature.

This high performance model in the Cadillac BLS line-up is equipped with larger disc brakes and 7,5JX17 alloy rims for an added edge to handling and braking performance.

High quality interior

The BLS interior features high quality fabrics and materials. Simulated red walnut veneer trim inserts and leather seats in either black or parchment provide an overriding impression of quality.  The BLS interior is spacious with seating for five adults. Front headroom of 988mm and rear legroom of 935mm are the best in class. Boot capacity of 425 litres can be expanded by dropping the folding rear seat which has a 60:40 split.

The Cadillac BLS comes standard with a powerful sound system that includes a radio, CD player and seven speakers from American Hi-fi specialists BOSE. Steering wheel mounted remote controls for the sound system provide ease of adjustment for the driver.

Automatic climate control is standard on the top of the range V6 model. On this system the driver only needs to set the desired temperature and the system will then automatically control the inputs of cooling air, heat, air distribution and fan speed.

The system measures the interior air temperature in real time using a patented mathematical energy balance model. This enables it to automatically adjust the cooling before the interior climate actually changes. Green tinted, heat-absorbing glass is fitted for added insulation. The balance of the range is fitted with a manual climate control package.

All windows are power operated as are the side mirrors. Additional comfort features include an adjustable centre armrest for the front seats, a centre armrest for the rear seat, and four cup holders – two each for the front and rear of the car.

A three-spoke leather covered steering wheel is fitted. Telescopic and height adjustment are available.

Remote control central door locking with deadlock and a programme feature is standard on all models. The theft deterrent system includes a siren with its own back-up power supply, an intrusion sensor, and a tilt sensor. A transponder key immobiliser is fitted.

Superb driving dynamics and safety specification

The front suspension is a McPherson strut system while a four-link system is used at the rear. Both have been designed with the high levels of engine performance and high handling and comfort expectations of a premium mid-size sedan. The BLS chassis has been tuned to ensure dynamic handling performance and stability without compromising comfort.

The body has a high torsional rigidity with the passenger cell made predominantly of high-strength steel used in combination with aluminium and super high-strength steels. In the event of a frontal collision the impact energy is distributed through three main load paths and defined deformation zones. Deformable crash boxes behind the front fenders prevent damage to the body in impacts of up to 15 km/h.

To protect occupants in side impacts, the door pillars function much like a pendulum, hinging at the top and swinging at the base in a controlled movement. This deflects the energy of the impact from the occupants’ head and chest areas to less vulnerable areas of the body.

Additional safety features include front air bags for both driver and front passenger, side-seat mounted airbags on the front seats for thorax protection for the front seat occupants, and side curtain air bags that provide protection for the driver, front passenger and occupants of the outer two seats at the rear. Active headrests fitted to the front seats reduce the risk of whiplash injuries. Pyrotechnic seatbelt tensioners and force limiters are fitted to the seat belts for the front seats and the outer rear seats. All five seating positions have 3-point seat belts.

Large diameter ventilated brake discs are fitted front and rear and are linked to a four channel ABS system. Traction control, electronic brake assist, and Cadillac’s Stabilitrak vehicle stability enhancement system with cornering brake control (CBC) complete the electronic driver aids suite. CBC regulates the brake pressure at each wheel individually if the brakes are applied in a bend to increase cornering stability under this condition. Cruise control is also an element of the electronic driver aids package on the Cadillac BLS.

Added features for the Cadillac BLS 2.8 V6

This premium model in the Cadillac BLS range offers a number of extra luxury features over and above the comprehensive list of features of the 1.9D and 2.0T models.

  • The BLS V6 is fitted with 7.5JX17 alloy wheels fitted with 235/45 R17 tyres in place of the 6.5JX16 alloy rims and 215/55 R16 tyres of the smaller engine models. All have a full size spare wheel.
  • Electronic Stability Programme Plus enhances the suite of electronic driver aids.
    • An 8-way power adjustable seat is provided for the driver.
  • Floor mats matched to the carpets are provided for the front and rear.
  • Front fog lights are included in the top-line specification.
  • Automatic rain sensing windscreen wipes are part of the V6 package.

Key dimensions

  • Length  4 680 mm
  • Width (no side mirrors)  1 762 mm
  • Height 1 449 mm
  • Wheelbase  2 675 mm
  • Track front/rear   1 524/1 506 mm
  • Luggage capacity (VDA std) 425 litres
Gerald Ferreira

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Published : Wednesday March 7, 2007

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