Cadillac Enters South African Market


Cadillac Enters South African Market

General Motors South Africa has taken the wraps off the Cadillac BLS premium midsize sedan as it prepares for the introduction of this new model to South African buyers early in 2007. First seen at the Frankfurt Show in 2005, the Cadillac BLS had its European sales debut in the second quarter of 2006 and […]

General Motors South Africa has taken the wraps off the Cadillac BLS premium midsize sedan as it prepares for the introduction of this new model to South African buyers early in 2007. First seen at the Frankfurt 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.

Cadillac South Africa

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 model has set Cadillac on a path to doubling its sales in Europe.

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 starting with a 110 kW four-cylinder turbo diesel, the first turbo diesel to be offered in a Cadillac. The petrol engine options are a 131 kW four-cylinder turbo unit and a 188 kW 2.8 litre V6 turbo. This top-of-the-range engine is fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharger and variable phasing of the inlet camshafts.

All three offer a dynamic driving experience in tune with the performance expectations in the midsize premium sector. The turbo diesel model is offered with a six-speed manual transmission, while the four-cylinder petrol is offered with a choice of five-speed manual or automatic transmission. The V6 is offered with six-speed ‘tap-down’ automatic transmission.

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. A proud Welburn was on hand to present the BLS in South Africa at the
announcement of the entry of the brand into the local market.

“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.”

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.

High quality interior

The BLS interior features high quality fabrics and materials with gleaming black decorative elements on the entry level model, or tortoise-shell on higher grade models. The BLS interior is spacious with seating for up to five adults. Front headroom of 988mm and rear legroom of 892mm 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. Two-zone automatic climate control is standard on all models. 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.

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 powerful engines 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 which is used in combination with aluminium and super high-strength steels. In the event of a frontal collision the impact energy is distributed though 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.

Additional safety features include front air bags for both driver and front passenger, side curtain air bags which 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.

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 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.

Key dimensions

  • Length – 4 679 mm
  • Width (no side mirrors) – 1 762 mm
  • Height – 1 449 mm
  • Wheelbase – 2 675 mm
  • Track front/rear – 1 524/1 506 mm
  • Boot capacity (VDA std) – 425 litres

The Cadillac BLS Mission

The BLS will serve as “your first Cadillac” and bring new and younger buyers to the Cadillac brand. Customers will experience the Cadillac brand character in terms of bold design, better performance than competitors, generous equipment and quality execution.

Gerald Ferreira

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Published : Tuesday October 31, 2006

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