Blue and yellow. Blue and yellow. Blue and yellow.
“We’re driving through the biggest storm of the year, and I’m sitting here, watching a movie, and getting a massage.”
Vivid LED-fired light bursts from a plow truck up the road pierced the fluffy snow, which had been falling thickly for some time now. I hadn’t seen pavement in two hours.
The unloading of a slush-stripe by the front tires into the rocker panel occasionally broke through the tranquility on board. And the countless white flecks of snow streaking past the windscreen had put me in the middle of a scene from Star Trek: piloting a high-tech craft through the darkness, the cold and the quiet.
But it was my passenger who tied it all together on this late night cruise through the Muskokas, through a blizzard, in the 2017 Cadillac CT6.
“Amazing,” said my childhood friend, Krista, riding shotgun. She laughed, a stark contrast to my intense focus on the current traction situation, while I tried to peer through the snow and ice slathering world around us.
“What’s that”? I asked.
“We’re driving through the biggest storm of the year, and I’m sitting here, watching a movie, and getting a massage.” Another laugh.
Krista was comfortably relaxing, her iPad streaming a film through the CT6’s on-board Wi-Fi, itself able to find a signal through all the snow, and in an area where cellular coverage is usually spotty at best. Her massage seat had been engaged into the ‘Knead’ mode for the past half hour. Mine, too.
Your writer, a fan of driving through this sort of serious weather – or perhaps, weather a little less serious than this) – was relatively chill, given the conditions. The cabin was whisper quiet, outside of the occasional lick of slush noise, and the occasional delightful scrunch of winter tires chewing into the snow beneath.
With TOUR engaged from the drive mode selector, the CT6’s body hovered over its lengthy wheelbase, virtually unaffected by bumps and dips and humps, thanks to the Magnetic Ride Control suspension. There’s hardly a squirm in the body on uneven roads, as the high-tech dampers work to all but neutralize body motions at their onset. The throttle is numbed, making it easier to apply gently. The steering too: heavy enough to prevent the startling pull when a single front tire hits heavy slush, but light enough to communicate a willingness to follow commands instantly.
Soft ambient lighting, the low-set instruments and good outward view, and even the smell of the CT6’s cabin, itself not unlike that of a leather clothing store on a hot day, all seemed to soothe.
This was one of those moments: a triumph of technology and engineering over the elements. Relaxing calm, as all winter driving hell broke loose outside. A spectacular car gliding gracefully through some spectacularly bad conditions.
The CT6 encapsulates everything Cadillac knows about building cars. It’s enormous, but relatively light. It can self-brake to avoid certain accidents. You can remote control it (starting, locking, though not driving) from your smartphone. The cabin has miles of hand-stitched leather, playfully intersecting with panels of wood and metal and interfaces and screens. The suspension can read and respond to the road with millisecond precision, nuking land-barge bounciness but keeping the comfort intact. And there’s a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, capable of 400 horsepower, the majority of which were idle this evening.
The all-wheel-drive system? Cruising, it’s invisible. Drivers neither feel, nor hear, anything happening as wheel-speed sensors, the throttle, and the continually-variable central clutch collaborate to keep the CT6 moving with maximum extraction of traction from the road. The engine, pegged at low revs, idles the CT6 along, also inaudibly, and imperceptibly. Even when stopped in deep snow, just hit the throttle, and she’s off – no wheelspin required to engage full traction, no sense of being stuck a moment before additional traction arrives, and no sense of struggle.
The massive central screen, with Android Auto engaged, was giving me pop-up, read-aloud alerts about the changing road conditions, several nearby weather warnings, and the continued pushing back of our ETA to arrive home in Sudbury. And, should I need it, real-life help from an OnStar advisor was just a button press away.
I didn’t need it, though.
Like clockwork, a little north of Parry Sound, we broke through a sort of weather force-field that separates the Snow Belt from the further-north. In the span of 90 seconds, the snow stopped, the roads cleared, and the temperature plummeted. This was the home stretch.
With the snow behind us, the Indirect Fire LED headlights took the spotlight. White, crisp light drenched the road ahead, and several meters into the roadside, too. There’s a defined beam cut-off, so there’s more light where it’s needed, none where it’s not. High beams just add more light, wider, and farther away. Someone who knew what they were doing set this lighting system up, and beyond the aim and calibration, the bright, clean white colour was appreciated. Even several hours later, my eyes were fresh and alert. This is yet another effective use of technology to turn in confident and comfortable travels.
The highway drive at speed? Remarkably quiet, thanks to the ultra-rigid structure, hewn from exotic alloys and fastened with exotic processes. Ditto the Active Noise Cancellation system, which zaps exterior noise as it enters the cabin, with special sound waves. To well past the speed limit, if you’re inclined, there’s no need to raise your voice for a conversation – even with rear seat passengers, who sit a good ways behind you.
After all, this is a massive car. Photos don’t do it justice. Stand next to the CT6, and it’s substantial. A long wheelbase. Chunky proportions that visually inflate its size. Open the rear doors, and you can see the abundant legroom, before you get seated and feel it for yourself. Want to treat your rear seat passengers to first-class travels? No worries – this top-line tester had rear reclining massaging seats just like up front, with individual climate control zones, wide-screen displays for movies, and window privacy shades, too.
The CT6 glides along, but without feeling soggy and overweight. There’s a creamy and consistent smoothness to the ride on all but the harshest roads, backed by the velvety smooth engine, steering, gearshifts, and even the action of the brakes, which aren’t too touchy, aren’t too numb, and never seem to engage abruptly, unless you smash on them.
That creaminess extends to almost everything on board. The window switches, gear shifter, signal stalk, even the action of the centre console lid, all feel finely honed to deliver a targeted tactile feel. And just try to find a piece of cheap plastic on board. You’ll be at it a while: in fact, virtually anything within your reach from the driver’s seat is covered in suede or leather.
The gist? This is a $103,000 car that feels, down to even the fine details, like a $103,000 car.
A few additional notes, relating to winter driving.
Even in SPORT mode, more in TOUR mode, and especially in the SNOW / ICE drive mode, the CT6 feels calibrated to move with careful and predictable caution over winter roads, and across varying surfaces, whether cruising, steering, accelerating, braking hard, or evading an emergency situation. The AWD system and stability control are calibrated to keep the car on course at all times, but with little system intervention detectable from the driver’s seat.
Pushed hard to accelerate or brake across mixed-traction surfaces, it’s slightly squirmier than a comparable Audi or Lexus, but still rarely spins a wheel wastefully when accelerating, or pitches sideways when full braking is summoned with one side of the car on ice, and the other on pavement.
Kill the stability control (hold the button for 10 seconds or so), and it’ll tail-slide for days, should drivers feel like throttle-steering their way through a winding and snowy backroad. More likely? You’ll leave all systems on, and feel massively confident for lousy-weather driving. And though the CT6 is light for its size, it still feels heavy, steady and solid when cruising in low traction.
Note that the tester was wearing a set of quality winter tires.
Complaints? The CT6’s size gives its identity away more than its looks, with numerous friends asking ‘which one is that?’ in reference to the generic Cadillac appearance to the thing, which Cadillac says is intentional. Further, and weirdly, the design of the doors, and the way they intersect with the roof, mean that CT6 can allow generous amounts of snow and rain to fall inside of the car when opened.
Several more pages are writeable to explain about the high-tech gadgets and safety systems. But, after spending two days under a severe weather advisory, and a few quiet hours driving through the winter’s biggest storm, one thing stood out most: there’s world class engineering deployed towards world class comfort and confidence that’s not easily degraded, even by awful weather.
Shoppers will find the largest return on their investment in the CT6’s traction-boosting technology no more apparent than it is in conditions like these. Here’s an authentic $100,000 driving experience, that’s authentically winter-ready.
|2017 Cadillac CT6 Platinum AWD|
|Engine Displacement: 3.6L twin turbo|
|Engine Cylinders: V6|
|Peak Horsepower: 404 @ 5,700 rpm|
|Peak Torque: 400 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,100 rpm|
|Fuel Economy: 13L/100km (City), 9L/100km (Highway)|
|Cargo Space: 433 L|
|2017 Cadillac CT6 Platinum AWD|
|Base Price $99,690|
|A/C Tax $100|
|Destination Fee $2,000|
|Price as Tested $102,530|
|Optional Equipment $740 – Block Heater $150; Rear Spoiler $590|