Mention the word Cadillac to any BMW, Audi or Mercedes aficionado and you'll probably be greeted with a condescending smirk. And let's face it; General Motors' luxury brand hasn't traditionally posed a threat to the Germans. But it's all change these days. GM claims that Cadillac has substantially upped its quality and is now capable of beating the Teutons at their own game. The rude awakening came in 2009 when Cadillac's 556bhp, supercharged CTS-V saloon demolished the Nürburgring in a scarcely believable 7:59 minutes. It thrashed Germany's finest, the BMW M5, in its own backyard. Two years down the line we have a CTS as our long-termer. Keen spotters will have already noticed that this isn't the V version. Actually, it isn't even a four-door. But it is GM's answer to the likes of the Audi A5 and the Mercedes E-Class Coupé.
So does it stack up? The initial impressions are mixed. It looks rakish and the delicious concepty details such as the twin central exhaust and the pleasingly angular lines offer plenty of visual drama.
The cabin, although vastly improved, isn't going to have Audi or BMW boffins anxiously pacing their cubicles. But then the CTS does have a lower price tag on its side. It costs Dh195,000; that will only buy you a base 2.0-litre Audi A5. The CTS Coupé packs a 3.6-litre naturally aspirated V6, which despite an uncharacteristly restrained — read: annoyingly muted — engine note dishes up a healthy 306bhp. The 0-100kph time of around seven seconds is a far cry from the CTS-V, but it's on the money for a car of this type.
Over the next few weeks, one of our goals will be to find out just how much of the CTS-V Coupé's brilliance has rubbed off on its lesser sibling. We will also see if it suffers from the stereotypical American-car reliability issues. Most importantly, we'll ascertain whether the Cadillac CTS Coupé is indeed a worthy adversary to the likes of BMW and Audi.