American revolution in car design Leave the windows alone, or you won’t get any ice cream!” I was about 5 when my father had a Cadillac for a very brief time. I remember the roomy back seat and what was a fascinating novelty at the time: power windows. How did my father expect me to leave the window in one position, when that little lever on the armrest was so tantalizing? It was obvious to me even then why Cadillac was a luxury marque. Power windows are practically de riguer these days — especially for luxury models. The new-for-’03 Cadillac CTS still features a roomy back seat, but little else about the American-built car is recognizable. In an attempt to keep up with its competition, Cadillac has broken a lot of new ground — and will continue to make changes for the next model year. All angles and sharp corners, the CTS on Lockhart Cadillac’s lot bucks the rounded retro design craze. Jutting out its front bumper like Billy Bob’s jaw in Slingblade, a serious under-bite bares a grin beneath a traditional Cadillac eggcrate grille and wide-set headlights pushed to the forefront of its nearly negative overhang. Brawny, muscular girth extends the length of the car, converging in the signature V-shape crease in its J-Lo-proportioned rear. It’s a look that takes considerable getting used to. But get used to it now. By ’06, Cadillac’s other models will share the “Art & Science” design. If you squint, it’s easy to picture that rugged grille on an SUV or truck, but the Seville? Inside, like outside, the CTS is unique in today’s market. Emulating European luxury cars in its instrument panel display, the CTS features programmable buttons on its tilt steering wheel, a volume dial — not the typical paddle — for the Bose sound system and the obligatory cruise control. There are more gadgets to play with than just power windows: heated leather adjustable seats, dual climate control, moon roof, talk-note recorder and three programmable garage door controls, to name a few. Providing more front and rear space than any of its competitors, the CTS still manages to offer ample trunk space, with an optional fold-down rear seat or pass-through. Replacing the Catera, the CTS five-passenger, four-door sports sedan walks the line between luxury and performance. Lockhart offered me the most popular package: the Sport Package, with the Stabilitrak chassis control system, sport-tuned suspension, high-performance brake linings, load-leveling rear suspension, speed-sensitive power steering and 17-inch wheels. Tested on the infamous 13-mile-long Nurburgring circuit in Germany, the CTS offers Cadillac’s best-ever suspension package: smooth, responsive and able to absorb bumps of all sizes. Part of that is due to the strength of a stiff, heavy body. The rear-wheel car features an isolated subframe for the rear axle and suspension, and a solidly mounted front subframe for the engine, front suspension and steering. An added benefit to reduced road noise is precise steering. However, the CTS is a heavy car, every pound of which can be felt through the steering wheel. It may be responsive, but nimble, it’s not. Smooth, quiet, responsive: If you think it sounds like more emphasis is on the “luxury” than the “sport,” you’re right. The CTS isn’t slow, but it isn’t quick, either. Lacking low-end torque, the car is a better highway cruiser than back-street bruiser. Some of that may be addressed when the ’04 models upgrade to a 3.6-liter engine. Meanwhile, for an entry-level luxury sport package with one of the best safety ratings out there, the CTS is certainly a uniquely styled ride. As they say, it’s not my father’s Cadillac any more. 2003 Cadillac CTS 3.2-liter dohc V6 engine for 220 horsepower Sticker for model driven: $39,470 Fuel mileage: 18/26 Five-speed automatic overdrive transmission (available in five-speed manual transmission) Four-disc ABS brakes Power doors, locks, windows Eight airbags 17-inch wheels (sport package); 16-inch wheels (luxury package) Traction control Bose sound system Heated leather seats Dual temperature control

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