by Gunnar Heinrich ::: Gregg Easterbrook on the Cadillac CTS-V and the Gulf oil spill
GREGG Easterbrook is being a bit of an ass.
Mr. Easterbrook writes for Reuters. His recent column is, “We cry over spilled oil, yet subsidize the production of ultra-polluting cars.”
Therein, Mr. Easterbrook has taken a rather misguided stab at the auto industry by linking the US Government’s stake in General Motors, the oil spill in the Gulf, and the monstrously powerful Cadillac CTS-V as all being part of the same ecological challenge. Why are we subsidizing our own pollution, he writes.
What’s his recourse? Stop producing the CTS-V, he suggests. Oh, and outlaw production of any car with balls. You know – there oughta be a law and government has the power, etc.
And in a vacuum, Mr. Easterbrook is absolutely right. Grandiose machines with grandiose power surely have no place on the road – do they?
Let’s pop this hot-air fueled bubble of righteous indignation here and now: it’s right that Cadillac makes the CTS-V. Among cool aspects, it makes Cadillac competitive - surely us tax payers would hate for GM to lose more money, right?
And it’s right that we have cars with increased horsepower that can go so much faster than cars ever could thirty and forty years ago.
Why is it right? Because that’s what some customers want. We still have liberty and choice. But that’s bad, apparently.
Mr. Easterbrook hyperventalates:
“At the very time we are reminded of the fragility and environmental consequences of U.S. petroleum consumption, at the very time President Barack Obama and many in Congress want regulation of greenhouse gases, federally subsidized General Motors is using taxpayer funds to build an extremely wasteful, ultra-polluting car.”
From this, we can only surmise one of two things:
1) That Mr. Easterbrook got cut off recently by some jerk driving a CTS-V – he makes many mentions of “road rage” in his soap-box column.
2) Mr. Easterbrook’s superior – be it in business or in social circles – drives one. And Mr. Easterbrook is silently seething with envy.
My bet’s on the former, though the latter is certainly probable.
The beauty of the marketplace is that we have the luxury of choice. For those who wish to profess an eco-friendly attitude – there is the much-hyped Toyota Prius as an example. Too bad that those Lithum Ion hybrid batteries are so toxic to the environment.
But, hey, Prius drivers can attain good gas mileage and that’s what counts for appearing environmentally conscientious at present. That said, I’ve been cut-off by a Prius driver. By a few actually - and each time driven by some jerk filled with his own special kind of road rage.
But back to the luxury of choice.
Yes, people can buy the government subsidized CTS-V for north of $62K. Those 556 horses are intoxicating – I can happily confirm that. But following green (il)logic, Mr. Easterbrook is right – the CTS-V emits 13.3 tons per year of CO2 – though that figure probably rivals Mr. Easterbrook’s own personal emissions.
And the saintly Prius emits – 3.2 tons per year of CO2 if driven 20,000 miles. On its face – that’s much more moderate than the glutenous CTS-V. Quite true, Mr. Easterbrook.
But here’s the catch that reminds us how we live in the real world and not in the vacuum of liberal hyperbole:
Toyota sold 139,682 Priuses in 2009. Cadillac sold fewer than 5,000 CTS-Vs.
That means, in real world terms, the Prius contributed to so-called man-made Global Warming far more than the CTS-V. By rough calculation, those new Priuses driven 20,000 miles probably emitted 446,982 tons of CO2 to the Caddy’s 66,500.
Chances are my math’s off. The Caddy’s carbon stats are probably high – given that the average CTS-V owner drives several cars and not all at the same time- and that the Prius emissions figures are low considering that hybrid drivers are generally a smug lot who like to travel.
Oops, I generalized. But didn’t he?
“Being behind the wheel has become stressful in part because so many cars are now overpowered; the slightest blip of the throttle allows aggressive driving. Reduce the horsepower, and road-rage behavior should diminish.”
Silly, Mr. Easterbrook.
Friends, cars = personal freedom.
Some are more powerful than others. But let’s not allow some misguided columnist’s delusions of “social responsibility” mix with the high octane of science and engineering.
It scares the horses.
Mercedes-Benz S320 cdi
Last winter yours visited London to watch 2007 turn into 2008. Like New York, London possesses a true magic around Christmastime. That said, I wanted to get out of the West End’s cozy confines and explore the nether regions of the city’s outskirts – like the Isle of Dogs and Hampstead. To do this, you could spend all day wearing out your Oyster card submerged in the Tube or, if you’re lucky as I was, you could have a chauffeur take you to points near and far.
But when the Uzbek man, clad in petty coat and driving gloves, stepped from the silver Sonderklasse to greet me, I couldn’t resist asking if he’d let me drive. Taken aback from never having been asked the question, he looked at me quizzically. Then after a brief moment of contemplation and with all the militant vigilance of a Russian solider manning a Soviet-era missile silo, he said yes.
From behind the wheel you stare down into an analog display that appears from what’s essentially a flat screen monitor. Select the nightvision feature and the speedometer yields the stage to a black and white view of what’s further ahead than your Xenon lit sightlines. The S-Class is a technical wonder and yet, unlike its predecessor, it doesn’t wear it on its sleeve.
The ergonomics are simplified and thanks to Mercedes’ own version of iDrive (which works better if only for the rotating dial having an adjustable stopping point to match each menu so that you don’t continue to spin after the last menu option’s been reached) many specific buttons have been replaced to leave room for basic controls. That said, the column shifter and the dual screened dash are clear copies from BMW’s old 7er. Time will prove this unwise…
The big Benz feels like an S-Class again. Those who think that Mercedes stopped producing grand sedans in 1999 or quality cars, in general, in 1996, will be relieved somewhat by this latest generation’s attention to detail and use of materials. And that this diesel model, which in its refinement didn’t clatter like an oil burner, was able to propel us both to 60 in a little more than seven seconds stands as a new accomplishment for Benz’s best. This latest iteration wears the “S” badge proudly.
BMW 128i Convertible
BMW needs the 1-Series. It’s right to remind us that before the days of 16-way power comfort seats and Bluetooth enabled integrated communication systems (to say nothing of iDrive), BMW was about building sedans, coupes, and convertibles that went down the road better and often faster than something half its size, weight, ground clearance and at least twice its sticker. The original 2002, the 80’s 3er, even the Z roadster show us Bavarian engineering at its least serious and most playful.
The 128i convertible that BMW gave us over the summer brought all that back. It’s a tight, balanced 2+2 droptop that’s really, really fun to drive. There’s such joy in the mere act of turning the wheel, shifting, and braking. The straight six makes all the right noises and revs freely and, despite being the less powerful option, finds 60 mph in the mid sixes.
The 1er’s only detraction is that it’s expensive. For a deliberately simplified car (there’s a fixed plastic antenna in the rear panel, for instance) and one that’s a little cheaper in the details (the wood trim’s plastic) even in convertible form, the 1-Series should start in the low 20s. Trouble is, with packages, you’re looking at a high $40K car in low $30K car clothes. And that reeks of profiteering in a bad car market.
BMW should drop the MSRP on this exemplary ragtop and let more people enjoy the drive.
Pontiac G8 GT
If Pontiac weren’t such a beaten marque, the G8 GT would be a no brainer on anyone’s performance sedan list. That it turns the heads of so many BMW drivers is testament to GM’s Australian division, Holden, which has put together one incredible American muscle car and included all the refinement you wouldn’t expect from a Pontiac.
Make no mistake, this car has grin inducing bravado. Defeat the traction control and plant your foot and the rear happily steps out. The V8 makes such beautiful music and pulls heroically. To be sure the G8 GT runs fast, brakes fast, turns fast, and charms fast. It’s neutral handling gives you self assurance to really press hard. But put away the driving gloves and the menacing intent and the G8 GT backs off to become a truly civilized sedan. That said, too much tyre noise gets into the cabin and passengers in the rear complain of a harsh ride.
They can deal with it. The G8 GT rocks. It has so much built-in character that you forget the fact that it’s a Pontiac. If this car came with a set of clover keys and an Alfa Romeo badge, there’d be dealer markups and waiting lists even in this nasty market. But it’s a Pontiac and that stops too many people from appreciating one of the best performance sedans on the road. Did I mention that this exemplary car starts at under $30K?
The CTS-V represents one huge leap for GM. This monstrously powerful car demonstrates, irrefutably, that the General still has the capacity to do great and noble things.
In this case, GM has given the world the gift of one of the best high-performance sedans ever made – a true rival to the usual suspects. Adding to this package of technical brilliance is an aggressive exterior coupled with a refined, yet sporting interior that features black piano wood trim.
Where the standard CTS fell down in performance and execution, the CTS-V more than rises to the occasion. Your best bet is to buy two; one for you and one to let neighbors, friends, and family borrow. Or better yet, rent out in your own pay-to-play scheme. Think of it as your own noble act in community service or as a money making venture. Because they’re sure to come knockin’.
By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG by GM via CadillacFaq
CADILLAC’S CTS-V is pure road going violence.
It’s as though a certain fear and loathing drove the designers, the tuners, the machinists, the suppliers, the engineers, the writers, and the executives all to the same point of critical mass. The result is a savage machine of extreme brutality and exacting finesse- an American psycho.
The CTS-V, meine Herren, is Cadillac’s Manhattan Project; it’s 6.2 Liter V8, the de-tuned Little Boy to the Corvette ZR1’s Big Boy.
But with the launch of this new flagship (of sorts) Cadillac’s future is placed on hold along with everyone else’s. There’s nothing in the immediate pipeline that harnesses the same capacity to upset the balance of (horse)power. Not the next SRX. Not the CTS coupe or wagon.
As if America’s luxury market needed upsetting.
Until the smoke of public inquiry clears, there can be no progress beyond CTS-V for Cadillac. Not one cubic inch.
There’s nothing more to be done until whatever new day finds them. And even then, there are no promises.
And that brings us to that nasty thing about fear. There’s no safe. It holds no sanctity for Christmas. Doesn’t guarantee expiration with the New Year. It’s omnipresent so long as there’s cause.
At this point in the marque’s history, does too much depend on the success and recognition of one car?