Cadillac is coming down under. Holden offshoot GM Premium Brands Australia, which handles Saab and Hummer, has announced the American luxury legend will go on sale here from the fourth quarter (September-December) of next year.
Cadillac is taking the unusual step of launching its brand with just one model, the CTS sports sedan. It will be powered by GM's global 3.6-litre V6 (shared with Commodore) but the US car will feature direct petrol injection helping it to 227kW and 370Nm.
A manual version is sold in Britain but Australians will get a six-speed auto with two different suspension set-ups.
The CTS continues with Cadillac's sharp new design language with which the American luxury brand hopes to shed its "pimp my ride" image.
GM Premium Brands spokeswoman Emily Perry said Australian Cadillac dealers would be appointed from within the existing GM Premium Brands network.
"Our strategy is to bring in new-generation right-hand drive models as they become available," she said."With dealership volumes based on three brands [Saab, Cadillac and Hummer] it is possible to launch with one model, but there will eventually be others."
A 2.9-litre V6 diesel version of the CTS is believed to be in the works for 2009.
Interestingly, Ms Perry did not mention Cadillac's SRX luxury crossover, a Ford Territory-sized vehicle sold in right-hand drive in Britain and South Africa.
But with comments from reviewers such as "wobbles like jelly," (motoring co.za) "the steering is disconcertingly light and over-reactive," and "you'll look like a complete dick," (The Independent newspaper, London) perhaps Holden has already passed this one up.
Nor was there any mention of the Cadillac BLS, a Cadillac-ised version of a Saab 9-3, which has been a dismal sales failure in Europe.
But reviews have been much kinder for the CTS. "A serious attempt to match the quality, design and feature content of its European opposition," and "a pretty decent and engaging car," Britain's Autocar said.
We're intrigued, but we'll reserve our judgement until we get behind the wheel and see how it handles Australia's second-rate roads.
Pricing is expected to reflect the positioning of Hummer and Saab. Our guess is the CTS will come in somewhere between $70,000 and $80,000, reflecting a similar premium to that HSV charges over a standard Holden. Not that a HSV buyer would ever glance sideways towards the Cadillac ranch, would they? Not even for the LS2 6.0-litre V8-engined CTS-V previewed by Cadillac at the recent SEMA aftermarket and performance show in Las Vegas? Now that would be something different in the driveway!