Like the Saab 9-3 Sportwagon but want something with an edgier appeal? You probably haven’t considered the Cadillac BLS Wagon but it’s built on the same underpinnings and, as such, is a solid choice. Forget about the usual Yank stereotypes – this one has been fast tracked right up to the Euro class best.
You could choose to see Cadillac’s BLS as a very smart piece of product development. Rather than plough enormous amounts of money into a model that, despite Cadillac’s boldest projections, will always be a niche player in European markets, the BLS could only be realised on the basis of shared costs. Hence the ‘Epsilon’ platform it shares with Vauxhall’s Signum and Saab’s 9-3. As long as the fundamentals are right, and there’s a decent amount of scope for each manufacturer to put their personal stamp on the cars, as is the case here, then the formula’s a winner. Especially in estate ‘Wagon’ guise.
The engineering underneath the car is tried and tested GM fare. That means that you’ll get a front-wheel-drive chassis with a choice of either 175bhp or 210bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo models or a 2.8-litre V6 turbo that punches out a hefty 255bhp. There’s even a 1.9-litre direct injection turbodiesel engine that’s good for 150bhp, a first for Cadillac. It’ll notch off the sprint to 60mph in just 9.3 seconds but the in-gear acceleration times that really indicate a diesel engine’s torque response have been slashed dramatically.
The 1.9-litre TiD’s powertrain includes the most advanced diesel particulate filter on the market, enabling Euro IV emissions compliance - an essential requirement for many company car drivers. Unlike other particulate traps, it is maintenance-free and self-cleaning, requiring no additives or periodic replacement. In order to clean the filter and to keep the exhaust flow as free as possible, these deposits are periodically burnt off by short pulses of over-fuelling. These briefly raise exhaust temperatures to the required level of 600º C. The process is automatically initiated when back pressure in the exhaust system reaches a certain level and is completely undetectable by the driver. The self-cleaning process takes place whenever necessary, irrespective of throttle load or engine temperature.
There’s a choice of three BLS Wagon variants. The standard trim level, ‘SE’, offers 16-inch alloy wheels, an engine immobiliser, front, side and curtain airbags, driver trip computer, a three-spoke leather steering wheel with audio control buttons, cruise control, air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, a seven-speaker audio system with CD player, and ‘Piano Black’ interior decor trim.
The intermediate trim level, ‘Luxury’, features additional standard equipment including Cadillac’s StabiliTrak electronic stability programme, wipers with rain sensors, an eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels. Red walnut wood veneer trim enhances the interior decor.
The top of the Range ‘Sport Luxury’ trim level additionally offers 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, xenon headlamps, and heated, electrically-adjustable leather front seats with memory function. The ‘Sports Luxury’ package will initially only be offered with the 255bhp 2.8-litre V6 petrol engine.
The Cadillac BLS shouldn’t be hugely expensive to run, especially if you opt for the turbodiesel variant which can average 48mpg and doesn’t do too badly on carbon dioxide emissions either. Naturally, if you go for the more powerful petrol engines, you’re going to run up bigger bills but the 2.0-litre turbo powerplants are very efficient.