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Web Review: Cadillac

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On: Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 5:45PM | By: John Welch


Web Review: Cadillac

Last week we examined Porsche's impressive website. This time I'd like to exercise my unrealistic auto fantasy by checking out an American manufacturer. Cadillac, to be specific. If there is an American company producing desirable cars (even after all of Detroit's marketing puffery, this is still debatable), it is Cadillac. The Cadillac V-Series line has produced some interesting offerings, from the original CTS-V to the XLR-V, with its Bvlgari-designed dash and gauge cluster. Everything I have read regarding the new CTS-V makes me a little hawt under the collar. Let's see if Cadillac has done an acceptable job with their web campaign.

Cadillac.com

So, the home page is the usual "Choose your Continent" screen; we'll select 'North America' and then 'USA'. It appears that Cadillac expects return visits because you are presented with a small dialogue box asking if you'd like to make this your "Cadillac.com Preferred Region". Well, sure, I don't plan on any intercontinental moves any time soon . . .

Though it has a slightly generic feel, the first page after the 'location' test is clear enough. There is a nice 'Flash' graphic depicting the new SRX, a vehicle I find pleasing to the eye, if not way too portly. We aren't here for car-based SUVs anyway; where's the V-Series goodness? Fifth selection from the left at the top of the window, "V-Series". clickclickclickety-click.

All three "V' models are presented on the next page: the XLR-V, STS-V, and the King-of-the-Hill, the 2nd Generation CTS-V. Underneath the spec list of the CTS there is a button that the other models do not feature; "Experience the CTS-V Microsite." That is why I'm here, don't mind if I do . . .

For starters, the 'loading' screens are awfully cool. First you are greeted by the disclaimer: "The 556 HP Cadillac CTS-V, Nurburgring lap time of 7 minutes fifty nine seconds and three tenths. The FASTEST V8 production sedan in the world." Bold claim, I know, but it's true. I'm getting a little excited here. Next you flip to the actual loading screen, a clever outline of the 'Ring made to look like a fluorescent neon 'bar' sign. Different sections of the track light up as the page loads. 'Nifty-Keen' so my Grand Pappy would say.

Once loaded, the super-urgent, computer-generated 'score' fires up in your headphones, and the background displays the CTS from weird art-school angles, using weird art-school lens filters and adjusters. It is basically the original television commercial hacked up for the purposes of the website. Eh, seen it. Looking through the options it doesn't appear that there is any actual 'media' besides the usual photo gallery and product info. Underwhelming, frankly.

So, enough of this, let's get down to brass tacks and fashion me a Caddy. The option to 'Build Your Own CTS-V" is in the corner, and as I am getting a headache from the over-dubbed theme music, I anxiously select this option. Ok, this is a little stupid. They open a whole new window to show off their prized auto, and when you go to 'virtually personalize' one, the site reverts to the original Cadillac.com. Seems kind of 'busy for the sake of being busy' to me . . .

Back to building my car. Let's eliminate this awful string-laden crescendo blasting from an open but no longer needed browser window. Click. Much better. First thing, I am asked to enter my Zip Code. Done. My stock, option-free CTS-V starts at $58,575; let's see if I can keep it under 70 large. Next we make our color selection. The base Silver and Black hues are free, whereas the fancier paint ('Thunder Gray ChromaFlair' for instance,) costs an extra $995. Since there is nothing resembling a darkish Green, my first choice for most cars, I'm just going with plain 'ole 'Black Raven.' None of the interior treatments command any extra money; I went with Ebony/Cashmere. There is a 'Wood Trim' package, $600, but they don't offer any images of this 'trim'. I can do without that for the moment then. On to the best part, 'Mechanical Options'! This is where I might get into some fiscal trouble... (by the way, you have to love any automaker who devotes a section of options to 'Mechanical Options.' This is probably akin to "AudioFaceBlaster Options" from Scion or Lexus . .. )

GUH!! Stop right there! There is NO option for a manual transmission! Or if there is, it is not offered here. Sigh, that is a deal-breaker for me. Looking through the rest of the options list (a very short one), the only option I would select is the Recaro seating ($3,400, ouch!) and the Suede insert option, which endows your steering and shifting surfaces with satisfying Alacantaraish material. MMmmm. We are up to $65,700 so far; let's hedge our bets and 'check-out,' so to speak . . .

And that's where it ends: my $825 Delivery and Handling fee is included in the $65,700. A comparable BMW M5 will cost $20,000 more, and frankly, outside of a proper race course, the CTS will mop the floor with the Bimmer all day long. Why the hell haven't we been building cars like this for years??! A crime, I swear.

So, the Cadillac website is average, but it comes with some interesting graphic eye-candy and the interface is legible enough for octogenarians. I believe this is the central goal of the site: being accessible to the Innuhwebbed-Challenged. In this endeavor they have succeeded. I just wish I could get them to actually deliver this Black man-eater I just 'virtually' put together. Sigh, this reminds me, I haven't gotten my Powerball ticket yet . . .


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