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With the new CTS, Cadillac set itself some mighty lofty goals, going head-to-head with some of Europe's best sports sedans. But if you listen closely, you can faintly hear the sound of champagne corks popping in Detroit as Consumer Reports gave the CTS top honors in the upscale sports sedan segment, beating out the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class.

Comparing the new CTS with the likes of the BMW 328i and Mercedes-Benz C300, the Cadillac was the only model to receive an "Excellent" overall rating from the discerning publication. The citation will undoubtedly sit nicely in the Cadillac trophy cabinet, right next to the Motor Trend Car of the Year award it took a couple of months ago.

Full press release after the jump.



PRESS RELEASE

Cadillac CTS Outscores Mercedes C300, BMW 328i in Consumer Reports' Tests of Sports Sedans

Separately, CR ranks new Chevrolet Malibu among the best family sedans; V6 Malibu achieves 'Excellent' overall score

YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The redesigned 2008 Cadillac CTS beat out the BMW 328i and the redesigned Mercedes-Benz C300 in Consumer Reports' testing of upscale sports sedans for the March issue. BMW and Mercedes-Benz have long been considered by many Americans to set the standard in the sport-sedan category.

The CTS achieved an "Excellent" overall score, surpassing both the 328i and C300, which received "Very Good" overall scores. The CTS is also ranked above some previously-tested sports sedans including the Lexus IS250, the Acura TSX, and the Audi A4.

While the CTS vaulted past most competitors, the Infiniti G35 and Acura TL still outscore it and lead this class in Consumer Reports' ratings. The CTS ranks third among the 12 sports sedans that CR has rated at its Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut.

In a separate "Auto Test Extra" report, Consumer Reports tested two trim lines of the new Chevrolet Malibu, the four-cylinder LT trim line and a V6-powered LTZ. The redesigned Malibu now ranks among the best family sedans in CR's ratings, just below the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry.

The more expensive LTZ posted an "Excellent" score and ranks fourth among family sedans in the $25,000 to $30,000 category. The Malibu LT achieved a "Very Good" overall score; ranking in fifth position overall, and just a fraction of a point behind the four-cylinder Camry LE.

"The Cadillac CTS now competes toe-to-toe with some of the best German and Japanese sport sedans," said David Champion, senior director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports. "There are more safety features and interior amenities in the new model. Fit and finish is greatly improved, and the interior is much more pleasant than in the previous generation."

There were a total of four vehicles in this test group--the CTS, 328i, C300 and Saab 9-3 Aero. The 328i and C300 posted "Very Good" overall scores and are ranked roughly mid-pack. The 9-3 earned a lower overall score, though still high enough to be in the "Very Good" range; it finished near the bottom of the ranking.

Consumer Reports is Recommending two of the vehicles in this test group, the 328i and the 9-3. The reliability of the redesigned CTS and C300 are unknown, so CR cannot recommend either vehicle. Consumer Reports only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Car Reliability Survey of its own subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

Full tests and ratings of the test group appear in the March issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale February 5. The reports are also available to subscribers at www.ConsumerReports.org.

The redesigned CTS is a notable improvement over the model it replaces. A taut suspension and excellent steering give the CTS agile handling. The interior is significantly improved, with higher quality materials. The CTS ($40,835 Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price as tested) is equipped with a 263-hp, 3.6-liter V6 that provides strong, responsive performance. Its six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and responsively. Braking on the CTS is very good overall.

BMW's 328i is a delight to drive, with a smooth, quick and refined powertrain, agile handling, and firm yet supple and controlled ride. Fit and finish is excellent, but the cabin is snug. The 328i ($39,175 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 230-hp, 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain makes the 328i smooth, refined, and quick. The 328i returned the best fuel economy of the group in CR's own tests, at 23 mpg overall, but it requires premium gas. Brakes on the BMW are very good.

The C300 is a capable car, and it is more competitively priced than the model it replaces. It is quick and refined. The taut suspension translates into a stiffer ride than that of the other cars in this group. The interior is quiet but snug. The C300 ($37,325 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 228-hp, 3.0-liter V6 engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain provides smooth and strong performance with decent fuel economy. The Mercedes' brakes are excellent, delivering very short stops in either dry or wet conditions.

The size and pricetag of Saab's 9-3 place it in the upscale sport-sedan class but the vehicle doesn't measure up to tough competition. CR's top-of-the-line Aero model has quick and smooth acceleration but lacks the refinement of the best sports sedans. The ride is stiff, the cabin is noisy and cramped, and fit and finish isn't as good as buyers expect in this segment. The Aero ($37,815 MSRP as tested) is equipped with a turbocharged 255-hp, 2.8-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission that deliver smooth, strong performance. The Saab's brakes are very good overall.

Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site; the magazine's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe to Consumer Reports, call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

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