Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Saabillac... Or, An Ode to the Cadillac BLS!

Well, as if I needed another reason to be intrigued by the Saab brand, it turns out that the Swedish automaker also manufactured a badge engineered Cadillac alongside the 9-3.  This car of course was the BLS!

Produced from about 2005 - 2010, the BLS was GM's pre-ATS attempt at marketing a competitor to the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class... basically all of the German luxury sport-compacts.  The ultimate goal was to finally provide Cadillac with a firm toehold in the European market.

Of course, given that the BLS was a front wheel drive configured sedan with allegedly poor steering feel, the car wasn't able to fully realize GM's sport-compact dominance aspirations due to the platform's inherent flaws.  Apparently though, the vehicle was an exceptionally comfortable long distance cruiser... much like the Cadillacs of old!  And according to this video review from MSN Cars, the car featured a pretty kick-ass stereo.  So at least if you couldn't enjoy driving the car, you could enjoy being in the car.  Something to be said for that.

Also, the BLS did offer a good range of engine options that were, on paper, competitive.  There was a 1.9L turbo diesel that put out 150hp (190hp 2007-), a 2.0L turbo four that put out 170hp - 210hp and a 2.8L V6 that yielded 250hp.  However, these were essentially identical to the offerings that could be found in the Saab 9-3 (not surprising since they were made in the same factory). 

Despite being an decent overall car, there are already a lot of those crowding the European market.  Bottom line, Cadillac's European rivals were never in any real danger of being overtaken by the BLS.  The reputation of the German automakers were just too much to legitimately take on with a badge swapped GM hackjob.  Honestly, if someone offered you the keys to either a turbo V6 BLS or a BMW 335i, which would you take?  The question is rhetorical, since the public almost never opted in favor of the Cadillac and production was mercifully halted at the turn of this decade after 5 years of dwindling sales.

Fortunately, GM has learned from these mistakes and has taken the right steps by painstakingly engineering an able competitor to the German mainstays in the ATS.  Best of all, this time the American made Bimmer beater is available in North America!  Turns out if you want to successfully do something, you have to do it right.        


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