Cadillac's first-ever turbodiesel car will make its debut at this month's Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. The front-wheel drive BLS will compete in the medium-sized luxury car market and will be built in right-hand drive as well as left-hand drive.
It's part of Cadillac's move into international markets, and follows the launch of the CTS in 2003, the XLR and the SRX in 2004, the STS in 2005, and the brand-new STS-V and XLR-V.
Cadillac is also offering the BLS with petrol engines.
The BLS was styled by an international team of designers led by GM's vice-president of design Ed Welburn. It follows the current Cadillac idiom with clear, sharply-defined contours, pronounced wedge shape and an elegant interior.
The styling includes striking vertical lines at the front and rear, and the Vee-shaped chrome-plated grille, a Cadillac cue, is picked up again by the bootlid.
The BLS has jewel-like headlights, foglights integrated into the body-coloured bumper and a wide air intake below the grille. A narrow chrome strip runs along the lower edge of the side windows. The latest LED technology is used in the centre high-mounted brake light, which is prominently positioned on the bootlid and extends across the vehicle. It also functions as a spoiler.
The vertical taillights have been designed to leave no doubt that the BLS is a Cadillac. The interior is deigned to provide a luxurious atmosphere and has state-of-the-art infotainment systems. There is a three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and an analogue clock in the centre stack. The circular instruments have white numerals and red needles on a black background.
The infotainment systems include high-quality audio units from American hi-fi specialist Bose, a DVD navigation system with touch screen operation, a Bluetooth-enabled cellphone system with a hands-free kit, and remote controls on the steering wheel.
"The BLS was developed for luxury customers, with particular attention to the demands of the European and other international markets," says Cadillac general manager Jim Taylor. "It provides a critical entry with which to (develop) our business in key international markets."
The BLS' turbodiesel engine is a 1.9-litre four-cylinder unit, with common-rail direct injection technology. It develops 150bhp, and is fitted with a maintenance-free diesel particulate filter and complies with Euro 4 emissions standards.
The petrol engines are all turbocharged. Two are 2.0-litre four-cylinders developing 175nhp and 210bhp. The third motor is a high-tech 2.8-litre six-cylinder developing 255bhp. It has a twin-scroll turbocharger and variable phasing of the intake camshafts. BLS gearboxes are five or six-speed manuals and five- or six-speed automatics, depending on engine type.
In keeping with Cadillac's current luxury sports sedan positioning, the BLS' chassis has been tuned for sharp dynamics. It has McPherson strut suspension at the front and a four-link rear axle. The chassis has been tuned to provide dynamic handling without compromising comfort.