Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe gets a Northstar power boost
Date Posted: 5/10/2005
The Straits of Mackinac link those big lakes of Huron and Michigan, while Mackinac Bridge, a stunning suspension system stretching for five miles across these straits, ties together Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas.
Mackinac Bridge's broad lanes became my straightaway chute to test the increased horsepower packed into new Eldorado Touring Coupe, a serious sport-tuned rendition of Cadillac's midsize personal luxury coupe rigged with the extraordinary Northstar engine.
This is the car that since its rebirth in 1992 with sensuous lines and impressive handling systems has kindled a younger, more aggressive caliber of Cadillac customer.
The 1995 edition, packing 300 horsepower under that extended hood and sporting a nose job which looks downright serious, supposedly rips from zero to 60 mph in sub-8 seconds and carries a top speed of 150 mph.
We shall see.
Heading north onto Mackinac Bridge toward Saint Ignace, my right foot fell on the pedal. Cadillac's Hydramatic transmission dipped down a gear to pump the rpm action and power flowed immediately, surprisingly, literally pinning shoulders to leather seatback.
My Eldo surged ahead, centered in the bridge's wide lanes with scant traffic to interrupt the forward flow.
The speedometer climbed quickly to triple-digit figures, TC's aggressive nose cutting a clean path through the wind as fat 16-inch Z-rated rubber held a hard line.
From the cockpit, I had little sense of speed, due to this Eldorado's insulation from the humdrum outside world.
Music from a Bose 6-speaker stereo swirled in my ear, controls on the climate system held a comfy temperature, the contoured driver's bucket cradled my mile-weary back as the rearview mirror's inset compass pointed the way north.
Despite the rush across this bridge, I could detect no dramatic sensation of maximum velocity as might be experienced in a conventional Cadillac, where even freeway speeds feel like you're flying as fast as a beam of light.
Obviously, Eldorado Touring Coupe writes new rules.
To appreciate this marvel, you must dismiss any residual mind-set gleaned from previous Cadillacs.
This one, you see, has been built for speed, geared for sporty handing maneuvers, then laced with the kind of luxury elements you'd expect to find on an imported touring model.
Eldo TC's a new breed from General Motors, which is why it's drawing a new class of consumers.
The car begins with a rigid dual-rail midsize frame with beefy structural elements encasing the passenger cage in hardened steel. Independent suspension elements attaching at all corners include Cadillac's road-sensing system with fast-acting variable dampers, new integrated rotary sensors to measure body and wheel position changes due to varying road conditions, plus a microprocessor which interprets sensor input before commanding dampers to adjust to real-world road situations.
Result: Extreme control for ride quality, no matter what the bumps, twists, turns or flat feel of the road.
This sophisticated suspension sets the scene for Eldorado's powertrain package, dubbed the Northstar System.
It consists of the mighty Northstar 4.6-liter V8 engine with dual overhead cam configuration, 32 valves, platinum-tipped plugs, distributorless direct fire electronic ignition and sequential electronic fuel management.
As the ultimate engine invention from GM, Northstar is a self-contained system designed to run for 100,000 miles before the first tune-up.
This year's Northstar plant uses a new thermoplastic intake manifold to increase breathing efficiency -- the better the air flow, the better the idle and low-speed operation. At high speeds, this better breath ensures strong and dependable power flow, even above the mark of 5000 rpm. That's why I could push it so hard during my dash across Mackinac Bridge.
Various enhancements this year boost power from 295 hp to 300 in Touring Coupe, or from 270 to 275 in Eldorado.
The Northstar V8 connects to Cadillac's smooth-shifting 4-speed electronic automatic transmission outfitted with a torque converter clutch to perform firm shift sequences. Also, a powertrain control module with two 64-kilobyte computers regulates power flow, compensating for changes in altitude, temperature, even air conditioning load.
Another new system integrates anti-lock brakes with traction control and a steering-angle sensor that measures steering position. Ultimately, brakes modulate in harmony with either straight-line stopping or cornering action.
This is a highly complicated and technical system for coordinating brakes, steering, traction and power, but the bottom line becomes a car specifically oriented toward the hands-on driver who likes to have fun behind the wheel.
That's a marked departure from previous Cadillacs.
Several months after my rallye across upper Michigan, I returned to Detroit to spend a morning playing with a Touring Coupe on back routes near Dearborn. Since I already knew how fast this Eldo would do, this time I challenged it to hang tough through dicy curve sets and perform quick-cut tricks at lesser speeds, the kind of action an aggressive driver might desire in urban traffic struggles.
In each case, Touring Coupe exceeded expectations.
It behaved so precisely, carved out such hard corners, slipped so easily into traffic slots and rocked to a stop in such sheer space that I forgot I was steering a hefty chunk of Michigan metal -- clearly, this is not the kind of Caddy my daddy always drove.
No wonder Cadillac's marketeers report lower age limits for Eldorado buyers. They're young, affluent, demanding, seek hard power, ultimate comfort, pure convenience.
With these buyers in mind, exterior styling changes on 1995 Eldorado and Touring Coupe look serious and sporty: A macho nose, body-colored fascia and flush side lines, plus new shades like shale in eco-friendly waterborne paints.
Interior trimmings in premium leather and Zebrano wood set the scene for driver-friendly power controls and supreme personal comfort, with room for up to five adults.
Pricing for TC tops $40,000, yet 69 percent of sales go to Cadillac's 24-month lease with bumper-to-bumper warranty.
1995 CADILLAC ELDORADO TC
| Vehicle Specifications:
| 1995 CADILLAC ELDORADO Specs
||Midsize luxury coupe
| Model Options:
||Midsize luxury coupe
| Overall Length:
| Engine Size:
||DOHC 4.6-L V8 32v
| Gas Mileage:
||$ 38,500 to $ 42,000