Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe stocks fix-itself controls
Date Posted: 5/10/2005
WIGWAM, Ariz. -- The infield track at Phoenix International Raceway, wiggly like a spaghetti noodle, wore trappings of devilish tampering: At curves and other tricky spots workers had deliberately installed such automotive-unfriendly elements as pools of standing water and stretches of slippery sand.
The drill would be to steer one of several tester vehicles at speed through the dangerous maze, allow various road hazards to disrupt traction and, in effect, send this driver and his wheels into deep trouble.
In other words, I hoped to skid and spin each test car.
With several fancy imports my spin mission was easily accomplished, as each lost traction on the first tight corner where a film of water on pavement came between tire rubber and road asphalt, with hydroplaning results.
Keep in mind that the driver tried not to employ all of the fancy anti-spin accelerator-and-steering tricks gleaned from various race driving schools, as the point of these exercises was simply to experience the vehicle's trouble tendencies without educated-driver input -- all to simulate real-time road situations with real-life drivers aboard.
Even the ultra-pricy German touring sedan equipped with traction controlling throttle-and-brake interference could not navigate that slalom circuit through the sand hazard. Its rear end ripped to forefront during the second swerve, sending me off-course, heading backwards.
Then came the opportunity to test a new type of control system which shows up as standard equipment on Eldorado Touring Coupe, Cadillac's mid-size luxo-sportster.
Dubbed Integrated Chassis Control System, the complex computer-aided device integrates variable road-sensing suspension equipment with throttle response, traction control, anti-lock brakes, steering and other elements.
In effect, the system thinks for an inattentive driver.
When detecting vehicle yaw, or lateral slippage, smart controls figure out what to do to correct such potentially disruptive movement. For instance, the ICCS adds braking only to the inside front wheel, which not only slows the Eldo but turns it gently toward the braking wheel.
So it corrects itself, without needing a driver's skill to turn into the skid and work manually to prevent spin.
With oversteer -- whereby rear tires lose traction and start to come around -- the ICCS adds braking force to the outside front wheel, which forces tail back in line.
It also detects bumpy road surfaces, where application of brakes can dampen effectiveness of anti-lock controls and cause further skidding. Wheel sensors instantly determine a road's roughness, then adjust brake pressure in millisecond increments to help corral the car more effectively.
At Phoenix, the ICCS-equipped Eldorado Touring Coupe proved time and again that it didn't need a smart driver to correct movement through road hazards.
Set up a potential spin -- such as heading into a water-soaked curve with too much momentum -- and at the moment tires lose traction the magic begins with this invisible genie aboard who takes control of steering and braking and throttle and somehow manages to correct the car's bad behavior and pull everything safely back in line.
What an amazing safety asset.
Cadillac's new ICCS becomes an add-on option to base Eldorado, as well as base versions of DeVille and Seville sedans, but it's part of the package for upscale editions, DeVille Concours, Seville STS and Eldo's Touring Coupe.
Think of Eldorado Touring Coupe as a serious sport-tuned rendition of Cadillac's personal luxury coupe.
Since rebirth in 1992 with sensuous lines and impressive handling systems, the ETC has kindled a younger, more aggressive caliber of Cadillac customer.
The new edition, packing 300 horsepower under that extended hood, rips from zero to 60 mph in only 7.1 seconds and runs to a top speed of 150 mph on Z-rated tires.
To appreciate ETC, you must dismiss any residual mind-set gleaned from previous Cadillacs. This one, you see, has been built for speed, geared for sporty maneuvers, then laced with luxury elements of an imported touring model.
Obviously, Eldorado Touring Coupe writes new rules.
The car begins with a rigid dual-rail mid-size frame with beefy structural elements encasing the passenger cage in hardened steel.
Independent suspension elements at all corners include Cadillac's road-sensing system with fast-acting variable dampers, integrated rotary sensors to measure body and wheel positional changes due to varying road conditions, plus the microprocessor which interprets sensor input before commanding dampers to adjust to different road surfaces.
The sophisticated suspension complements Eldorado's powertrain package, the Northstar System.
It consists of Cadillac's remarkable 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 General Motors, Northstar is a self-contained package designed to run for 100,000 miles before tune-up.
The Northstar plant uses a 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.
Northstar's V8 connects to Cadillac's smooth-shifting 4-speed electronic automatic transmission outfitted with a torque converter clutch to perform firm shift sequences.
A powertrain control module with two 64-kilobyte computers regulates power flow, compensating for changes in altitude, temperature, even air conditioning load.
Drive it hard, like I did at that race course in Phoenix, and Touring Coupe exceeds expectations. And with ICCS aboard, it can correct any inflicted bad behavior.
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 ETC runs in the $40,000s, yet most sales go to Cadillac's 24-month lease with bumper-to-bumper warranty.
1997 CADILLAC ELDORADO TOURING COUPE
| Vehicle Specifications:
| 1997 CADILLAC ELDORADO TC Specs
||Mid-size luxury coupe
| Model Options:
||Mid-size luxury coupe
| Overall Length:
| Engine Size:
||DOHC 4.6-L V8
| Gas Mileage:
||$ 40,000 to $ 48,000