When Cadillac introduced the German-built Catera in 1996, it was touted as a near luxury car bred with fine European ride and handling and a healthy dash of American comfort. Unfortunately, the quirky ad campaign with its animated duck caused buyers to zig-zag around the Catera. Well, we’re happy to report, the duck is dead. But we recently tested two Cateras that definitely have, shall we say, a bit of a fowl attitude.
Because these Cateras are built more for serious drivers, than those just in pursuit of luxury and comfort. They are the 2000 Cadillac Catera Sport, and its one-off auto-show cousin, the Catera Steinmetz concept. Aimed at buyers seeking a true Teutonic feel, the Opel Omega based Catera Sport also benefits from the changes shared by all 2000 Cateras.
Such as a heavily revamped exterior, that includes a new, more distinctive front fascia, and hood. And on the Sport, high-intensity Xenon headlights, and a smaller, matte-chrome grille.
While around back, the body dons a new rear fascia and no-longer-full width taillights, as well as the Sport’s aggressive decklid spoiler, all riding on 17-inch aluminum alloys shod with H-rated Goodyear Eagles.
Catera Sport continues to draw power from Opel’s 3.0-liter twin-cam V6 that delivers the same 200 horsepower, and 192 pound-feet of torque. Which is routed to the rear wheels through a 4-speed automatic with Sport and Winter driving modes, and a new stand alone oil cooler.
Power reaches the pavement fast enough to push the Sport to 60 in 8.0-seconds flat. The 1/4 mile takes 16.1-seconds at 86 miles-per-hour. Both times a hair faster than the Catera we tested in ‘96.
Though most of the 2000’s Sport comes from those big wheels and tires, firmer shocks, springs and struts, and recalibrated speed-sensitive steering. And on Georgia’s challenging Roebling Road Raceway, the Catera Sport did show itself to be much more fun than the standard car. Granted, it won’t beat a BMW M5 through the twisties, but this Catera now feels tighter, turns faster, and pushes and rolls less. It’s a more involving drive, and would make the daily commute a lot more fun for most of us.
That’s in addition to the still high level of luxury features in the Sport’s aluminum-accented interior, including leather-clad sport seats with heat, side impact airbags, and 10-way power adjust, a more efficient dash with dual-zone climate controls and our car’s Bose CD/cassette stereo, as well as a simplified On Star GPS emergency communications system.
All for a lower 2000 model-year base price of $33,500. That’s quite a deal for a decked-out German-made sport sedan by anyone’s measure.
But while we like the Sport, the Catera that we want to buy is the Catera Steinmetz. A one-off show car concept that debuted at last year’s Chicago Auto Show, the Steinmetz is the product of Opel’s favorite tuning house of the same name.
Clad in a full set of aerodynamic add-ons, and outrageous pearl orange paint, this Catera is a real stunner. Cosmetic details include an aircraft-style fuel filler cap and twin rectangular exhaust tips, plus massive 18-inch alloy wheels.
But the real Steinmetz magic is under the skin. The 3.0-liter V6 engine is mated to a supercharger and intercooler, to produce a significantly boosted 284 horsepower, and 273 pound-feet of torque, while the suspension has been completely rebuilt, from dampers and bushings to springs. Brakes are also upgraded with huge 334mm discs and twin-piston calipers.
And as a result, this Catera really flies! Unfortunately, its one-off status meant that we couldn’t drive it as hard as we would like. But when gently pushed, the Steinmetz took to Roebling Road’s curves like, well, a duck to water.
It’s the quickest, most nimble, Cadillac that we’ve ever driven. A Cadillac that can really challenge a BMW M-Edition or AMG Mercedes.
The Steinmetz also takes the Catera Sport’s interior to a higher level, with trick seats, and a thicker rimmed steering wheel.
Racier equipment, for the raciest Cadillac yet. But if we can’t have the Steinmetz, we’ll be pleased to drive the Catera Sport any day! The duck may be dead, but from sampling both the Sport and Steinmetz, it’s clear to us that Cadillac intends for the Catera to have a long and popular life.
Engine: 3.0-Liter Dohc V6
Torque: 192 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 8.0 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.1 Seconds @ 86 MPH