Complete Cadillac BLS lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

2006 Cadillac BLS - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions2006 - 2010 Cadillac BLS SedanBLS8 Trims 150 to 255 Hp

Cadillac BLS Design and Introduction

Even though the Cadillac BLS wears a Cadillac badge, it’s a bit challenging to see why that’s the case. This unique piece of Cadillac’s history was made specifically for the European market, and ended up being sold in a handful of countries worldwide including some in the Middle East, Mexico, South Africa, and South Korea. It was never sold in the United States or Canada. But it gets even more interesting. The BLS was first made in Sweden and is a restyled variant of the Saab 9-3, made along side of it and the Saab 9.5. If an engineering dropped a piece, it likely could have fit in a Cadillac on one side of the plant and a Saab on the other. Taking another step away from reality, Cadillac ended up moving production to Russia for the final two years. The Cadillac BLS ended up being a compact executive car that was available from 2005 to 2010 in 4-door saloon and 5-door estate body styles. 

Engine Options

The engines are far from the usual lineup for a Cadillac. A Fiat-designed turbocharged 1.9L diesel inline-4 engine with 150 to 180 horsepower was a popular option, and it was predestined to fail in comparison to the German engineering it would be going up against. Gasoline engines were available. Those included a 2.0L Ecotec inline-4 with a mid-pressure turbo option for 175 horsepower or a high-pressure turbo option for 210 horsepower. A final engine option for the Cadillac was a 2.8L V-6 turbo with 250 horsepower

But Why?

Why would Cadillac choose to create a redesigned Saab 9-3? Why would Saab allow it? Those are tough questions to answer. Cadillac had a desire to compete with the likes of the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, and the Mercedes C-Class. But being used to high-displacement, gas-guzzling engines meant that Cadillac was far out of its element in designing a true competitor, one that would end up being 15cm shorter than the company’s smallest model for the US market. So rather than try to figure out the entire design in-house without adequate expertise, Cadillac went for an international team behind the Cadillac leadership. In a collaboration between continents, the vehicle had the heart of a Fiat, chassis of a Saab, and the looks of a Cadillac. 

The Cadillac Looks

There was no doubt that this looked like a Cadillac, at least from a few feet away and if you didn’t pop the hood. It has a wedge-shaped body with vertical lines all over, a chrome-plated v-shaped grille, and and a central brake light. Interior was covered with high-quality leather and contrasting stitching. The deflectors for the heating and ventilation system are trimmed with polished aluminum. Oddly enough, a high-quality (American) Bose sound system was included, with a touch screen, DVD-player, and Bluetooth technology.

So It’s Not a Saab

Well, technically no. But also yes. If you look at the mechanical components, you’ll have a hard time telling a Saab 9-3 and a Cadillac BLS apart. But if you focus on the interior and exterior attachments, then there’s more distinction. The Cadillac uses different exterior sheet metal, wheel options, and logos. On this inside, the dashboard was redesigned, the instrument cluster is unique, and the headrests are different. Cadillac went as far as changing the logos on the engine covers and first-aid kits just to make sure everyone knows what they have. The BLS is officially known as the B-segment luxury sedan, but many call it the Bob Lutz special, in reference to the Vice Chairman Bob Lutz who oversaw HM product development at the time and allowed this project to go forward. He simply wanted to leverage the Saab skills to fill a hole in the Cadillac mindset. Why rework the wheel, even if you’re literally the one that’s supposed to make them?