A few years ago, I received a call from Yas Marina Circuit. They needed a couple of professional drivers for a VIP event on the track.
Such events happen quite often in Yas, so my colleague instructor and I took to business as usual. Strangely enough, however, the organisers kept quiet on the identity of their guests, going as far as to tell us not to ask any questions at all.
Even stranger was that soon after our arrival, the area was surrounded by black, tinted cars, out of which a dozen security officials appeared, complete with menacing stares and body armour.
There was a buzz in the air. Who could it be that was so important? A short while after, a Cadillac Escalade arrived at the circuit, escorted by several cars and, as it turned out, the former director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), General David Petraeus. Stepping outside the car.
One of the most powerful individuals on the planet simply introduced himself as ‘David’.
Suddenly, the dozens of movies which featured massive American SUVs driven by federal agents did not seem so fictional after all. The Escalade, as it appeared, was the ‘it’ car for American VVIPs. And it lives up to the standard; it is rock solid, bullet-proof and arguably for some, quite luxurious.
Today, trying out the new edition of the massive car, I am quite excited. I am delivered the all-black version: elegant but bold at the same time. We hit the road immediately.
The 6.2L V8 EcoTec3 engine, capable of 420 horsepower and 624 Nm of torque at 4,100 rpm, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, is the only engine offered. Alongside it is the new coil-over front suspension and five-link rear setup, as well as a wider track, variable-assist electric power steering and Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control system with Tour and Sport modes. But it is enough.
The Escalade has its presence on the road and I feel like a king. The enormous seats are making me feel welcome onboard and the torque of the engine makes me go for kilometres in total and ultimate relaxation.
The interiors are the best you can ask for from an American car, yet still a little behind when it comes to the skillfully crafted details of its European competitors. There is plenty of technology in the cockpit, though the commands could be more intuitive.
The ride is typical of big SUVs: great visibility, some aerodynamic noise coming from the outside, a lazy change of direction, sensible pitch and roll in the weight shifting. Nevertheless, it all happens quite naturally and it only takes a few kilometres to feel at total ease.
The dimensions become a smaller issue only in case of tight parking, though the cameras are of great help, and so is the generous steering angle. I am driving the long wheel-base version, which boasts enough space for a total of seven passengers, as well as their luggage.
This model also features specifications directed at enhancing comfort and road safety. They include an upgraded Driver Awareness Package available on all trims, as well as a new Lane Keep Assist that is helpful when on cruise control.
Furthermore, the rear seat DVD system is now independent, while the 4WD control knob is also modified with new lighting indicators and the addition of the Live-View rear-vision camera to the rear-view-mirror, which makes all the maneuvers that more intuitive.
My intuition? This car will command respect on the road.
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