The Catera was the smallest Cadillac vehicle in production since the Cimarron was sold during the 1980s. Cadillacs all-new 1998 vehicle for the entry-level luxury car market was sourced from General Motors European brand Opel derived from the Omega MV6. A German-built vehicle, the 1998 Cadillac Catera was marketed as a new direction that would break away from the traditions of the American luxury brand. The Catera was promoted as The caddy that zigs when introduced. A rear-wheel drive sedan, the 1998 Catera was propelled by 3.0-liter V-6 engine producing 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. The engine was paired with a four-speed automatic transmission with a sport mode.
The 1998 entry-level Cadillac was premium equipped with standard features such as four-wheel disc brakes, power front seats, remote keyless entry, cruise control and a six-speaker stereo system. Options on the Catera included OnStar, power sunroof and five-spoke chrome wheels. First introduced midway through the 1999 model year, a Sport package was available on the Cadillac Catera comprising of a stiffer suspension and other performance-themed appearance items. The 2000 Catera received a considerable refresh signaled prominently by a revised front and rear end.
The 2000 model year Cadillac Catera also featured an upgraded stereo system, standard side airbags and an upgraded Sport package that included high intensity discharge headlights. Since the Cadillac Cateras introduction, the sedan received some criticism for being underpowered and bland styling. Sales of the Catera ended after the 2001 model year reaching total sales of around 95,000.