Once considered the luxury standard of the world, Cadillac has been accused of falling behind the times and tastes of well-heeled customers. Former Audi chief Johan De Nysschen has been tapped to overhaul the luxury marque, and one of his first launches will be the new Cadillac CT6, a high-tech “prestige sedan” that will make extensive use of lightweight materials.
The CT6 designation also launches a new naming nomenclature for the brand, and will give Cadillac an all-new product that doesn’t replace any existing vehicles. One of the longstanding criticisms against Cadillac is the lack of an attractive, range-topping “halo” car meant to demonstrate what the brand is capable of. The closest thing Cadillac has right now is the slow-selling ELR plug-in hybrid, a car doomed by a high MSRP and a lack of dynamic driving. However, the Cadillac chief has confirmed that a next-generation ELR is already in the works, and an updated version of the current model will likely debut at the LA Auto Show next month.
The CT6 is the first stop on the road to a new halo car, and I’m not the only one hoping it takes its design inspiration from the sexy Cadillac Elmiraj concept. The hybrid 4.5 liter V8 engine in the Elmiraj has a less-likely chance of making it to production, though De Nysschen has already mentioned that a line of modular Cadillac-only motors is in development ranging from four-cylinder to V8s of varying displacements. Another promised feature is the just-announced Super Cruise, which will allow for a certain level of autonomous driving. The CT6 will however make extensive use of advanced, lightweight materials that Cadillac claims reimagines what a luxury sedan should be, allowing better fueling economy and a more spirited driving experience. Batteries will also play a big role in future Cadillacs according to some reports.
“This Cadillac will be the lightest and most agile car in the class of top-level large luxury sedans,” said Travis Hester, executive chief engineer, Cadillac CT6. “Using the lessons learned from our dynamic ATS and CTS product lines, we have developed an entirely new vehicle architecture for the CT6. It will employ a mixed material philosophy that combines the best and most efficient components optimized for each area of this new top-of-the-range car.”
Cadillac’s ambitions are in the right place, but I heard this same story during development of the ATS, which was supposed to rival the BMW 3 series. It hasn’t, at least not in the way GM had hoped, and it’s become clear a new direction is needed if Cadillac wants to truly become the standard of the world once again.