The Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept, which debuts today at the NAIAS, is a look at the new Cadillac flagship which goes into production in early 2012. The XTS’s brief is to replace the moribund DTS and STS sedans, a task that Cadillac desperately needs done properly if it wants to be taken seriously as a luxury competitor. So why is the XTS concept little more than a glorified Buick LaCrosse?
The XTS has the exact same 111.7 inch wheelbase as its LaCrosse cousin, bringing it in several inches shorter than the “entry” Cadillac, the CTS. This is no surprise, considering the XTS will be built on an AWD version of the same Epsilon II platform that underpins the LaCrosse, Regal and Saab 9-5. We had heard that a stretched “Super Epsilon” platform was being developed by Holden, but based the dimensions of the XTS, it seems clear that this is a plain-Jane midsized GM sedan under the skin.
To make up for the pedestrian underpinnings, Cadillac designers stretched the XTS out to 203.5 inches. The fact that much of the extra length is in the rear overhang might be Caddy’s attempt at fixing the EpsiII’s legendary trunk shortcomings. One thing is for certain: a LaCrosse with more weight and longer overhangs isn’t going to exactly embody the dynamic-forward, BMW-competing brand values Cadillac is supposed to be cultivating. And at 74.8 inches, it offers only 1.7 inches of width advantage over the LaCrosse, so it’s not exactly a stately cruiser either.
According to Cadillac’s release:
The XTS Platinum Concept design artfully conveys its focus on functionality through technology. It is the antithesis of the conventional three-box sedan, suggesting the active evolution of Cadillac’s design language.
Which means that it looks like a larger version of the Cadillac Converj, no bad thing in and of itself. But if you cover up the fascias, it’s harder than ever to shake the feeling that this is just another midsized car. But, says Cadillac, the XTS was an “inside-out” design. With an interior inspired by the natural beauty of an orchid, Caddy is banking on the XTS’s in-car comfort and “Platinum”-level luxury, including touch-screen navigation, laser-etched suede seats, other “hand cut-and-sewn” materials and organic light emitting diode displays.
The concept has a theoretical plug-in hybridization of Cadillac’s famous 3.6 liter engine, making 350 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. What, you were expecting a V8 in Cadillac’s flagship? Magnetic Ride Control is another technological add-on that might make the XTS somewhat distinctive from its Buck brother.
Still, the contrast between the XTS concept and the production version of the Lexus LS or even the Hyundai Equus is stark. GM is clearly spending its Cadillac development money on the ATS BMW 3 Series competitor, rather than trying to keep up with the high end of the luxury flagship market which already has strong contenders on the value (Equus), technology (LS) and snobbery (Merc S-Class) fronts. But then, the 3 Series segment isn’t exactly short on competition either. And without a flagship that screams Cadillac brand values, it’s hard to see where the brand has to go.