The Truth About Cars » Flagship http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 20:52:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Flagship http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Cain’s Segments: Luxury Flagships http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/cains-segments-luxury-flagships/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/cains-segments-luxury-flagships/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2013 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=676962 444x350xTesla_Supercharging_in_Gilroy-444x350.jpg.pagespeed.ic.kxcAuWKYL-

As expected, the arrival of Mercedes-Benz’s sixth-generation S-Class provided a massive boost in sales just as Mercedes-Benz’s all-new CLA-Class arrived at the bottom of the lineup. Traditionally seen as the market leader, the S-Class has attempted to put aside all doubts by attracting more than 1900 U.S. buyers in each of the last two months. It’s popular.

Its rivals from the top of competitors’ lineups are, by recent comparison, rather rare. The S-Class sold 84% more often than the Lexus LS, its next-best-selling rival, in November 2013. LS volume is higher than its been since 2010, but as is the case with the S-Class, sales in this category simply aren’t what they once were. Lexus is on pace for fewer than 11,000 LS sales this year, yet they sold 32,272 copies in 2004. Mercedes-Benz USA sold more than 30,000 S-Class sedans as recently as 2006, but shouldn’t top 14,000 sales in 2013.

BMW’s 7-Series surely sees some of its possible sales siphoned off by the advent of the 6-Series Gran Coupe, an exceedingly stylish and similarly-priced sedan. After falling 8% in 2011, 2% last year, 7-Series sales are up just 1% this year. BMW USA sold 22,006 7-Series sedans in 2002 but will likely sell half that many in 2013. Meanwhile, the three-pronged 6-Series lineup will sell close to 10,000 units in 2013, not much (if any) better than what it achieved in the 2004-2007 time period, but approximately quadruple what BMW managed in pre-Gran Coupe 2010.

With a meaningful 9% year-over-year year-to-date increase, the Audi A8 is selling about half as often as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class over the course of the last eleven months. Back in 2006, when Mercedes-Benz sold 30,886 S-Classes, Audi A8 volume totalled just 5038. Sales then fell consistently until Audi was below 2000 A8 units in 2009 and 2010. The A8’s 7% November decline followed a 1% drop in September and a 25% decline in October.

In terms of YTD U.S. volume, the Jaguar XJ is the Audi A8’s closest competitor. Year-over-year, XJ sales rose 4% to 10,552 in 2004, when Jaguar also sold 10,975 S-Types and 21,542 X-Types. Compared with 2012, XJ sales are up by 522 units through eleven months. 32% of the Jaguars sold in America this year – and 8% of the Jaguar-Land Rover products – have been XJ sedans.

The Panamera accounts for 13% of Porsche’s 2013 U.S. volume; 22% of Porsche’s non-Cayenne volume. November, however, wasn’t a particularly positive month for the Panamera, sales of which slid 31%; 35% compared with November 2010. 28,402 Panameras have been sold in the United States since the model went on sale in 2009. 7741 were sold in 2010, its best year so far.

The Panamera brings up an interesting point, of course, that of the Cayenne’s impact. Ignore price points for a moment, and consider the total year-to-date sales of these same automakers’ flagship utility vehicles: 13,699 Audi Q7s, 37,865 BMW X5s, 3950 Lexus LX570s, , 27,673 Mercedes GLs and 2295 G-Classes, 17,128 Cayennes, and 10,881 Range Rovers and 13,671 Range Rover Sports. Cadillac, Infiniti, and Lincoln don’t have genuine S-Class alternatives, but Cadillac has sold a total of 20,203 Escalades this year, Lincoln has sold 7671 Navigators, and QX56/QX80 volume is down 13% to 11,398.

Still wondering where large luxury limo sales went?

Still want to know what’s up with the Hyundai Equus, a car which is priced more in keeping with an E-Class than an S-Class? Sales are down 11% to 3226 in 2013. Hyundai USA set an Equus sales record with 435 sales in August. Cadillac XTS sales are up 147% to 29,889 in 2013; up 31% in a like-for-like six-month period. Lincoln MKS sales are down 13% to 9719 in 2013.

Tesla’s sales figures for the Model S, a vehicle with which you could form an S-Class-rivalling argument, aren’t released monthly or with specificity but are estimated to be around 16,950 through eleven months with approximately 1400 November sales. (We don’t ignore it for lack of relevance but because of data dearth.) The Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class are down 2% to 7539 and down 0.5% to 7322, respectively. Total Maserati sales are up 55% to 3715 in 2013, total Bentley sales are up 21% to 2519, and other luxury marques don’t report monthly U.S. figures.

Auto
Nov.
2013
Nov.
2012
% Change
11 mos.
2013
11 mos.
2012
%
Change
Audi A8
503 541 -7.0% 5582 5102 +9.4%
BMW 7-Series
617 939 -34.3% 9813 9676 +1.4%
Jaguar XJ
465 266 +74.8% 4985 4463 +11.7%
Lexus LS
1039 1309 -20.6% 9663 7059 +36.9%
Mercedes-Benz
S-Class
1907 1374 +38.8% 11,446 10,684 +7.1%
Porsche Panamera
472 680 -30.6% 4921 7131 -31.0%
Tesla Model S
(HybridCars.com Est.)
1400 800 +75.0% 16,950 1620 +946%
Total
6403
5909 +8.4% 63,360 45,735 +38.5%
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Mark Reuss More Or Less Confirms Elmirajish Flagship: “You Make A Statement With A Coupe” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/mark-reuss-more-or-less-confirms-elmirajish-flagship-you-make-a-statement-with-a-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/mark-reuss-more-or-less-confirms-elmirajish-flagship-you-make-a-statement-with-a-coupe/#comments Thu, 28 Nov 2013 14:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=665842 2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

Last July GM CEO Dan Akerson confirmed that the automaker’s Cadillac brand was working on a flagship sedan larger than the XTS, to play in the big leagues with the BMW 7 Series, the Mercedes-Benz S Class and the Lexus LS, on sale by 2015. While at the recent Los Angeles auto show media preview, Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North American operations, strongly hinted that the big rear wheel drive platform may first appear as a coupe, not a four door sedan. “That’s the car Cadillac needs,” Reuss told USA Today. “You make a statement with a coupe. You don’t make a statement with a sedan.”

Obviously, the bigger money maker would be a sedan with greater production numbers but Reuss echoes the comments of a lot our readers vis a vis the Cadillac brand: bring back something big and brash, unapologetic about being a Caddy coupe, maybe even name it Eldorado after the most expensive Cadillac coupes of yore. Cadillac says that the Elmiraj is named after a dry lake bed in California famous for land speed attempts, but the alliterative connection to the name Eldorado can’t be a coincidence.

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

The design team responsible for the Elmiraj seems to understand what made the Cadillac brand “the standard of the world” in its heyday. “It is back to the American optimism of the ’60s,” says Gael Buzyn, who designed the interior. Niki Smart, who headed the exterior design team seems to understand that Cadillac was the brand for people who had arrived, who had made something of themselves. “This is for people who’ve done all their fighting, have earned their stripes.”

A coupe based on the same bones as a top shelf sedan could act as a halo for both the sibling sedan and for the entire Cadillac lineup.

Cadillac Ciel concept

The Elmiraj is the second act of what Cadillac says is a three act play regarding their new top of the line car. Before the Elmiraj coupe dazzled people at Pebble Beach this summer, the Ciel four door convertible was such a big hit on the show circuit in 2012 that they brought it around again in 2013. The third act is being teased by Cadillac as an “arrival”, without saying whether it’s going to be another concept vehicle or the actual production flagship, be the first one a coupe or a sedan.

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Akerson Confirms: Cadillac Will Build Large RWD Flagship, Just Not the Ciel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/akerson-confirms-cadillac-will-build-large-rwd-flagship-just-not-the-ciel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/akerson-confirms-cadillac-will-build-large-rwd-flagship-just-not-the-ciel/#comments Mon, 22 Jul 2013 20:15:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=496686

During a visit to USA Today‘s editorial offices, CEO Dan Akerson of General Motors clarified the question of a rear wheel drive Cadillac flagship.  Akerson confirmed that Cadillac is indeed working on a RWD based model that will likely slot in above Cadillac’s current top of the line XTS sedan and probably go on sale in 2015.

 

According to USA Today, that car will be “very loosely based” on the platform underpinning the new 2014 CTS, not a platform from GM’s Australian subsidiary, Holden, which has supplied platforms for many recent RWD GM cars like the Camaro, the new Chevy police car and the Chevrolet SS. It will come in an AWD version, considered by many in the luxury field to be an essential feature to be able to sell cars north of the Mason-Dixon line. Though the XTS also comes in an AWD version, the new sedan is not likely to replace the biggest current Caddy. Though sometimes derided by enthusiasts, the XTS sells well, in this country and in China. In North America, GM sells about as many XTS models as it does with the CTS. Akerson made a point of saying that the new large sedan will not resemble recent Cadillac concept cars, making it clear without saying so that the Ciel is dead, as was reported recently. The flagship, along with other upcoming Cadillacs will, however, pick up styling cues from the Ciel and other concepts, as evident in the front end of the new CTS that features headlamps units that extend back along the ridge of the front fenders.

 

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Cadillac Cancels Halo Sedan, Omega Platform Forges Ahead http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/cadillac-cancels-halo-sedan-omega-platform-forges-ahead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/cadillac-cancels-halo-sedan-omega-platform-forges-ahead/#comments Mon, 01 Jul 2013 15:17:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493889 IMG_9049

A bit of bittersweet news for the GM crowd: the General is hard at work on a new platform for large RWD cars, dubbed “Omega”, and a Cadillac variant of that car is well underway. But a potential flagship sedan, ala the Ciel concept car, won’t make it.

Automotive News reports that the largest Cadillac was considered too expensive and too close to the Omega vehicle, which will compete with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and other large luxury sedans. Styling cues from the Ciel will reportedly make it into the Omega sedan, and Cadillac is said to be looking at more niche vehicles as well.

Without knowing any of the internal factors that went into this decision, it’s disappointing to hear the news. Furthermore, one would think that a truly distinct vehicle like a four-door convertible would be a huge hit with the subset one percenters who must have the latest, greatest and flashiest ride. There would be nothing else like it on the road.

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Review: 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-lexus-ls-460-f-sport-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-lexus-ls-460-f-sport-video/#comments Mon, 08 Apr 2013 15:30:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480822 While BMW has been turning the 7-Series into a luxuriously silent highway cruiser, Lexus has been busy injecting sport into their isolated lineup. In 2006 we got the 417HP IS-F, in 2011 came the insane LF-A super car, and in 2012 we were introduced to Lexus’ styling and suspension tweak brand F-Sport with the GS350 F-Sport. It was only a matter of time until the spindle grille and the looks-fast F package appeared on Lexus’s flagship LS. Can a “looks-fast” and “handles-better” package help the LS regain the sales crown? Or does Lexus need to go back to the drawing board for some go-fast love?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Lexus’s new styling direction has been somewhat controversial, which is probably a first for Lexus having subscribed to the “simple is elegant” mantra since 1989. While I wasn’t sure about the new “spindle” grille on the 2011 GS and I need to see the 2014 IS to figure out if I like it, the spindle on the LS suits me just fine. The problem in my mind is the proportions. The LS’ blunt nose, wide stance and long hood just work while the shorter snout and more pronounced spindle on the IS seem a bit too “try hard” to me at the moment. In addition to the blacked out grill you see above, F-Sport models get a lowered stance, Brembo brakes, revised suspension tuning and unique wheels. The cost for the added kit? $12,080 over the base LS 460′s starting price of $71,990. Out the door at $84,965 the LS 460 F-Sport undercuts a similarly equipped BMW 740i M-Sport by nearly $2,000. Mercedes? The 295HP V6 S400 starts at $92,350. If you thought the LS sells on reliability and value, you’re right.

Interior

Most manufacturers spend the cash on the outside of the “sport” model leaving less of the budget for interior tweaks and so it is with the F-Sport. We get some tweaked seats, aluminum pedals, a black Alcantara headliner and Lexus’ hallmark wood trim has been swapped for aluminum. The rest of the standard LS’ split-level dash remains, dominated by a large 12.3-inch LCD. Befitting a vehicle this expensive, the interior in our tester screamed “attention to detail” with perfect seams, high quality materials and perfect color matching.

That price tag is important to keep in mind. While the LS F-Sport ranges from $84,965 to $88,115, even the “lowly” 740i can be optioned up to $111,295 if you’re not careful. As a result you won’t find some of the expensive options on the BMW like a full-leather dashboard, heads-up display, night vision, or fancy ceramic knobs. Of course, few 7-Series shoppers check those option boxes and the more you add the more there is to go wrong. Lexus’ mantra has long been to keep things as simple as possible by offering high levels of standard equipment, bundling options in packages and steering clear of any gadget or gizmo that could go wrong within a warranty period. Few BMW shoppers load their 7-series to the gills anyway, so 90% of shoppers will find all they seek in the F-Sport’s black-only interior.

 

The F-Sport’s 16-way power driver’s seat and 12-way passenger’s seat have beefed-up bolstering and embossed logos on the headrests.  While I found the seats to be very comfortable for my 6-foot frame, the GS’ 18-way seats offer a wider range of motion and customization. Thanks to the thicker bolstering on the seat back and bottom the F-Sport will hold you in your seat should you decide to drift on your way to the financial district. All F-Sport models come with an F-Sport specific steering wheel based heavily on the standard LS tiller. An electric tilt/telescoping steering column with memory is standard.

Lexus’s flagship sedan is as much about the rear occupants as the front. To that end the F-Sport still has a three-position rear throne with outboard “buckets” and a high-mounted center seat. Thanks to the typical RWD “hump” and the bucket-like design of the outboard seats, the center spot should be left to homunculi. Ditching that 5th person will make the rear more comfortable anyway and four full-sized American adults will have no headroom or legroom issues in even the short wheelbase LS. Befitting the “adult” tastes the LS is designed to appeal to, the rear seat cushions aren’t sitting on the floor providing more thigh support than your average sedan. As you would expect with any vehicle this size, the LS sports a large 18 cubic foot trunk.

Infotainment & Gadgets

Widescreen infotainment systems are all the rage and 2013 the LS up to date with a large 12-inch LCD in the dash. Positioned in its own “pod”, the screen is higher and closer to the normal sight lines of a driver than before. The system ditches the intuitive touchscreen interface Lexus has used for the better part of a decade for the Lexus joystick (it’s officially called Lexus Remote Touch.) I won’t beat around the bush, I hate it. I am however open to suggestion, so please post your thoughts and experiences with Remote Touch in the comment section below.

My issues with LRT are: it occupies a great deal of room on the center console,and it takes far more hand-eye-brain coordination than a touchscreen. Every time I am in a Lexus I find myself glancing at the screen and fiddling with the little control pad far more than when I’m in a competitor’s luxury sedan. This increased distraction hasn’t gone unnoticed by my better half who constantly nags me about keeping my eyes on the road. Want to enter an address using the on-screen QWERTY keyboard? It’s obvious why Lexus won’t let you do that in motion.

To soften the blow Lexus throws in the same media device voice command interface as the other Lexus and premium Toyota products receive. The system is snappy, managed to figure out every command I threw at and has a more natural sounding voice than MyLincoln Touch. Helping counter the nagging Lexus Remote Touch caused (see how that’s not my fault now), the available Mark Levinson sound system can drown out even the most shrill mother-in-laws.

Perhaps reinforcing that Lexus focuses on the “meat” of the luxury segment and not the one-percent, you won’t find the same level of gee-wizardry in the F-Sport as some of the Euro competitors. You won’t find night vision, a full-leather dashboard, expensive ceramic knobs, massaging front seats, heads-up displays or full-LCD instrument clusters in the Lexus showroom. Instead, Lexus doubles down on perfect seams, quiet cabins, a high level of standard equipment and quantities of wood that would make Jaguar blush. New for 2013 is an optional collision prevention system that augments the collision warning system from last year’s model with the ability to fully stop the car while traveling at low speeds to prevent an accident. Much like the system Volvo has been stuffing in their cars since 2009, the system is active from about 5-24 MPH. Lexus has also tweaked their radar-based dynamic cruise control to now take the LS to a complete stop and take off again in stop-and-go traffic.

Drivetrain

The naturally aspirated luxury car V8 is an endangered species now that BMW, Audi and Mercedes are embracing turbo love. Lexus is the lone holdout using the same 4.6L naturally aspirated V8 engine the LS 460 debuted with in 2006.The direct-injection mill produces 386 ponies at 6,400 RPM (dropping to 360 in the AWD model) and 367lb-ft of twist at 4,100. Power delivery is typical of a medium-displacement DOHC V8; there is enough grunt at the low end to chirp the wheels, torque builds in a linear fashion and most of the “go” happens near red-line. The observant will note the F-Sport is down on power when pitted against the latest in German twin-turbo V8s putting the F-sport at a serious disadvantage when stoplight racing. In terms of power, the LS 460 compares most directly to the 740i with BMW’s turbocharged six-cylinder engine. On the bright side, the F-Sport’s engine is incredibly smooth and has one of the best engine sounds on this segment (you can thank the turbos for messing up the German symphony.) Why didn’t Lexus drop the 5.0L V8 from the IS-F into the F-Sport? The world may never now.

For F-Sport duty the LS gets a few software tweaks and performance-themed upgrades. The 8-speed automatic has been reprogrammed to rev-match downshifts, there are some snazzy shift paddles on the steering wheel, and there’s a Torsen limited slip differential out back. F-Sport tuning adds variable gear ratio steering to the electro-mechanical power steering unit and an additional “Sport+”  driving mode for the engine, transmission, steering and suspension systems

Drive

The naturally aspirated V8 defines the way the F-Sport at the dragstrip. Because the engine needs to rev to 4,100 RPM for torque to peak, it lacks the immediacy and urgency you feel from the twin-turbo Merc and Bimmer. The 8-speed automatic uses closely spaced low gears to help improve off-the-line performance allowing the F-Sport to hit 60 in 5.47 seconds. That’s a hair slower than the BMW 740i and half a second slower than the 750 or S550. However, if a great soundtrack is more important to you than shove, consider that turbos interfere with classic V8 sounds due to their location in the intake and exhaust plumbing. Further boosting the high-revving V8 howl, Lexus dropped a sound tube into the intake to pipe more “V8″ into the cabin.

The mission of sport packages is primarily to improve looks, and secondarily improve handling. That makes Lexus’ decision to put an air-suspension in the F-Sport a bit unusual. You see, there are three basic types of adaptive suspension systems. The first uses a strut filled with a ferromagnetic fluid whose viscosity changed when electricity is applied (GM and Audi like that one). The second is a more typical gas-filled strut with an electronically controlled valve to alter damping characteristics (Volvo, Ford and Chrysler use this one). Last is the air-suspension. Unlike the other two, air systems don’t just alter the damping, they are also involved in maintaining (or altering) the ride height. This means they both damp and keep your car off the ground. By altering the pressure in the internal air bags, ride firmness and height can be adjusted. While air suspensions have a pedigree (everyone from Rolls Royce to Jaguar uses one) having a vehicle ride on four small “Aero Beds” leads to an unusual feel when the road starts to curve. I’m no stranger to this technology, my own Jaguar Super V8 uses a similar system, and it delivers a similar feel. There’s a reason  Jaguar ditched the system for their new breed of corner-clawing kitties.

Despite the F-Sport having a lowered ride height over the regular LS and the air suspension being tweaked for a firmer ride, the system is firm but floaty. Sort of like over-inflating that air mattress you pull out for overnight guests. (My Jaguar feels exactly the same and so does the Mercedes S-Class.) That doesn’t mean the F-Sport is a land barge, it just means the feeling is unusual. Feelings aside, the F-Sport handles extremely well thanks to grippy low-profile rubber and Lexus’ variable gear ratio steering system.

VGRS (as Lexus calls it) has a more natural and direct feel than BMW’s active steering system, especially on close-quarter mountain switchbacks where you’re sea-sawing the wheel as you alternate mashing the stop and go pedals. The system fools you into thinking the F-Sport is lighter and more balanced than the BMW when in reality they very similar. At 53:47 (front:rear), the F-Sport is a bit heavier in the nose than the near-prefect 50:50 BMW 740i (but not far off the heavier 750i), but the Lexus hides it well, only giving up the secret when you’ve hit the limit and the nose begins to plow. Compared to the heavier 750i or S550, the LS feels lighter on its feet. Surprised? You shouldn’t be, after all, BMW is the new Meercedes. While I would take the more neutral vehicle, I know a majority of real-world owners prefer a car that leans toward understeer. (Fear not, if your foot is mashing the go pedal, the F-Sport will get all kinds of tail-happy  on you.)

Out on the highway or driving through pot-holed downtown streets, the air suspension makes more sense because it soaks up pavement imperfections like a Cadillac Fleetwood, which is after all the raison d’être of the Lexus brand. While I think I would have demanded the engineers swap the airbags for some steel coils, I don’t think that would make the F-Sport sell any better. Without more shove, the F-Sport will never be direct competition for the new breed of German luxury sedan. Instead the F-Sport is quite simply the best looking Lexus to date and the most dynamic large sedan the Japanese have ever built.  Is that enough to regain the sales crown? Only time will tell, but the bold grille, F-Sport model and low sticker price sure can’t hurt.

 

Hit it

  • Well priced luxury car without a discount brand cachet.
  • Impeccable reliability reputation.
  • The F-Sport isn’t as demure as a modern 7-series but not as flashy as a Maserati, etc.

Quit it

  • The Lexus joystick device is my least favorite infotainment input device.
  • Fewer gadgets and gizmos are available compared to the BMW 7-Series and Audi A8.

 

 Lexus provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.215 Seconds

0-60: 5.47 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.09 Seconds @ 100.4 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: xx MPG over 585 Miles

2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Steering wheel in motion, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Joystick Controller, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Side 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, F-Sport Logo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, F-Sport Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, LED Headlamp Module, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Seat Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Engine, 4.6L V8, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Lexus Enform 12.3-inch LCD, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Lexus Enform 12.3-inch LCD, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Infotainment, Lexus Enform Screen, Picture Courtesy of Lexus 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Lexus Enform, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Infotainment, Lexus Enform Screen, Picture Courtesy of Lexus 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Lexus 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Lexus 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Lexus 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Front Grille Profile, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Side 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, F-Sport Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Exterior, Headlamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Memory Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Dashboard Clock, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Button Bank, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Drive Mode Selector, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Heated and Cooled Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Lexus Remote Touch, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Steering Wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Driver's Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, F=Sport Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Center Console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, 4.6L V8, 386HP, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, 4.6L V8, 386HP, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport, 4.6L V8, 386HP, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Review: 2013 Cadillac XTS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/review-2013-cadillac-xts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/review-2013-cadillac-xts/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463855

Once upon a time, being the “Cadillac of <insert a noun here>” meant something magical. The problem is: it’s been 60 years since Cadillac was “The Cadillac of cars.” While the phrase lingers inexplicably on, GM is continues to play off-again/on-again with a flagship vehicle for the brand. The latest example is the all-new XTS. Instead of being “the Cadillac of flagships,” the XTS is a place holder until a full-lux Caddy hits. Whenever that may be. In the mean time, Detroit needed to replace the aging STS and the ancient DTS with something, and so it was that the XTS was born of the Buick LaCrosse and Chevy Malibu.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Engineers might have tried stretching the STS, or re-skinning the DTS yet again, but cash was in short supply so Caddy found their platform further down the food chain. Engineers took the Epsilon II platform (shared with everything from the Opel Insignia to the Roewe 950), stretched it to 202-inches long and hey-presto, the XTS was born. Unfortunately Cadillac wasn’t allowed to change the platform hard points, so the same 111.7-inch wheelbase and 62-inch track as the rest of the Epsilon rabble remains. With the wheelbase staying the same, the cabin had to be pushed as far to the wheels as possible to maximize interior space. For some gangsta feel, the belt-line was kept high, and for practical reasons the cabin was extended over the trunk to create a coupe-like profile and more rear headroom. Just for kicks the XTS’s narrow nose was raked to create a “cowcatcheresque” profile. The result is a sedan with awkward proportions, especially when parked next to the CTS, ATS, STS or DTS. (Wow that’s a whole bunch of TSs.)

Of course, style seems to be a problem for American luxury brands lately. Lincoln’s new nose took the recently refreshed MKS from country-farm-girl to tragic-farming-accident and while Chrysler doesn’t pretend to play in this segment, the new 300 is less attractive than its predecessor. (The 300 is unquestionably the most attractive and commanding sedan in this trio however.) What redeems the XTS? It still has plenty of bling and the fin is back. I must admit, I have the fin-love that dare not speak its name. Honestly.

Interior

The problem with an awkward exterior is that first impressions matter. Pity. The XTS has GM’s best interior ever. Aside from the bugaboo of a plastic airbag cover (an ailment many luxury brands suffer from), every  touch point is near perfection. From the tasteful two-tone stitched dash to the microfiber headliner, the XTS’s materials would pass an Audi taste test. Compared to the MKS, the Cadillac is more attractive and assembled with more precision. Compared to the Chrysler 300′s new luxury level interior, the Caddy is the place to be even though the 300′s leather dash is sublime. Unfortunately every silver lining has a cloud, and so it is with the XTS. There was a pleather dash part that was strangely crinkled and the glove box would routinely fall open beyond its stops and crash completely to the floor. (Check out the video for that.)

Thanks to the XTS’s odd profile, rear seat legroom measures out at 40-inches, 1.4 ahead of the MKS while also providing 46-inches of legroom up front (four more than MKS.) In addition, the XTS provides more head room in the rear and much nicer trappings. As proof that more traditional body shape provides more rear room, Chrysler’s 300 bests the XTS by 1/10th in rear legroom and rear headroom but in true-livery fashion leaves less space to the driver. Because the XTS is narrower than the competition, sitting three abreast in the rear is a “cozy” affair.

Infotainment

All XTS models get the new “Cadillac User Experience” or CUE system controlled by a gorgeous 8-inch LCD in the dash. Most navigation systems use a resistive touchscreen with a matte plastic surface that can easily scratch and causes images to look “fuzzy” at times. Cadillac stuck out their neck and used a more expensive capacitive touchscreen with a glass surface that is easy to clean and delivers graphics that are crisper than any system I have seen to date. What was Caddy’s muse? Think iPad.

Powering the LCD is software that gives MyLincoln Touch a run for its money. CUE supports “natural” voice commands to control the majority of system functions from iPod control to destination entry. Cadillac has gone USB crazy with three USB ports that all provide enough power to charge an iPad, something very few systems can do. CUE takes a novel approach to using multiple USB devices, the system indexes them together as if they were one music library so there’s no need to switch from one to the other to look for a song. CUE also sports the best iOS device integration available, for more information, check out the video at the top of the review.

Base XTS models come with an 8-speaker Bose system while upper trim levels of the XTS get a 14 speaker surround system with speakers integrated into the front seat backs. The 8 speaker system is well-balanced but seemed unable to handle moderate volume levels without some distortion. Thankfully the 14 speaker system proved an excellent companion and competes well with the up-level systems from the Germans.

As you would expect with a first generation system, I encountered a few hiccups. Despite the screen being large and high-resolution, CUS uses fairly “chunky” maps that lack detail and aren’t as attractive as iDrive. In addition, the “soft” menu buttons around the map cut the window down to a narrow slot making it difficult to use CUE as a map when navigating around downtown. The ability to “multi-touch” gesture on the screen for zooming sounds cool, but the response time is slow and the process proved more aggravating than useful. Lastly, much like Ford’s Touch system, CUE crashed frequently (four times in a week). While the crashing is a concern, my statement about Ford’s system applies equally to CUE: I can handle occasional crashing as long as the rest of the system is snazzy and does everything I want my car to do. Still, let’s hope Cadillac has a software update pronto.

 

Gadgets

The XTS is a conflicted vehicle. For every awkward exterior angle, there is a tasteful dash seam. For every complaint I have about CUE, there is a 12.3-inch LCD “disco dash” that stole my geeky heart. Sure, the cost of LCD-admission is the $54,505 XTS Premium, but this is the best LCD instrumentation ever. Yes, Jaguar/Land Rover/Mercedes have been toying with large LCDs for a while and even Dodge has a moderately configurable screen in the Dart, but the XTS makes use of the LCD. Huh? In JLR products, the LCD has one “look” (imitating traditional dials) and if you don’t like it that’s just tough. Cadillac gives you four layouts that range from traditional gauges to a modern digital theme and allows sections of the display to be further customized.

In addition to the LCD gauges, the XTS offers available pre-collision warning, lane departure warning, cross traffic detection, blind spot monitoring, heads-up display, adaptive cruise control and a system that will automatically stop you if you try to back over Jimmy on his skateboard. Most of these systems communicate with you through your backside via a seat that vibrates the cheek corresponding to the side of the vehicle that is in danger. Sound strange? It was, yet I found myself changing lanes sans signals so the “Magic Fingers” would feel me up.

Powertrain

Under the stubby hood you’ll find one engine: GM’s 3.6L direct-injection V6. Instead of the 321HP/275lb-ft tune the baby Caddy uses, this mill produces a more sedate 304HP at 6,800RPM and 264lb-ft at 5,200RPM (400RPM higher than the ATS’s peak). While there are rumors of a twin-turbo V6, I will believe it when I see it. Until then, all the power is sent to the front wheels via the GM/Ford 6-speed transaxle, or to all four wheels if you opt for a $2,225 Haldex AWD system.

Our AWD tester hit 60MPH in 6.1 seconds so it’s hard to call the XTS slow, but neither is it fast. The problem is the 260lb-ft versus a 4,200lb curb weight. While the base MKS (3.7L V6) is slower at 6.5 seconds, Lincoln’s twin-turbo bruiser gets the job done in 5.1. The 300 hit 60 in 6.3 thanks to its greater mass, but the 300′s 8-speed transmission allowed it to tie the XTS for a 14.9 Second 1/4 mile at 93 MPH.

Drive

My week with the XTS started with a journey to sample the 2013 Chevy Malibu turbo. The event made me wish GM’s new 2.0L turbo had been jammed into the XTS. Why? Because the Malibu hit 60 in 6.2 thanks to 260lb-ft plateau from 1,500-5,800RPM and delivered 24.7MPG in mixed driving. Our AWD XTS eeked out 18.9MPG in a highway-heavy cycle and FWD XTS shoppers should only expect one more MPG.

Acceleration quibbles aside, the XTS’s road manners are impeccable. The XTS proved a faithful companion on Northern California mountain highways thanks to the AWD system, GM’s “HiPer Strut” suspension design and Magnaride electronically controlled dampers. The oddly named suspension design moves the steering axis to a more vertical orientation closer to the center of the tire, reduces the scrub radius and helps keep the contact patch more consistent. Whatever the name, the system just works. The benefit is most obvious in the FWD XTS where it quells the torque steer demon but it also pays dividends in the AWD model by keeping the wheel more vertical thereby improving grip. While I wouldn’t call the overall dynamic “sporty,” the XTS is confident and predictable. Of course the 300′s rear-wheel setup makes it more fun and the MKS exhibited less body roll, but the XTS’s well sorted suspension and Magnaride system make it an excellent all-around performer.

I left my week with the XTS more confused than when we met and I’m no closer to understanding who the XTS is for. The Chrysler 300 makes a better performance vehicle with the 5.7L V8 and a better livery vehicle due to the rear seat dimensions. Lincoln’s twin-turbo V6 is insane and addictive in its own way, and Lincoln will (optionally) toss in quantities of real-wood that would make Jaguar blush. BMW, Audi and Mercedes have better brand names, more polished interiors and a complete line of engines that range from normal to 400+ horsepower. The XTS on the other hand is a confident-handling technological four de force dressed in a corduroy leisure suit. With leather elbow patches. And a fedora.

 

Cadillac provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of fuel for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.48 Seconds

0-60: 6.1 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.9 Seconds @ 93 MPH

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Review: 2013 Volkswagen CC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/review-2013-volkswagen-cc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/review-2013-volkswagen-cc/#comments Thu, 16 Aug 2012 18:33:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=455642

There was a time when “Passat” was German for “budget-Audi.” Even though the A4 and Passat parted ways in 2005, the Passat’s interior and price tag were more premium than mid-market shoppers were looking for. To hit VW’s North American yearly sales goal of 800,o000, the European Passat (B6) was replaced with a model designed specifically for American tastes. This means a lower price tag, less “premium” interior, and larger dimensions. If your heart pines for a “real” Passat, look no further than the 2013 Volkswagen CC. If it looks familiar, it should. The CC is none other than the artist car formerly known as Prince Passat CC with a nose job. VW advertises the CC as “the most affordable four-door coupé” in the US. All you need to know is: Euro lovers, this is your Passat.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The CC follows the four-door coupé formula pioneered by Mercedes: lower the roof, remove the window sashes and raise the price. Even though “coupé” means two doors and the CC has a pair too many, the silhouette is undeniably elegant. For 2013 the CC’s front was replaced with a more aggressive three-bar chrome schnoz and standard HID headlamps. Out back are new tail lamps that incorporate “CC” shapes into the LED clusters. Unlike many mid-cycle refreshes, the rhinoplasty actually jives with the rest of the car.

Our European cousins see the CC as a styling exercise between the Passat and the Phaeton in both price and size. However, the Phaeton is extinct in America turning the CC into VW flagship sedan on our shores. This presents a problem that doesn’t exist in Europe: our Passat is larger, and being sold to an audience that equates size with status. As a result you wouldn’t automatically assume the CC is $10,000 more expensive, (especially if you equate size with value) until you get inside.

Interior

Camcord clientèle value expansive, not expensive cabins.  The CC on the other hand plays further up the food chain. In this light, the CC’s “Euro Passat” squishy dash bits are right at home. Our base-model tester had leatherette seats, faux-aluminum trim and a black-on-black-on-black color scheme. A quick trip to the local dealer proved the no-cost ivory/black and ivory/brown combinations look 10 times better in person than the all-black theme.  If you’ve been frightened away by the pleather on less expensive VWs, the CC’s faux-cow is a different “animal” and was surprisingly convincing.

Because VW is on a mission to streamline their inventory, your interior “goodie quotient” is tied to your trim level and engine choice. This means there are but five different configurations (excluding interior and exterior color choices): Sport, Sport Plus, Lux, V6 Lux and VR6 Executive. (No, that’s not a typo it is “V6″ and “VR6″ for some reason.) The $30,610 Sport model starts with dual-zone climate control and standard 12-way power seats. Sport Plus ($32,850) adds a nav system, DSG transmission and some 18-inch wheels, Lux ($35,335) piles on a sunroof, ambient lighting and real aluminum trim. Jumping up to the V6 Lux($37,730) gets the shopper real-cow, a backup cam, memory seats and a bigger nav screen. The top-of-the-line VR6 Executive ($41,420) tacks on AWD, parking sensors, a power rear sunshade and front seats that heat, cool and massage. With the CC there are no options per se, just dealer sold accessories.

The front thrones are comfortable for long trips and were easily adjusted for my average frame but with the sexy roof-line comes limited headroom. If you’re a taller passenger and prefer your seats and tray tables in the upright and locked position, you may need to look elsewhere. The rear seats present more of a headroom challenge coupled with ingress and egress limited by the sloped door openings. While a center rear seat is now standard, (bringing the capacity up to 5) it was apparently designed for Lilliputians as I was unable to sit in it without cocking my head to the side.

Infotainment

VW’s infotainment systems have been behind the curve for the near luxury market and the CC is no exception. The standard five-inch touchscreen system is a basic unit with a CD player, AM/FM/HD/Sirius radio and iDevice integration. Strangely absent from all models is a USB plug for non-Apple devices. Bluetooth audio streaming (and speakerphone) is standard and works very well however. As with most entries in this segment, you cannot voice-command your iDevice, if you want that, look to Lincoln’s SYNC. If you want snazzy graphics, look to BMW.

Sport Plus and Lux models get VW’s low-end navigation system which uses the same 5-inch LCD as the base model. The screen is low resolution and the processor is slow, but it gets the job done. Eventually. How low is the resolution? 400 x 200 pixels, or about the same as a cheap computer from 1981.

Six-cylinder CC models come standard with VW’s snappier (and snazzier) 6.5-inch navigation system. In addition to improved navigation features, this unit adds 25GB of music storage. Stepping up to the “Executive” CC buys you a color LCD between the speedo and tach, and a 600-watt, 10-speaker Dynaudio system. Sound quality on the base speakers is very good for this segment and the Dynaudio system is excellent with well-balanced audio and volume levels loud enough to satisfy most customers.

Drivetrain

Not being related to the US Passat has advantages, the 2.5L inline-5 was left in Chattanooga. Instead, the CC uses VW’s 200HP/207lb-ft 2.0L turbo four cylinder, an improvement of 30HP and 30lb-ft over the 2.5L. While a 15% power bump may not sound like much, the 2.0L’s flat torque curve and choice of 6-speed manual or 6-speed DSG (instead of the Passat’s slushbox) allow the CC to scoot to 60 a whopping 2.7 seconds faster (6.2 vs 8.9). Over 625 miles with the manual CC, we averaged 28.6 MPG despite the EPA ratings of 21 city / 31 highway. We were unable to test a CC with the DSG for any length of time but the EPA claims it will drop your numbers to 19/29 MPG.

As you would assume, the V6 Lux and VR6 4MOTION Executive CCs get VW’s 3.6L VR6 engine. If you’re not familiar with VW’s VR engines, they are a hybrid crossing a traditional “V” engine with a single head like an inline engine. The result is an engine that’s longer than a V6 but shorter than an I6 and uses only two cams total. This 10.6-degree “V” engine is good for 280HP and 265lb-ft of torque. For reasons only VW can explain, the only transmission is an Aisin 6-speed aut0 with or without a Haldex based all-wheel-drive system.

The extra 80HP and 58lb-ft of twist come at the expense of 261lbs in extra mass, all of which is in the nose. Adding AWD increases the weight penalty by another 226lbs so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the AWD CC is not much faster to 60 than the 2.0T. As you would assume, fuel economy drops to 18/27 MPG for the FWD VR6 and 17/25 MPG for the AWD VR6.

Drive

The CC’s electric power steering, VW’s typical rubbery shifter feel and soft springs combine to make the CC feel like a large, comfy highway cruiser. On the other hand, the 235-width rubber, light 3,400lb curb weight and German DNA do an admirable job of making the CC 2.0T stable and surprisingly grippy in the bends. If you care more about feel than outright power, the 2.0T is an excellent package due as much to the lighter front end as the well-matched ratios in the manual transmission. Start sea-sawing the wheel and the soft suspension if obvious, but in normal to moderately aggressive driving, the 2.0T will make you grin more often than the VR6

Compared to the Buick GS, the turbo CC is noticeably down on power but feels far more refined without loosing much in the “balls-out handling” category. The VR6 FWD CC on the other hand feels far more likely to plow into the underbrush when it encounters a corner thanks to that extra weight up front. The experience is the same in a V6 Avalon or MKZ. While you can opt for 4MOTION to tame some of the  FWD handling tendencies, it adds even more weight without any increase in the car’s contact patches. Many CC shoppers will be former Passat owners or shoppers brought in by the Passat’s lower starting price and increased showroom traffic. These shoppers will find a car that feels practically glued to the road compared to the Passat sitting next to it, despite the strong family resemblance.

Our Facebook fans wanted to know how the CC stacks up against the Audi A7. Since I can’t imagine too many shoppers actually cross-shopping these two I will keep this short. The CC’s main selling point is the $20,000 lower cost of entry. Yes the A7 has more oomph from a supercharged V6, two extra speeds in its gearbox, a longer warranty and a snazzier interior. The A7′s hatchback design was very handy for carrying large cargo last time we had it, but aside from the trunk the A7 is honestly no more comfortable inside than the CC.

The Passat CC used to make me scratch my head. Why would I want a Passat with less room, fewer seats and a steeper price tag? There just didn’t seem to be a good reason. By taking the America Passat in a different direction, VW seems to have solved both the Passat’s sales problem and give the CC a reason to exist.

 

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VW provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.3 Seconds

0-60: 6.2 Seconds

1/4 Mile:  14.9 Seconds @ 94 MPH

Average fuel economy: 28.6 over 625 miles

 

2012 Volkswagen CC, Exterior, rear, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Exterior, rear, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Exterior, 3/4 view, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Exterior, 3/4 view, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Exterior, 3/4 view, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Exterior, 3/4 view, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Exterior, 3/4 view, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Exterior, wheel, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, gauges, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, tachometer, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, steering wheel, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, steering wheel, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, steering wheel, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, shifter, 2.0T, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, shifter, 2.0T, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, rear seats, 2.0T, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, rear seats, 2.0T, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Interior, rear seats, 2.0T, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Engine, 2.0T, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Engine, 2.0T, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Volkswagen CC, Engine, 2.0T, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Cadillac Ciel Concept: A Vision Of GM’s Flagship Future http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/cadillac-ciel-concept-a-vision-of-gms-flagship-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/cadillac-ciel-concept-a-vision-of-gms-flagship-future/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2011 07:28:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407986

Phew! Can you say “American Rolls-Royce Drophead?” In sharp contrast to its last concept, the awkward subcompact Urban Luxury Concept, the Ciel is pure old-school Caddy. A huge car with huge presence. Of course, this exact car will never go into production, but it’s good to see more flowing lines, subtle surfaces and classical elements working their way into Caddy’s sharp-edged, stealth fighter design language. After all, the cartoonishly vertical headlamps indicate just how close the pure “Art & Science” approach is coming to an evolutionary dead-end. In any case, with rumors circulating of a “true flagship” going into production around 2015, the Ciel is sure to rile up the Cadillac faithful. [Press release here]
2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept 2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept

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GM Approves Cadillac XTS For Production, Lincoln MKS/Taurus SHO Benchmarked? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/gm-approves-cadillac-xts-for-production-taurus-sho-benchmarked/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/gm-approves-cadillac-xts-for-production-taurus-sho-benchmarked/#comments Wed, 24 Mar 2010 15:53:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=350172

Motor Trend reports that Cadillac’s long search for a flagship is over. After debating a number of options, including importing a stretched Chinese-market STS, GM has decided that the “Super Epsilon”-based XTS will be the future range-topper for its luxury brand. The XTS was developed on a stretched version of the platform that underpins GM sedans including the Buick LaCrosse, Chevy Malibu and the forthcoming Buick Regal, and was shown in concept form as the XTS Platinum concept at the Detroit Auto Show. That concept was shown with a theoretical plug-in drivetrain made up of Cadillac’s 3.6 liter DI V6 and the plug-in components from the canceled Vue plug-in, and according to MT, the recent cancellation of the Converj plug-in means “there’s profit and green image to be had in the plug-in XTS.” Until that technology is production-ready, choosing the XTS’s engine options will be an interesting challenge.

Should Cadillac offer the XTS with the stock 3.6 V6? It’s the only engine option that’s ready to go out of the box, but it would also mean the XTS “flagship” will be motivated by the same engine that’s available in the aging CTS. As if the XTS’s CamCord-killer underpinnings weren’t enough of a luxury liability. And it seems that this liability is already being considered. According to MT:

to compete with large German sedans like the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 in this category and establish the right image, Cadillac may have to shoehorn a small-block V-8 transversely under the hood.

But because GM’s execs know best, they’ll probably push Cadillac, kicking and screaming, out of the V8 era. As MT puts it:
Cadillac could become a bold leader in engine downsizing and offer the XTS only with V-6s.
Alternatively, Cadillac could admit that it cheaped out by putting the XTS on a gussied-up version of a pedestrian mid-sized platform, and that no engine choice will ever make the XTS the kind of brand-building flagship the brand desperately needs. But hey, Hyundai gets journo-props for downsizing to 4-cylinders only for its new Sonata [check out a great interview covering this issue and others with Hyundai USA boss John Krafcik here], why shouldn’t Cadillac play the same game? You know, besides the fact that Hyundai has nothing to lose image-wise, while by virtue of its heritage, Cadillac should arguably be one of the last brands in the world to give up on V8 flagships.
Still, with CAFE ramp-ups looming, the chances of Cadillac offering a V8 aren’t good. And not just because GM is taking inspiration from Hyundai’s bold downsizing strategy. The General has taken notice of the good press garnered by Ford’s EcoBoost, and they’re out to build one of their own, with the XTS in mind. GMInsideNews.com reports:

According to GM engineering sources, GM is currently working on a twin-turbo 3.0L V6. Development on the new engine is so far along that it has a RPO code of “LF3.” The naturally aspirated 3.0L debuted in several 2010 products with direct injection and has the code “LF1.”

GMI was not able to obtain projected power ratings on the new engine, however output is very application specific under new SAE testing rules. Sources did say to expect the engine to rival Ford’s EcoBoost 3.5L.

The engine’s introduction is expected in late 2011 or early 2012 in the Cadillac XTS. Sources also state that GM is looking to use the engine in the Cadillac ATS and possibly even the next Chevrolet Camaro. Cadillac has historically always debuted new variants of the High-Feature V6 lineup, so it comes as no surprise that the XTS is the likely to pioneer the 3.0L twin-turbo.

Of course, this raises some interesting powertrain strategy questions. The 3.0 clearly lacks the torque needed to lug around larger (er, heavier, anyway) vehicles, but it also gets the same fuel economy numbers as the 3.6. Turbocharging will help with one of those problems, but not necessarily the other. Meanwhile, what happens to the 2.8 turbo V6 (LP9) currently found in the Cadillac SRX? Or, for that matter, GM’s in-house experiments turbocharging the 3.6, which it claimed could make 425 HP in a 2009 SEMA Jay Leno Camaro concept?

Any way you cut it, GM is worrying about the color of lipstick to put on a pig. If the XTS debuted as a plug-in only model, it might offer some brand-halo benefits, but the pricetag would likely keep sales to niche levels at best. On the other end of the scale of options, if GM offers a base model with the stock 3.6 or a shoe-horned small-block V8, it might sell decently to old-school Cadillac buyers and luxury value-hunters, but it would do nothing to take the brand in the upscale direction GM wants it to go. But then that ship probably sailed when GM decided to base its luxury flagship on a beefed-up Buick platform. Which leaves little choice but the derivative middle ground, and developing a new EcoBoost-alike engine.

And where does that leave the XTS? Assuming GM can match the Taurus SHO’s 365 hp EcoBoost output (which isn’t guaranteed), the XTS offers .6 inches of length over the SHO (203.5 inches for XTS Platinum Concept compared to 202.9 for the SHO), but with an inch shorter wheelbase (111.7 inches vs. 112.9 inches). And at 74.8 inches, the XTS will be 1.4 inches narrower than the SHO. In other words, Cadillac’s range-topping flagship will be competing primarily with a $38k Ford (not to mention its Lincoln clone). The Taurus SHO ain’t a bad car, in fact it was almost too luxury-oriented for our “mad” Jack Baruth. But is it the benchmark for a world-class luxury brand flagship? Hardly.

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Cadillac XTS: The Phantom Flagship http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/cadillac-xts-the-phantom-flagship/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/cadillac-xts-the-phantom-flagship/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2010 15:46:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=341529 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

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?

2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum ConceptThe 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. 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

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. 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept 2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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