It’s been decades since Cadillac produced the “Cadillac” of anything. However, when car buffs dismiss the only American luxury brand left, they fail to see Cadillac’s march forward. 2002 brought the first RWD Cadillac since the Fleetwoood. A year later the XLR roadster hit, followed in 2004 by Cadillac’s first 5-Series fighter, the STS. Not everything was rosy. The original CTS drove like a BMW but lacked charm and luxury fittings. The XLR was based on a Corvette, which made for excellent road manners, but the Northstar engine didn’t have the oomph. The STS sounded like a good idea, but the half-step CTS wasn’t much smaller and ultimately shoppers weren’t interested in a bargain option. That brings us to the new ATS and CTS. Ditching the “more car for less money” mantra, the ATS has been created to fight the C/3/IS leaving the CTS free to battle the E/5/GS head-on. Can Caddy’s sensible new strategy deliver the one-two punch fans have hoped for? I snagged a CTS 2.0T for a week to find out.
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.
While snapping shots of the new Chevrolet SS at the end of the show on Thursday, TTAC’s NYIAS crew was approached by General Motors vice president Mark Reuss. “You guys are always trying to make GM look bad,” he growled, his two personal assistants standing behind him and positively radiating menace, “but I’m going to show you that you can’t stop the largest car company in the world from making great product for great customers. Come with me.”
We didn’t have much choice, but after being given an industry exclusive on the biggest product reveal to not make news at the show, we’re glad we followed him down that dark corridor.
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.
“Two questions.” Our European contributor, Mirko Reinhardt, wants to test my knowledge. “First question: Last month was a pretty big month for Cadillac in Germany, relatively speaking. How many Cadillacs did GM sell? And second question: Which model sold best?”
Throughout its history, Cadillac has fed the press some glorious concept cars dripping with opulence, snazzy features and WTF styling. This works when production cars live up to the concept’s hype, but a history of histrionics is less helpful when you’re launching a car that somehow defies hype altogether [Ed: see AutoWeek's headline: "Cadillac aims its flagship XTS at imports and traditional buyers"]. Don’t get it wrong, the XTS is not intended as a true flagship for the brand (GM’s release calls it “the newest addition to the lineup” and “the most technologically advanced production car in the brand’s history”), but at the launch at the LA Auto Show the XTS’s FWD proportions, slab sides and generally predictable exterior dominated the first impressions. Put simply, the midsized sedan exudes none of the presence that makes the CTS-V coupe exciting, possibly due to the fact that it has what may be Cadillac’s shortest hood ever. No wonder GM CEO Dan Akerson warned us that the XTS “wouldn’t blow the doors off” the competition.
Jalopnik says it managed to snag this image of the production Cadillac XTS from the Cadillac website earlier today before anyone at GM’s luxury brand realized it had been inadvertently posted. The funny thing is, this could just as easily be an image of the XTS Platinum Concept, which first introduced us to the idea of a Epsilon II-based DTS/STS replacement… this purported production model looks exactly like the concept. Then again, it also looks exactly like you’d imagine a rebodied-for-Cadillac Buick LaCrosse would look… which is basically what this is. And since we know what the XTS’s interior will look like, this ends a lot of the suspense about the first all-new Caddy since the SRX. Well, except for the “how it drives” and “how it sells” parts…
Though we haven’t even seen a production version yet, Cadillac’s forthcoming XTS has already lived a full, controversy-laden life. Initially suggested as a replacement for the DTS/STS, the Cadillac faithful quickly recoiled at the idea of a luxury “flagship” based on a stretched version of the Epsilon II midsized platform that underpins the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu. But with the Cadillac Ciel Concept showing the way forward for a “true” Caddy flagship which will eventually become the brand’s standard-bearer, the XTS’s role has been somewhat redefined. Expectations for the XTS were walked back by GM CEO Dan Akerson, who famously said that it was
not going to blow the doors off, but will be very competitive
And this week the enigma that is the XTS only deepened, as Cadillac announced two bits of seemingly contradictory information about it: first, that it would spearhead a new high-tech interface (see video above) and second, that it would mark GM’s return to the livery car business.
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.
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?
Cadillac is showing off this teaser of its XTS concept, previewing the look of its forthcoming “flagship.” It’s edgy, it’s wedgy… too bad it’s almost certainly another Epsi-II variant in a GM lineup that hardly needs another. And while Cadillac keeps GM’s perpetual tease going, it’s come to our attention that the brand has become the carrier of a now-expired GM legacy, visible after the jump.