Cadillac's Angular Aesthetic Not Working So Well In China

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
cadillac s angular aesthetic not working so well in china

For a number of years, Cadillac has been carefully cultivating its angular look, with cars like the CTS and XLR setting the tone for the brand’s designs. In America, the “Art & Science” look was greeted with enthusiasm. But Chinese consumers aren’t so receptive to it, and that’s bad news for a brand that’s pinning its expansion hopes on China.

The distaste of Chinese consumers towards Cadillac designs is apparently rooted in Confucian notions related to aesthetics, which Reuters explains below

The preference for smoother, curvier cars stems from ‘Zhongyong,’ a Confucian concept that stresses harmony, according to Fu Liming, who teaches transportation design at Jilin University in northeast China.

“In cars, the Zhongyong concept translates into unified lines and curves,” Fu said. “Cadillac’s design isn’t soft, its angles and arcs aren’t smooth enough.”

While the SRX does well in a field where buyers seek out a distinctive design, cars like the CTS and the SLS (a Chinese market long-wheelbase sedan) are saddled with the dual burden of having the wrong design and thirsty engines. Apparently, pre-bailout GM didn’t have the resources or inclination to help Cadillac adapt to world markets, but things are set to change. First among them; a softening of the “harsh” angles currently employed by Cadillac.

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  • Ranwhenparked Ranwhenparked on Nov 06, 2012

    I thought Confucianism was officially banned by the Communists, since it advocates loyalty to the traditional Imperial system? Part of this could be that Cadillac is still essentially a new brand for the Chinese. Art & Science felt like a breath of fresh air for American customers, after we saw the marque hit such horrific lowpoints over the previous 2-3 decades, but for someone without that frame of reference to compare to, it might not look so good. The design language really seems to work better on some cars than others, the ATS and CTS are great, the XTS and SRX are seriously awkward. The China-only SLS seems to do an OK job of blending a few curves in with the angles, and the ATS actually looks like it's returning to those themes.

  • Bryce Bryce on Nov 06, 2012

    Awful looking POS but it took the Chinese to get it changed, these cars have been fugly from the off only eclipsed by licolns

  • Otaku Otaku on Nov 07, 2012

    Ugly Cadillacs finally referred to as ugly. News at eleven...

  • Kyree Kyree on Nov 07, 2012

    I'm glad to hear this. Cadillac was getting close to releasing a monstrosity like the Pontiac Aztek...

    • Geozinger Geozinger on Nov 07, 2012

      Few cars have had the owner satisfaction numbers the Aztek generated. It may have been ugly on the outside, but the folks who actually owned them, loved them. Hard to believe, I know.