By on March 19, 2018

It’s hard to fathom, given the industry’s (and the public’s) addiction to utilities, but a new report claims Cadillac aims to start production on a new flagship car in late 2021. Not just any car, either, but a model with a name taken from a high-profile concept vehicle: Escala.

You’ll remember the Escala as a trim, pillarless, four-door liftback with classic rear-drive proportions, introduced at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. At the time, Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen called the concept a “potential addition” to the brand’s product lineup, but with the CT6 just beginning to roll out of dealers — and in the wake of the earlier, futureless Ciel and Elmiraj concepts — few got their hopes up.

The report comes by way of Autoline Daily, sourcing its information from auto industry data provider AutoForecast Solutions.

A vehicle called the Escala will go into production at General Motors’ Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant in December of 2021, the source material claims, without specifying a bodystyle. Currently, the Hamtramck facility builds the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Impala, and Cadillac CT6 — when the lights are on, anyways. Falling sedan sales, especially those of full-size models, has led to lengthy periods of downtime.

The new vehicle, be it a large coupe (dare we dream), sedan, or something else, would borrow its architecture from the CT6.

Late 2021 isn’t far away in strategic terms, but given the rapid decline of the passenger car market, we have to wonder how many traditional two- and four-doors cars will still exist at that point. Cadillac’s currently fielding as many crossovers as it can to satisfy growing demand for utilities in the premium field. A compact XT4 joins the midsize XT5 for 2019. In the sedan realm, a duo of new models — the CT4 and CT5 — replaces the ATS, CTS, and XTS by the end of the decade.

If the Escala does come to fruition, expect a technology-packed model with some form of electrification built into its powertrain. Whether or not the brand goes ultra-lux/halo with this one remains to be seen.

Cadillac brand sales rose 14 percent in February, with volume up 5.3 percent over the first two months of 2018. Lending some doubt to the Escala report is the fact that U.S. CT6 sales haven’t touched the four-figure mark since June of last year, and growth over the past two months is just 2.6 percent above the same period last year. While that’s a better direction than the opposite, the segment’s overall trajectory points nowhere but down.

[Images: General Motors]

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60 Comments on “GM’s Pulling the Trigger on the Cadillac Escala, Report Claims...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    La Scala would have been a better name, Klipsch might still have the rights to that though. Maybe they’ll badge engineer a Buick Wildcat off it.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not a lawyer but I own a patent, trademarks and copyrights so I know a little bit about intellectual property.

      Klipsch’s trademark on La Scala only extends to loudspeakers and, perhaps, other audio equipment.

      The Gibson Firebird guitar was introduced in 1963. GM didn’t need Gibson’s permission to brand Pontiac’s version of the Camaro as the Firebird five years later. Likewise, when just ever so coincidentally Fender introduced a Mustang guitar in 1964, the same year Ford used that brand name on something you might have heard of, Fender didn’t need to get permission from Ford.

      Trademarks give broad protection but have to apply to specific classifications of products. Because the standard of infrigement has to do with likelihood of confusion, it’s hard to argue that someone is going to confuse a La Scala car with a La Scala loudspeaker.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    It will make sense as a replacement for CT6 when they reposition their sedan line up. CT6 is an excellent entry at entry price point but frequently gets compared to S-Class and 7 series and comes away as loser. So re positioning it against S-Class makes sense.

    More important for Cadillac is to get the XT7 right. If they do, it can be the most profitable model they will ever sell, beating Escalade in sales and overall profit. Now the Escalade also needs serious updating in the face of re-designed navigator.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I’m not sure why the CT6 exists. It’s damned to the realm of sub-flagships, along with the Continental, S90, RLX and Q70L. For the same money, you can have the Genesis G90, which appears to be immaculately crafted and occupies the same floaty soft-luxury segment that Lexus abandoned with the latest LS.

      The Escala, on the other hand…could be interesting and find its niche in the market. I’m just surprised Cadillac hasn’t leveraged the Omega architecture on some kind of seven-seat RWD-based crossover, since that’s where the money is. That would make an excellent XT-7.

      • 0 avatar
        01 Deville

        I think CT6 was typically GM half ass attempt at flagship Sedan, but with Johan taking over, he probably called a spade and spade and let his people know that the refinement won’t cut it against an S-Class and then priced it as a tweener.

        I think Johan wants a brand defining sedan but market is not allowing that. He reluctantly continues to market Escalade because it prints money, but I think he doesn’t like Escalade as brand defining product (which in reality it is in our times). Best way out would be to build this off CT6 platform investing more money in refinement than engineering- CT6 being a competent chasis).

        Best compromise would be a GLS fighting 3 row crossover based on CT6 platform with visual cues of Escalade but much higher refinement.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The CT6 was never meant to be Cadillac’s flagship “sedan” and at best, was meant to be alternative to the SWB flagships (but not a full-on S Class competitor).

          Doesn’t matter now as the CT6 will be repositioned to compete against the likes of the E Class and 5 Series.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        I for one welcome the Ct6, sure it has been under-equipped without a proper V8 so far, but it has to be there to reverse the years of misery of having FailWD DTS and then the XLS being the biggest sedan in the line up.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        CT6 is just the Seville. I suppose the grand strategery was instead of getting human passenger room in the CTS, you were going to be upcharged into this CT6, and the Alpha sedan was to exist simply as a first stepping stone to the now less comfortable more expensive CTS (which was making traction in gen 2). Idiots.

        The CT6 also was another place to experiment, er showcase, with new aluminum techniques in the platform. Cadillac is really good an trying stuff out on its customers which usually doesn’t work very well (at first or ever). Their attitude always was trade/lease another prole. Kinda like all the bas software these days, just update to v1567 and it will work. Oh still didn’t? Try v1568. Stability and value are foreign concepts.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “I’m not sure why the CT6 exists.”

        Because Lincoln Continental.

        “I don’t have to outrun the bear; I just have to outrun you.”

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        Kyree S Williams

        No one is buying the G90.

      • 0 avatar
        seanx37

        And comes with a V8

      • 0 avatar
        HeeeeyJake

        The CT6 exists because China:

        -accepts a 2.0 engine (for displacement-based tax reasons)
        -LWB model available there.
        -NVH and chassis sophistication is acceptable in China but is subpar for Euro/US flagship sedan expectation levels.

        That it sells 10k-ish units (I’m guessing) in the US is just a pleasant side effect.

  • avatar

    Well,

    A) I don’t think producing an A7 competitor in addition to the CT6 will generate many sales and;

    B) No way will it be pillarless, resulting in

    C) CT6 liftback marketed as Escala.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Great, another …sedan? for Cadillac that couldn’t hope to be an S-class fighter, and to boot it’s an A7 ripoff with anonymous horizontal lights. Cadillac should stick with vertical head and tail light housings as nobody else does it. The horizontal tips at the bottom of their tail lights on upcoming cars (refreshed XTS, new small SUV XTS4) are a weak and blobby finish to a strong shape.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Good for Cadillac. Let Lincoln “survive” – if you can call it that – making fancier Ford CUVs.

    And now I guess everyone can shut up about the alphanumeric naming convention.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Yes, much better for Cadillac to make cars journalists love that nobody buys, going out of business, wiping out jobs and stock value in the process……..

      When the market zigs, Cadillac zags, or doesn’t zig enough… every… effing… time.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Building a niche halo liftback on modular platform isn’t going to bankrupt Cadillac.

        They have plenty of 4-cylinder CUVs coming for the frothing masses, but no premium brand (save for maybe Lincoln) is totally abandoning cars.

        If anything going low volume, high price and niche is the best way to do a car in this market. Chasing volume with ATS II would be the worse move.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        They’ve been clowns for years and let the Germans and to an extent Japanese eat their market share. Things would have been much better if 1. 4100 never happened, or failing that 2. Northstar would have worked, but by 2000 the product mix wasn’t there anymore. That’s why you started to see goofy sh!t around that period, they were literally throwing darts at the wall. Couple this with the fact the overall company was a house of cards, we saw cheaply made oddball product (Opel copy Catera gen 1 and Holden/Opel Catera gen II, Sigma SRX, Cadillac Avalanche etc) as opposed to product which was fully baked and/or appropriate. Post bankruptcy, the marque seems to want to Make Cadillac Great Again but the product mix is as bad or worse than before. Maybe this Escala is a step in the right direction, maybe it is not. But the fundamental question to answer is, give the marque’s position in a multi brand lineup, does it go low volume high content or high volume low content? I expect the latter myself, and yet it must be careful not to steal business from Buick/Chevrolet. Truly a tough position to be in.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Paraphrasing Homer: No liftback! No new crap! Fleetwood, now!

  • avatar
    ajla

    There are plenty of places were GM can go wrong with this, but for now it is a large, RWD luxury car with an actual name so I’m not going to complain.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Will Mazda agree with GM selling this?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “While that’s a better direction than the opposite, the segment’s overall trajectory points nowhere but down.”

    Actually, producing a truly exceptional automobile after thirty five years of mostly garbage might actually help the brand. The trick is not to spend a billion dollars on something which is designed to be low volume high quality loss leader. Resale is a strange beast, depending on how it would be perceived it could actually be in demand by those with money and taste. I’ve argued for some time the marque must either go low volume/high content/high price, or high volume/low content/low price, none of this in the middle sh!t.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      This.

      And I think they’re damn close. The basic bones are there. Quality of construction is generally there (drive a used one if you don’t believe me). The driving dynamics are there. If the final product looks anything like the show car, the styling will be there. If they step up their game when it comes to the engine and interior, and sell it for a reasonable price, it’ll find a market.

      • 0 avatar
        dividebytube

        3.6L or 2.0T isn’t going to cut it for me (not that I could afford one of these).

        Maybe a 500 or 425CID. ::carried off to the funny farm::

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Dream on!

          We all want the Return of the V-8, but it’s day may be largely done in passenger cars. But there’s nothing that says you can’t take the basic 3.6 and customize it to the point that it shares little, if anything, with other GM vehicles.

          This, I think, might be the right approach – take basic GM hardware and tune it to the point that it’s “bespoke” to Cadillac. But the current approach, which is basically “take the same engine that’s in a Malibu and stuff it into an ATS,” isn’t working.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Blasphemy. LS it and lose curb weight as that motor gets excellent economy for a V8. Pay the tax, its not like there isn’t margin in such a thing.

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            FreedMike

            GMs 2.0L Turbo is still better than the engines the Germans put in their base model compacts.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      10-15 years ago I’d agree, but that ship has sailed. People want Cadillac to throw a hail mary pass, but the game ended years ago. The market is a completely different sport.

      Kick and scream all you want, but the only way to guarantee this thing’s success for Cadillac would be to make it a crossover. Which actually wouldn’t be too bad. Everything else about it could stay the same, and it would go from zero to hero.

      People longing for the return of the Fleetwood Brougham have to let their dreams go. That concept died nearly 50 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      It’s nice to think of Cadillac as a low-volume elite premium brand akin to Maybach or Rolls Royce, but they don’t have the production facilities or personnel to make it happen, right now, and GM doesn’t have a luxury brand to satisfy the high volume luxury segment, if Cadillac moves up.

      Maybe some day Buick could take over that mantle, but they have a long way to go.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    -de.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    The real flagship should be an extra long Escalade. It can’t look like a Escalade or a Chevy. Must have eight or more cylinders. Add about 12 inches to the wheelbase. Make it to huge for 95% of the parking places. Ignore Mercedes and everyone else. No one cares about sedans, so a flagship sedan would be a waste.

  • avatar
    1500cc

    I doubt very much it’ll keep the “Escala” (or any non-alphanumeric) name. It’s just easiest to reference that name for now when discussing it.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    It’s beautiful.

  • avatar
    stars9texashockey

    So Cadillac is coming out with an A7 competitor 11 years later.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    My interest level in this vehicle will be directly proportional to its cylinder count. I have a bad feeling it will be at best a 3.0TT + hybrid but maybe, just maybe not???? Come on GM, if you can sell a $100k Escalade with the 6.2, why not this?

  • avatar
    TW5

    If you’re a luxury manufacturer, you must have a flagship sedan. Non negotiable, regardless of how low volume drops. It exists to define and establish the brand.

    The question is why did Cadillac choose to build the Escala now? There is no doubt the Escala must exist at some point to compete directly with Japanese and German luxury car manufacturers, but if Cadillac is burning money to establish its brand, why not build the Ciel? It would be the undisputed king of a segment that plays to the LA-LasVegas-Maimi crowd, and it’s actually true to Cadillac’s somewhat-whacky tradition of building land yacht convertibles.

    If you want to make a splash, that’s how you do it.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    GM could save a bundle on badges if they name the high-volume trim of this car the “ESCALA DE.”

    Concept was excellent. This is GM. All we can glean from the fact it was green-lit for production is that the product will in no meaningful way resemble the concept.

    Escala is a horrible name. LaSalle would have been better as it’s neither made-up nor stolen from an obscure degree of Anglophilia, plus it has a connection to Cadillac’s past. I think it would be fitting to name a modern halo Caddy after the sub-Cadillac of the past.

  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    I wonder if GM needs this car strictly from a marketing perspective. Built to actually be a contender at the top tiers of luxury sedans, even if it ends up being a loss leader on purpose.

    Lexus started with the LS400 and claimed their ability to build a competent S-Class fighter, but in reality they ended up making the real money selling a million Camry ES300’s and RX350’s partially off the status of the LS400. Could not Cadillac put a proper car on top and then move metal in the form of CTS/XT5/etc.?

    To pull off a Lexus though, the Escala would have to be THAT good. I’m not confident they can pull off all the details.

  • avatar
    DavesNotHere

    Having seen this car at Pebble Beach, the interior is stunning, featuring suicide doors, and exterior-wise it is much better looking than the angry angular look of the current gen. If they get the production car close to the concept, it’s got a great chance to compete at the top of its segment.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “Pillarless”? Hmmm…

    I’m listening…

  • avatar
    haroldhill

    Linear thinking. If sedan sales are dropping, they will continue to zero. Like a cold spell in summer portends the end of beach season. Forever. Sedan sales will be cyclical. Someday the SUV/CUV craze will go the way of digital watches, and the companies that are positioned for this will win big. Cadillac can easily afford to keep a couple of lovely sedans on the shelf; they would be fools not to do so. And this one is quite nice.

    • 0 avatar
      turbo_awd

      @haroldhill – Well, yes, things are cyclical – until they aren’t. Horse and buggy sales haven’t really been “cyclical” much in the last 100 years or so..

      What I mean is this: if the AI-driving fanatics’ wildest dreams come true, and in 5-10 years, we have self-driving cars, ANY pretense of sportiness will go out the window. Google isn’t going to build an “aggressive” version of their software that cuts their own “slower” cars off. I mean – ALL the AI research has been with minivans (Waymo/Alphabet/Google) or SUVs (Uber). GM is doing the Bolt, which is sort of a mini-CUV, AFAIK. Once the first 10k self-driving cars are all CUV/SUV, that’s it. Game over. They’ll ALL be CUV/SUV. For self-driving, computerized/AI driven, the more every car is like every other car, the better.

      Which is why I’m buying one more “fun” car before it’s all over.. Well, worst-case scenario, anyway..

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Make it an EV & then you got something really special Cadillac!

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    Liftback would be welcome; but will Cadillac go with it?

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Can’t wait for the 2022 Oldsmobile Aurora version!

  • avatar
    scott25

    It’s hilariously obvious this will be an EV, Cadillac’s Model S competitor, can’t believe only one other comment mentions that.

  • avatar

    All these recent developments at Cadillac make Lincoln look increasingly irrelevant.

  • avatar

    All these recent developments at Cadillac make Lincoln look increasingly irrelevant.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    This is gonna look a bit tired come late 2021. Is it gonna bring something new to class or just merely be a Cadillac version of what has existed at the other aspirational brands?

    I hope Cadillac is currently hard at work removing the whiff of Tahoe from a new (when?) Escalade and midsize, 3-row crossover it sorely needs to compete with the superbly realized (and bad-assed, broad shouldered American style) Navigator and the newly revealed Nautilus.

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