Cadillac's V-Series Was Apparently Too Powerful for the Mainstream
We, like everyone else, bemoaned Cadillac’s new V-Series models for seeming underpowered. And yet the company now suggests that putting a lid on power was part of the plan all along. Apparently, GM claims, shoppers were being scared off by the CTS-V’s big numbers.
“There was, frankly, some people who were intimidated by the cars,” GM President Mark Reuss elaborated last week, according to Automotive News. “When we did a [V-Series], they were hammers … There’s some intimidation there.”
While undoubtedly true of some customers, is Cadillac certain that’s the message they want to impart? No matter how you slice this cadaver, the fact remains that the brand is still delivering two V-Series entrants that fail to impress on paper the way their predecessors did. We’ll happily admit that horsepower isn’t everything, but you cannot lead with how the CT4-V’s improved efficiency and lighter curb weight will make it a better car than the ATS-V its replaces when all anyone can notice is a glaring horsepower disparity.
The outgoing, 6.2-liter V8-powered CTS-V currently produces 640 hp. Meanwhile, the CT5-V that replaces it utilizes a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that’s estimated to crank out 355 hp and 400 pound-feet of torque. The CT4-V’s 320 hp and 369 pound-feet get it a little closer to the ATS-V, but there’s still over 100 hp separating the two.
We got into this yesterday, so we’ll not rehash everything, but Cadillac’s current solution involves vague promises of subsequent V-Series models aimed directly at enthusiasts. While not a terrible idea, there’s nothing to it presently. Cadillac probably could have led with the big guns, allowing the current CT4 and CT5 V-Series variants to come in as affordable alternatives to the new car everyone envies. But it didn’t. As things stand, no details exist on the more hardcore models — save for General Motors’ promise that they will someday exist.
Of course, had GM expended its initial energy on overpowered, low-volume vehicles, it would miss out on the brand appeal it’s currently trying to expand within a floundering segment (sedans).
From Automotive News:
V-Series customers, GM executives said, are the best advocates for Cadillac, and expanding that base will help the brand as it continues to launch a new or redesigned product roughly every six months through 2021. The CT5 is scheduled to arrive this fall, followed by the CT4 in early 2020, with the V-Series versions slated to reach dealerships shortly after the standard versions in both cases.
“Performance isn’t going to go out of style and these sedans are really attacking a different play than what other people have,” Reuss said. “I still think there’s a lot of room for sedans here.”
Like most of Cadillac’s efforts over the past fifteen years, the current strategy of moving performance-branded models downmarket is reminiscent of its German rivals. While this methodology served the brand exceptionally well in China, the same cannot be said for the United States. (This could have more to do with the brand being late to the crossover party than anything else.)
Still, we — and many others — were under the impression that V-Series cars are supposed to be tributes to American excess, singularly fixated on giving the customer as much power as Cadillac’s luxury mindset will allow.
Saying GM had to soften them because customers were afraid of their raw power feels like a cop-out and doesn’t raise confidence in the high-output models that are supposedly in development. Cadillac is chasing volume, not glory, and seems endlessly preoccupied with China. If only things were a little more balanced.
Hopefully, the new cars deliver in terms of overall performance and are above reproach in terms of luxury per dollar. All we can say now is that they aren’t terrible to look at, seem to provide a better interface with drivers than older models, and should offer more of the technologies well-heeled shoppers are interested in — especially if they happen to live in China.
[Images: General Motors]
Rick Astley on Jun 04, 2019
Now if only the Mazda6 Signature didn't have a nicer interior than these hum-drum, run-of-the-mill, GM products. It's as if only one GM designer in the past 30 years had heard of a soft or curved line, and they were relegated to designing a more brittle single use push clip than they currently have.
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