Few automobile manufacturers have seen a bigger resurgence in recent times than Cadillac. Once “The Standard of the World” and builders of some of the biggest, most expensive and most luxurious cars in the world, Cadillac ended the twentieth century building dull, blandly styled sedans primarily bought by older Americans out of little more than brand loyalty. Ever since the earlier part of the last decade, though, Cadillac has reinvented itself quite successfully, with much of that success owed to the CTS, a car that more than kept up with the established BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class and reinvigorated the company’s image. The ATS has been another strong point. Cadillac is now changing things up again and making headlines, as the 113-year-old company has appointed new president Johan de Nysschen, moved its corporate headquarters from Detroit to New York City, and put more emphasis on global growth.
Cadillac has also completely changed its model naming structure for the future, going from three letter model names to three-character alphanumeric ones. This new style of naming debuts on the CT6 sedan, the soon to be range-topping model aimed at the big Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series. The first to ride on GM’s Omega platform, the CT6 is a rear- or all-wheel drive sedan that is 8.5 inches longer than the CTS that it sits above and will feature significantly more luxury equipment, but isn’t any heavier thanks to a heavy use of aluminum. With the CT6, Cadillac will be trying to appeal to more mainstream luxury buyers worldwide, and not just the automotive journalists who have raved about the ATS and CTS.
The CT6 will be top dog in the Cadillac model range for a time, but it won’t be the company’s flagship. There had been speculation about a long wheelbase CT6, but a separate model name will be used instead. Cadillac has trademarked the name CT8 (as well as CT2 through CT7), with which it will dub a long wheelbase version of the CT6 as its halo car to complete with long wheelbase versions of the luxury offerings from Germany. The CT8 will ride on the same GM Omega platform as the CT6 but will of course be longer and have more room on the inside, and engines will start with the new 3.0-liter V-6 out of the CT6. In twin-turbo form, the motor will make around 400 horsepower, and a 500-plus horsepower 4.5-liter V-8 is a likely choice in the future.
The CT8 is in no rush to come out. While the CT6 is slated for next year, we’ll have to wait until 2018 for the flagship CT8. As a result, details are fairly sparse at the moment, and one can’t help but wonder how good the products from Cadillac’s competition will be by the time it is introduced. Presumably, it will have unique styling cues, more bells and whistles on the inside and more performance touches, but will share the same lightweight architecture of the CT6 that weighs in less than its German rivals. It will also likely come at a price around $100,000. There’s no reason to expect that it won’t be a good car, but that’s no guarantee of success.
For the CT8 to really appeal to the world’s premium large sedan buyers, it’s going to have to be seriously impressive. The S-Class, the established name in that segment, is just that: established. And name recognition is everything in a market segment where status is so important. The Cadillac will either have to be so much better than the S-Class/7-Series/A8 as to seem irresistible (which isn’t likely), or it will have to be unique enough to draw in buyers who want something different as well as just a large luxury car. Whether Cadillac can pull that off has yet to be determined, but Cadillac seems to be making the right moves as it expands more into the growing luxury car market, which is strong in Asia and the Middle East. Cadillac looks like it’s striving to be “The Standard of the World” once again, and it’s cars like the CT8 that will show the way.
By Andrew Newton