On March 31st, 2015, in the evening before the opening of the New York Auto Show press days, Cadillac unveiled its long awaited flagship.
In many ways it turned out to be what we expected…in others, not as much.
As expected, the new flagship is direct competition with the German big sedans. However, that’s far from the end of the story.
Based on GM’s new Omega rear-drive platform, the CT6 is significantly larger than its smaller siblings. It is within fractions of the size of the short wheelbase Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series. However, in keeping with Cadillac’s recent track record of being more dynamically focused than the competition, the CT6 ends up lighter than the mid-sized competitors (yes, that means the big Caddy is lighter than an E-Class or 5-Series).
We knew Cadillac was going to build a technology demonstrator in the CT6 – but surprises came in the form of standard AWD (with the 6-cylinder powertrains), a touch-pad enhancement to CUE to allow handwriting recognition input, all-wheel steering that gives the big car a turning radius that beats the new CTS, and the powertrain surprise wasn’t the expected plug-in hybrid but a base engine in the form of a turbo 4. Yes, the Cadillac flagship has nary a V-8 to be found with the top engine (for now) being a 3.0l turbo V-6 with 400hp.
Staking a unique position (geez, what’s happened to you BMW?) the CT6 is a driver’s car with its emphasis being squarely on driving dynamics.
That isn’t to suggest that Cadillac left luxury behind. 32-speaker Bose Panaray was one feature we knew about. Surprises include 4-zone climate control powered by dual A/C systems, fully adjustable rear seats with over 3 inches of travel, lumbar adjustments, tilting cushions, built-in massage, and built-in heat and cooling – so it seems the driver isn’t the only occupant that will enjoy the drive.
Rumors abound of other features for the CT6 as well as cars from Cadillac even further up-market in the near future. We wouldn’t be surprised to find Cadillac offering a long-wheelbase CT7 as well as the rumored turbo V-8 and plug-in hybrid as well as diesel powertrains in the coming years.
As the beginning of Cadillac’s $12 Billion investment in new product over the next 5 years – it will be fascinating to see how successful the brand is in attracting the attention of luxury buyers. The CT6 goes into production in Michigan in late 2015 and in a second factory in China in early 2016. Cars will be offered also in Europe, Japan, Korea, Israel, and the Middle East in 2016 as well.
Press release below:
NEW YORK – Cadillac tonight held the world premiere of the 2016 CT6, elevating it to the top of its range and creating a new formula for the prestige sedan through the integration of new technologies developed to achieve dynamic performance, efficiency and agility previously unseen in large luxury cars.
CT6 marks Cadillac’s long-awaited return to the global prestige luxury segment, and is one of eight all-new vehicles the brand will launch by the end of the decade as part of its $12-billion product investment to expand and elevate.
“The CT6 is nothing less than an entirely new approach to premium luxury – and an approach only Cadillac can offer,” said Johan de Nysschen, president of Cadillac. “It is a bold endeavor with unmatched dynamism that reignites a passion for driving in large luxury vehicles. In short, it is prestige luxury reimagined.”
Cadillac CT6 takes drivers to a higher threshold of involvement, with technologies that make them more aware of their surroundings, chassis systems – including active technologies – that make the most of control in all conditions, and powertrains led by an all-new Cadillac Twin Turbo engine that rewards with stirring power on demand. Passengers are ensconced in the brand’s ultimate expression of comfort, luxury and connectivity.
The CT6 features one of the industry’s most advanced automotive body structures, an aluminum-intensive architecture that incorporates 11 different materials to achieve strength, performance and efficiency thresholds practically unmatched among the world’s elite luxury performance sedans.
It is one of the world’s lightest and most agile full-size luxury performance sedans, with dimensions and spaciousness on par with BMW’s short-wheelbase 7-Series, but the approximate weight, agility and efficiency of the smaller Cadillac CTS – which is lighter than a BMW 5-Series. The CT6 is lighter than the BMW 5-Series, 6-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
“We reinvented the approach to structural underpinnings in the quest to develop a unique formula for the prestige luxury performance sedan,” said de Nysschen. “Melding that new approach with the dynamics conveyed in our other award-winning rear-driven sedans – including V-Series – results in something that has been lost in the segment: the exhilaration of a true driver’s car.”
Cadillac focused on three pillars that would coalesce to deliver the CT6’s dynamic experience – and do so with higher levels of presence, elegance and technological innovation to help elevate Cadillac around the world.
“Luxury brands are built from the top down,” said Cadillac Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus. “Adding a dynamic, top-of-the-range car is central to Cadillac’s elevation and global growth.”
- All-new Omega architecture features 13 high-pressure aluminum castings in the body structure, creating a lighter, stiffer structure that also enables “bank vault” levels of quietness
- All-new Cadillac 3.0L Twin Turbo engine offer an estimated 400 horsepower (298 kW) and 400 lb-ft of torque (543 Nm), making it among the most power-dense V-6 engines in the segment, at 133 horsepower (99 kW) per liter
- Efficiency is enhanced with the industry’s first application of cylinder deactivation technology on a turbocharged V-6 engine, as well as an eight-speed automatic transmission
- 2.0L I-4 turbocharged and new 3.6L V-6 naturally aspirated engines, each with a new eight-speed automatic transmission
- Active-on-demand all-wheel drive featuring a continuously variable clutch that infinitely varies power delivery to the front wheels – up to 959 lb-ft (1,300 Nm) – to make the most of handling and stability in all conditions
- Advanced performance chassis system designed to deliver an engaging driving experience – with segment-best ride, handling and isolation qualities – through the use of Active Rear Steer, Magnetic Ride Control and selectable drive modes
- Auto Vehicle Hold – a driver-selectable feature that prevents forward/rearward vehicle creep when the driver’s foot is off the brake. It reduces fatigue during heavy stop-and-go traffic and improves vehicle control on steep grades.
- True 360-degree camera view around the vehicle, displayed on the Cadillac CUE screen, helps reduce blind spots around the vehicle
- Industry-first surround-view video recording system that can record front and rear views while driving, and 360 degrees of recording if the vehicle’s security system is activated
- Enhanced Night Vision helps identify people, large animals and more via heat signatures on a display in the driver information center
- Rear Camera Mirror is the industry’s first application of full-display technology, combining camera technology with the conventional inside mirror to project an unobstructed view in the mirror
- New Advanced Park Assist integrates automatic braking into automatic parking
- New Pedestrian Collision Mitigation technology provides pedestrian detection indications, alerts and automatic braking to avoid collisions
- Large, 10.2-inch-diagonal CUE interface screen with 1280 x 720 HD resolution and console mounted touchpad. The capacitive-touch screen reacts faster when scrolling and recognizes handwriting for address/points of interest search. The touchpad allows control of CUE features while resting an arm on the center console rather than touching the screen
- Wireless phone charging and OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Bold American luxury design, distinctly Cadillac – a true rear-wheel drive car, with a dramatic dash-to-axle ratio offering classic long, low proportion and luxury presence that commands attention
- Lightweight and a design that conveys it. Dynamic use of line work and sophistication and precision in surfacing – CT6 looks as light and agile as it actually is
- Elevates modern craftsmanship with curated environments that are rich, expressive and spacious, combining luxurious leathers, exotic woods, and carbon fiber in unprecedented ways
- Standard Indirect Fire light-emitting diode front lighting system offers state-of-the-art, more efficient illumination for a distinctive appearance that is both technical and expressive in its character and personality
- Extended comfort seats offer a refined, luxurious appearance. Features include premium Opus leather, five massage programs, reclining rear seats and Cadillac’s first application of woven-in-seat heating elements
- All-new Articulating Rear Seat package offers new thresholds for comfort and luxury, with approximately 3.3 inches (83 mm) of adjustable seat travel, lumbar adjustment, tilting cushions, massage feature, heating/cooling features and armrest with media controls, including HDMI and USB ports
- Comprehensive rear seat infotainment system with articulating 10-inch-diagonal screens that retract into the front seatbacks, along with connectivity for brought-in devices
- Quadzone climate system, which employs a secondary full-HVAC system that allows passengers to personalize temperature and airflow for each seating position, along with ionizing air purification
- Cadillac-first Bose® Panaray® audio system features 34 strategically placed speakers for exceptional dynamic range and clarity, including the first automotive application of design and technology elements from Bose home entertainment and professional audio products
- Concierge welcome lighting that illuminates the outside of the car as the owner approaches, based on the signal from the passive entry fob
- Hands-free power deck lid operation
- Generous rear-seat legroom – 40.4 inches (1027 mm) – and segment-best interior storage, including 2.2L center console storage volume.
About the architecture
The body-in-white of the 2016 Cadillac CT6 is structurally lighter and stiffer than any other dynamically similar vehicle such as the BMW 5-Series or Audi A6. That state-of-the-art architecture is the foundation for its benchmark-establishing agility and vault-like solidity and quietness.
The new architecture has a mixed-material structure with all-aluminum exterior body panels. Engineers conducted 50 million hours of computational analysis – including 200,000 structural simulations – in its development, generating 21 patents.
“Every panel of the body-in-white is optimized with innovative joining techniques,” said Travis Hester, executive chief engineer, Cadillac CT6. “It’s an uncompromising approach that provides the best balance of strength, lightness and refinement.”
Thirteen high-pressure aluminum die castings in the lower body construction reduce complexity and are significant contributors to the architecture’s low mass. The CT6 is approximately 218 pounds (99 kg) lighter than a comparable vehicle using predominantly high-strength steel.
GM’s most advanced body manufacturing methods are used to fabricate the structure, including proprietary aluminum spot welding technology that is more efficient and helps reduce weight. Laser welding, flow drill fasteners and self-piercing rivets are also employed, along with roughly 591 feet (180 meters) of advanced structural adhesives.
Chassis and suspension highlights
The CT6’s rigid, lightweight architecture is the foundation for its segment-challenging agility, enhanced by active-on-demand all-wheel drive, active rear steering and Magnetic Ride Control on the available Active Chassis System.
“To put it succinctly, every wheel drives and every wheel steers,” said Hester. “And with Magnetic Ride Control, every wheel’s dampening is adjusted by the millisecond, for responsiveness and driver control unparalleled in the segment.”
The chassis system also balances responsiveness with segment-best isolation for exceptional refinement. In the front, the CT6 features a lightweight, aluminum-intensive high-arm multilink short-long arm front suspension. At the rear is a five-link independent suspension that uses multiple outer ball joints and cross braces for optimal handling and steering precision.
Active rear steering with the Active Chassis System contributes to greater low-speed agility and high-speed stability. In parking lots, the turning circle is only 37 feet (11.4 m), comparable with the CTS, which has a 114.6-inch wheelbase vs. the CT6’s 122.4-inch wheelbase.
Active-on-demand all-wheel drive is also part of the Active Chassis System, making the most of handling and stability in all weather conditions. Its lightweight, compact design and two-gear transfer case enable greater fuel economy than conventional fixed-torque all-wheel drive systems. All-wheel drive is standard on all CT6 six-cylinder models.
Selectable Tour, Snow/Ice and Sport modes allow the driver to tailor the CT6’s advanced chassis system for practically any weather or road condition.
Bold proportions, exquisite attention to detail
A bold proportion dominated by a long hood and sleek upper body distinguishes the CT6, evolves the brand portfolio and reinforces the agility enabled by the lightweight architecture.
“This is a car designed for passionate drivers,” said Andrew Smith, executive director, Cadillac Global Design. “CT6 is low, wide and sleek, which is just what you’d expect in a lightweight performance sedan. There is a great dash-to-axle proportion that reinforces the dynamics of the rear-wheel-drive architecture.”
The “face” of Cadillac evolves with the CT6 through new executions of the grille and signature lighting elements. The vertical light signature, for example, features new LED light blades that frame the front of the vehicle, with forward illumination from technologically advanced Indirect Fire LED headlamps.
Proportion, craftsmanship and technology also define the CT6’s cabin. Cadillac designers aimed to deliver a bold, elegant and spacious interior. That elegance is expressed in curated environments and in surface sculpture featuring authentic materials, exquisite details and elevated executions of the brand’s signature cut-and-sew interiors. The CT6 uses state-of-the-art technology to reward its occupants with high levels of comfort, connectivity and safety.
“Never before has such craftsmanship and technology been so seamlessly interwoven,” said Smith. “The CT6 represents our next step in the continuing evolution of the Cadillac brand portfolio.”
Production and manufacturing
Production of the 2016 Cadillac CT6 begins at the end of 2015 for the North American market at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, which underwent a $384-million investment in tooling and other upgrades to support the manufacture of the CT6 and two other products. Chinese-market models will be assembled at an all-new facility in China starting in early 2016.
The CT6 also will be offered in Europe, Korea, Japan, Israel and the Middle East. Production for those markets begins at Detroit-Hamtramck in early 2016.