Guest Commentary – GMInsideNews.com’s Mark Bono – Part 1

Originally appeared at GMInsideNews.com on March 1, 2010.

GM: Give Cadillac The Product it Deserves or Kill it.
Another commentary on what Cadillac should be
by Mark Bono (ChevyRules), GMI Staff Writer

XTS 'Concept'

Cadillac, Cadillac, Cadillac…. What should I do about you?

Cadillac, one of General Motors’ four core brands, has been a hot topic lately with the direction (or lack there of) GM has decided to take it. I am one of those who are skeptical of Cadillac’s supposed path to “revival”. Back in the first renaissance of Cadillac, I was excited to see Cadillac was returning to rear-wheel drive and greatness. The first round of post-renaissance vehicles did lack the interior that is expected in a luxury car and the styling of the STS and SRX was very lackluster. The driving dynamics and handling of these vehicles though was very well regarded by the media and driving public. So I was hopeful that the second generation of these vehicles would improve upon the shortcomings of the first generation.

In 2006, Cadillac released the third generation Escalade and the interior was much improved. In 2007, the second generation CTS was released. YES! I am ecstatic that GM is really focused on bringing back Cadillac to its glory days. Then–in typical GM fashion–they disappoint greatly. Here comes 2009 and Cadillac releases the second generation SRX. Do they improve upon the shortcomings of the previous generation? Yes, they do as the styling and interior is much improved. What disappoints me you say? The key element that allowed the first generation SRX win Car & Driver best luxury SUV three years in a row (horrible interior and styling in tow) has been taken out of the equation. GM has removed the SRX from its rear-wheel drive Sigma underpinnings and moved it to the front-wheel drive Theta-Epsilon platform ruining its driving dynamics (you need power robbing and weight adding AWD to restore its handling and driving dynamics). Not only that, but they gave the base version an anemic 3.0 liter Direct Injected V6 that produces a pathetic amount of torque and produces it high in the rev range. Did GM decide to go the Honda route with this engine and make it fuel sipping in the low end and high power in the high end? Nope. The SRX 3.0 is not only slow and has no power, but it sucks down gas as well. Why did GM do this for the new SRX? So it could move down-market and compete with the Lexus RX. Wonderful old GM trait there new GM! Go after sales and volume rather than improving Cadillac’s image in an image-driven market. Enter 2010 and we have the XTS Platinum Concept. Is it the highly anticipated Zeta based DT7 everyone has been talking about? Again, the answer is no. The most anticipated replacement for the STS and DTS is based on an extended version of Epsilon II. The interior is gorgeous and the exterior is better looking then the STS and DTS, but still a bit conservative for me. Being on the extended Epsilon II or Premium Epsilon limits the XTS to a max of 350 HP as there is no word if a V8 can fit in the engine bay of an Epsilon II vehicle and no V8 period that could be mounted transversely that would make it competitive with the other full-sizers.

So with GM’s new direction down-market with Cadillac, GM has–once again–brands stepping on each others toes. So what would I do to rectify this problem? I have thought up three directions for GM’s most prestigious brand.

Move Cadillac up market

No, I do not mean restore it where it was back in 2004. I mean move it to Bentley and Rolls Royce level. Where GM makes the best damn luxury car the engineers and designers can come up with. Vehicles that have zero compromises and use the best leather, the best wood and the best materials known to man. This means producing an updated and redesigned Sixteen (the design is old so it needs to be redone), developing V10 and V12 powertrains and maybe throw a supercar in there (yes a supercar that can beat the Corvette).

This not only raises Cadillac’s prestige to where they were back in the 1950’s where they were mentioned in the same sentence as Rolls Royce, but also creates breathing room between Cadillac and Buick. As the gap between Cadillac and Buick would be so great, GM can give Buick vehicles like the Park Avenue and Rivera without having to worry about it entering the market Cadillac is occupying. It would be like a 1000-pound gorilla being lifted off Buick’s back that currently restricts its movements.

…continued in Part 2