Cadillac has mentioned, through their North American head of Marketing, Don Butler, that they plan to continue to offer coupes and wagons (sticking with some of the expansion they started with versions of the CTS in the past few years). What isn’t completely clear is if coupes and wagons will be versions of the CTS going forward.
Since this opens the floor for us to play what-if, let’s look at what Cadillac has said and what they may be doing to meet the competition head-on in these and other segments.
First of all, we have a Cadillac that is moving to a brand new rear-drive architecture for most of their mainstream cars. Alpha is the new chassis that underpins the ATS as well as (in stretched Alpha+ form) the CTS. So, no matter what Cadillac decides to do, these will all live on the same basic architecture (a boon for volume/cost). This also marks the end of Sigma, the platform developed in the late 90’s and early 2000’s as part of Cadillac’s first re-birth.
In addition, rumors are rampant of work on a brand-new flagship on a new rear-drive platform called Omega. This could handle any products that are larger than what Alpha can support.
If we look at the offerings from brands such as BMW, Mercedes, and Audi – we can see some hints about what segments Cadillac will choose to play in (as these other competitors have already done some work to dial-in the same markets and what products sell vs what don’t).
In the entry sports sedan market, ATS goes head to head with cars such as the BMW 3, Mercedes C, and Audi A4. BMW and Mercedes have coupe versions of their small sports sedans but Audi sells a slightly different, and larger, variation on their platform as the A5. BMW is expected to be moving to a similar marketing model with introduction of a 4-Series coupe (their coupes will sell as premium models and have higher number name than their sedan kin as a result).
Given this direction, it would be reasonable to expect an Alpha-chassis-ed couple slotting between the CTS and the ATS. Cadillac doesn’t do numbers – so they would need to construct a new naming convention to suggest a premium position above the ATS. It is reasonable to think that ATC might do the trick, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that CTC might better suggest a higher price. Given the A5 and 3-series are available as drop-tops as well – it might be likely for this offering to come al fresco as well.
In the next rung up of coupe-dom, you see products from BMW (6-series), Mercedes (CLS), and Audi (A7). Interestingly, all three of these are available in rakish 4-door ‘coupes’ with only BMW offering a true 2-door in this class. Cadillac will need to decide on how to attack this part of the market. We could see the CTS offered in another form like Audi does their A7 (based on their more traditional A6 sedan) or Mercedes does with the CLS (itself a variation on the E-Class sedan). However, the CTS coupe has been very popular with its show-car styling and true sports-coupe position. I think they will move the CTS-based coupe up a level but keep it as a true 2-door unless sales projections suggest that doing the 4-door coupe thing is where the real money is. If a true 2-door is Cadillac’s choice, and they figure a way to style the car to work with a drop-top – expect a convertible to be offered here as well.
Then we get to Omega – the flagship sedan platform that is strongly hinted at by the Ciel concept and of which we should see another preview soon in the form of a hard-top concept at the 2013 Detroit show in January. The real question would be if Cadillac will see fit to compete with the Mercedes CL coupe with a 2-door version for even more money. I think that’s a long shot and a generation or two out (so post-2020 model year).
Now that we’ve had fun with the coupe market, let’s go the opposite direction and look at utility.
There was a day when all the small sports sedans were offered in wagon form. However, at least in the U.S. market, the only utilities offered are crossovers. Wagon versions of the 3-series and C-class are gone, replaced by X1 and X3 as well as the GLK. Audi does continue to offer the wagon version of the A4, but only in a raised ride-height allroad model in addition to their Q5 crossover.
With this in mind, chances of an ATS wagon seem slim. In its place, we would expect a small crossover built on the Alpha platform that may take on the SRX moniker even though it might be somewhat smaller than the current SRX.
Up a size class from the SRX is where we may find the rumored version of the Lambda II crossover. This was shelved when Cadillac could not shoehorn a larger powertrain into their version without significant and expensive changes to the platform. Expect this big crossover in the vein of the BMW X5/Mercedes GL/Audi Q7 to bow in 2-3 years when the new Lambda is ready for market.
In the large utility segment, Cadillac is ready to unveil their new Escalade (oh the power this name still packs that prevents Cadillac from replacing it with a three-letter name must make the marketers crazy). The Escalade is to be more sophisticated and less in-your-face to better compete with the likes of the Mercedes GL and perhaps Range Rover.
Last, but certainly not least, let’s consider the sports car segment.
The lower tier sees BMW offering a Z4 roadster, Mercedes has the SLK hard-top roadster, and Audi offers the TT in coupe and convertible forms. If you remember how Alpha came to be, you might remember that it began as a development off of the existing Kappa roadster chassis (Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky) that we’ve said for a long time would have given Cadillac a nice offering in the entry space. Now that Alpha has developed, we hear it is still capable of scaling down into the 2-seater space and likely will see duty in a small Cadillac roadster.
In the mid-level luxury sports car, BMW is absent, Mercedes offers the SL, and Audi has their R8. If Cadillac decides to play in this space, they could do far worse than to share the platform of the next Chevrolet Corvette but with a sharper focus on what buyers expect in a $100k luxury coupe/roadster than when they last did this (remember the XLR?). It is unlikely that Cadillac would choose to also offer a direct competitor to the Mercedes SLS – though a V-series version could at least go toe-to-toe with the AMG SLs.
So, given the rumors that we have heard swirling over the last year or so, we have a good picture of where Cadillac may go as they expand the line. Only time will tell how close to the mark we are.
Feel free to poke holes in our assessment in the comments below.