In 2011, Cadillac walked away from high-tech V-8 engines with the last Northstar V-8 equipped models. At the time, increasing needs for high-fuel economy and the cost of updating and replacing the Northstar convinced Cadillac and GM that forced induction V-6 engines alongside performance models packing GM’s impressive small block OHV V-8 engines would suffice.
What was apparently missed is that luxury consumers will pay for 8 cylinders and some part of them view OHV as low-tech, no matter how effective the engine might be and how rational the decisions are with keeping them around.
Enter current Cadillac head Johan de Nysschen. A veteran of Audi and Nissan’s Infiniti brands, he brought with him the ability to articulate how a modern V-8 could help bolster the Cadillac brand with its target consumers.
We’ve seen signs of this work recently with hints to a new engine in the Elmiraj concept (4.5L twin-turbo V-8) and the Escala (4.2L twin-turbo V-8). Both seem to have telegraphed the work being done and may suggest that the displacement announced today was in flux over the past few years or that a larger version of the engine announced today might be possible.
But, what about the engine announced today?
In a nutshell:
- Dual over-head cams
- Direct Injection
- Cylinder deactivation
- Clean-sheet design (not based on any existing GM engine architecture)
- 550 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque in its performance trim (for the 2019 CT6 V-Sport
- Also available in a 500 hp version
Additionally, Cadillac will debut a new 10-speed automatic transmission in the CT6 to pair with this engine. In addition to 10 gear ratios, it is interesting to note that the top 3 gears are all over-drive. This should certainly help with buyers that count cylinders and gears to determine the best car to buy.
Besides sky-high gear counts, let’s dig a little deeper into this new Cadillac V-8 (it is of note that de Nysschen has stated explicitly that this engine is a Cadillac exclusive and that the Corvette team can’t have it).
The twin turbos used in this engine live in a slightly non-standard location. Most engines place the exhaust valves outboard with exhaust headers positioned along the block. While not unheard of, the new 4.2 puts its exhaust valves in the engine ‘V’ which means that both turbos live tightly packed together between the cylinder banks. In theory that reduces the distance exhaust has to flow and reduces any lag between hitting the throttle and the engine making its power.
As a high performance oriented engine, Cadillac has used oil as a method of cooling with jets that squirt oil against the underside of the moving pistons. Since it will be a key part of cooling the engine, it should not come as too much of a surprise that Cadillac has chosen to increase the total oil capacity beyond what most manufacturers might offer. The 4.2L engine holds a whopping 10 quarts of oil, in 0W40 weight, – twice what might have been common not that many years ago.
It is certainly interesting to see that this engine is debuting with the mid-cycle refresh of the CT6…but it is even more interesting to think about how Cadillac may take advantage of this new bespoke power plant in other models. Will we be blessed with a Cadillac-engined V-Series? Will this be a way to differentiate larger SUVs from the brand?
If we really dream…what would an ATS-V with this engine be like.
It will be interesting to watch the brand in the coming years.
Press release below: