Here are some sights and scenes from one wicked cool tradeshow.
The CT6 is not a replacement nor successor vehicle to the Cadillac XTS livery sedan, introduced to the industry in 2013, but a premium level option in a Cadillac Professional Vehicles fleet line up that also includes the Escalade and the XTS stretch limousine.
Cadillac has placed the CT6 to compete in what it calls the mid-level luxury sedan category that would include the BMW 7 Series, the Mercedes-Benz S Class, and the Audi A8L. The CT6, which started retailing in March, is 10-inches longer than the XTS.
“The CT6 is easy to get into and out of, it has one inch more headroom, and it’s a bit wider than the XTS,” said Ray Bush, Cadillac Professional Vehicles Program manager, at the start of a March 1 panel discussion during the International LCT Show in Las Vegas.
The CT6 enters a market where sedans overall are struggling to maintain previous sales levels as SUVs, crossovers and pick-up trucks gain wider market share throughout the U.S. automotive industry. Enhancing the luxury sedan experience with added technology, comfort amenities and advanced engineering helps sedans stay competitive.
“The CT6 is a brand-shaping vehicle driving forward and signals the return of Cadillac to large sedan market,” said Eric Angeloro, Launch & Lifecycle assistant marketing manager for the CT6 and XTS. “It’s meant to take on the German competitors.”
About one third of Cadillacs on the road today are models the OEM no longer makes, said Matt Scarlett, the Launch & Lifecycle marketing manager for the CT6 and XTS. Cadillac set out to modernize its traditional luxury brand and create a basis for growth with redesigned models that provide a “unique and rewarding experience,” Scarlett said.
The CT6 launch dovetails with Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” advertising and branding campaign (DareGreatly.com) with a message centered on daring to drive the world forward.
“The videos and website include stories about people featured to reach younger buyers,” Scarlett said. “Four out of five luxury buyers will be Generation X or Y by 2020, and they have a different view of luxury than Boomers. You must have a young, progressive attitude with vehicles that make a statement and investments in every customer touchpoint.”
The CT6 has more fuel efficiency, lighter weight and better handling than German vehicles. “We’re not trying to out German the Germans with this vehicle. We are doing things our own way.”
The CT6 comes in at 3,657 pounds and a length of 204 inches, compared to heavier European sedans that range from 206 to 207 inches. The wheelbase measures 122.3 inches. Width is 74 inches. It has 40.4 inches of rear seat legroom and cargo volume of 15.3 cubic feet. The base price is $53,495, with the livery price reaching about $62,000 to $63,000, depending on options. Cadillac’s goal is to capture about 20% of the mid-luxury vehicle market segment by 2020. “The CT6 is a flagship vehicle. That’s what brings in the customers,” Angeloro said.
Engineered With New Design
In designing and engineering the CT6, Cadillac created a strong, lightweight advanced body architecture with RWD instead of FWD. A total of only 13 castings make up chassis and body panels, with the vehicle using simplified spare parts. The frame is lighter but stiffer because it joins high strength steel and aluminum together. 62% of the body structure is aluminum.
Because of its construction, the CT6 cannot be cut and stretched into limousines. The XTS will remain the base chassis for CMC-approved stretch limousines. Because of sonic welding and aluminum, it makes it impossible to stretch without corrosion and structural issues.
• The CT6 offers three engines: a 2.0L, 4-cylinder turbo w/ 265 hp and RWD; a 3.6L V6 turbo w/ 335 hp and AWD; and 3.0L V6 twin turbo w/ 404 hp and AWD.
• Advanced safety features include passive and active elements, such as lane keeping, collision warnings, pedestrian detection, night vision to detect small animals, and alerts on the instrument cluster. It has automatic front and rear braking, adaptive cruise control, and driver seat with safety alert vibrations.
• Seats are heated and cooled with multiple massage programs, and rear seats also are included in the full information/entertainment system.
• The rear seat legroom extends over 40 inches, slightly more than the XTS, and headroom is one inch more than the XTS. The $2,450 rear seat package includes luxury trims and a three-inch recline on the bucket-style seats with massage programs.
• A quad zone climate control system allows each of the four passengers to customize their temperatures and ventilation with individual controls.
• A 4G WiFi hotspot is standard through Onstar, and a track pad on the center console can be used to control the user experience (entertainment/climate/seats/Internet). The onboard system has advanced smart phone connectivity and a wireless phone charging pad. The Apple Carplay and Android can mirror a user’s smartphone on the Cadillac Cue screen.
• For added security, a 360-degree view camera with trigger recording can document a drive, accidents, and any attempts to break into or damage the vehicle. It eliminates or reduces blind spots by providing a 300% wider view.
• The Bose Panaray sound system is comprised of 34 speakers strategically. The car’s ambient noise controls screen out unwanted outside noises and only allow favorable engine notes to be subtly heard in the cabin.
• As of March, the CT6 did not yet have a warranty program for limo operators, but the company is working on one similar to that of the Cadillac Escalade, which has a 3 year/150,000 miles professional vehicle warranty concurrent with Cadillac’s 4-year/50,000 miles new vehicle bumper-to-bumper warranty.
The more traditional XTS sedan has proven a strong seller in the limousine industry with its solid, luxurious ride enabled by magnetic ride control. It has rear seat legroom similar to that of the CT6 and 18 cubic feet of cargo space. It will remain in production for at least a few more years, and Cadillac plans upgrades on future model years.
Cadillac will continue providing the XTS chassis to coachbuilders for conversions into limousines, hearses and extended sedans, along with buyer incentives on the XTS and Escalade. They are also reviewing a possible livery option and incentive program for the CT6.
Angeloro underscored the XTS serves the livery market well as a sedan that provides “comfort, space and a plush drive.”
“This is not a racetrack car. This car is meant to have a spacious, comfortable luxury feel. XTS will serve us for the next several years, and be available to your fleet. The CT6 is meant to be a driver’s car, whereas the XTS is a touring car meant for comfort,” he added.
The Escalade keeps its status as the most highly acclaimed luxury SUV in the market, and the most successful one in the limousine industry. The fourth generation version, released with the 2015 model year, is more luxurious with added technology. It features many of the tech amenities standard on the CT6.
Due to the timing of the launch, Cadillac anticipates a compressed 2016 model year cycle for the CT6, with the 2017 MY arriving later this year. Among 39 recent CT6 auto reviews, the critiques have been overwhelmingly positive, said Angeloro, who previously worked at Mercedes-Benz for 14 years. “Even journalists have picked up on the fact that as we are bringing Cadillac into the (middle) luxury segment. We’re not copying BMW or Mercedes-Benz; we are staying true to our own, and carving out unique white space with this vehicle.”
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