Cadillac’s New Flagship: “Standard of the World” Again?

Cadillac Sixteen concept

For some years now, Cadillac has been stuck in the muck of GM mismanagement and indecision. There are signs that situation may be changing. Car and Driver tells us that GM, in the person of Chairman/CEO Ed Whitacre, has committed to a new flagship sedan to once again move Cadillac upmarket and get it unstuck.

The car press is hoping, for the most part, that it will echo the 2003 Cadillac Sixteen concept shown above. The Sixteen (also called the XLS project, and don’t get me started on Caddy’s godawful alphabetics) was to use a new V12 engine, confirmed by Bob Lutz as under development in Australia—but that was three years ago, and before bankruptcy.

Nobody really knows what the new car will be or whether it can take on the BMW 7 Series/Audi A8/Mercedes S-Class market segment without being laughed out of town.

We think Cadillac needs desperately to do something different, and that means not taking on the German big boys.

Cadillac XTS Platinum conceptSpeculation (and there is lots of that) now has it that the flagship car will likely be built on a stretched CTS Sigma platform. Rear-wheel drive is likely, engine choice is unknown. The new car will rank above the CTS and the forthcoming XTS (right), shown at Detroit earlier this year. A plug-in hybrid XTS is reportedly in the works.

It could even be a coupe. Check out one GM fan’s redesign of the Sixteen, which is beautiful. The company could also commit to a sedan first, followed by a coupe, followed by a hybrid. The choices are wide open.

What follows might be a successful marketing strategy:

Develop a car that is nothing like an S-Class or a BMW 7. Make it a rear-drive V12 that is an essentially American luxury car such as this country hasn’t seen in thirty years. One commenter on TTAC said it well (scroll down to Syke): Make it a Continental Mark II for the 2010s.

Price it at $10,000 less than the Germans, ignore Lexus, and don’t make it a “halo car” – make it a Fleetwood with 2010 handling, economy, and style, …and please get rid of the present nomenclature. You can attract new Cadillac buyers, but only if you offer them something different from what they can already buy elsewhere.

And, as someone else said, don’t make it another rebadged, upscaled version of your company’s other products, as Ford is doing with Lincoln.

Do you think Cadillac fans would respond to a truly American flagship car? Would you?

—jgoods

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4 Comments

  1. Salvador.Bahia :
    … and the CTS and XTS dont look the same what are you talking about

    Sure they do. Park everything Cadillac makes side-by-side and take a look from the front. Sure, the proportions are different, but they’re all based on the CTS design of 2002. That’s OLD, folks.

    Every new vehicle is a chance to make a new breakthrough styling statement, but GM doesn’t get it. (Like most chevys that now look like the Malibu.) GM misses almost every chance they get to engineer desirable, stylish cars and trucks, and instead make fleets of look-alikes based on a single successful styling exercise. Safe, boring and LAZY. The 16 is the latest regurgitation of the 2002 CTS, but stretched out and with a bulbous nose, making it look like an electric shaver. If I was going to spend this much on a car, I want something that is going to turn people’s heads, not another clone.

  2. The Cadillac Grilles are distinct and very appropiate for the brand.. and the coupe-concept of the sixteen is wonderful.. I agree with the article about doing something the germans arent doing.. The german brands run off of the mind set that they think they are superior.. but People are getting smarter and smarter as time goes so people arent going to just keep buying mercedes/bmw/audi just because its german.. GO CADILLAC!!! and the CTS and XTS dont look the same what are you talking about

  3. Wow, another cookie-cutter GM car. Lets see, they’ve got the giant un-economy size truck, the station wagon, several sedans, but I could be miscounting BECAUSE THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME. Now we have the stretch CTS that looks like someone photoshoped the regular CTS. They could power it with a nuclear pile and it would still be just another look-alike Cadillac. Now if they’ll just but 28″ wheels on it……

  4. Indeed I would, were it styled like the one sketched above. This is a truly good looking automobile, except for the hideous grilles that Caddy has been putting on its vehicles for far too long. I’m sure I’m in the minority on the RWD question here, as I would really spring for one if it were FWD or AWD. I would also stretch and bend the hood forward so that it touches the badge on the gille. I would also suggest that the sedan be the first horse out of the gate, if only to get the engineers to redo the rear window treatment.

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