WRITER: Nadia Michel
With hip new offices in New York and some inroads to the fashion world, Cadillac is on the move. The brand is rolling out a new attitude with the aspirational CT6.
If you think you can predict what Cadillac will do next, think again. True, the company has a reputation it could never disavow and an image it could never shed, namely old-school American luxury and a certain hip hop connotation. Nor does it want to. Instead, it’s reinventing itself in a self-respectful way, keeping it real with updates on the brand’s classic lines, proprietary technological developments and a plan to unveil eight new models by 2020, beginning with the CT6.
As a full-size luxury sedan, the CT6 is not expected to be a volume player but it does aim to build excitement around the brand. Hence, it looks as classy as you’d imagine it should. It’s masculine and boxy with a few sporty edges, a balance that could easily suggest a chauffeured VIP sits inside. The chauffeur, however, might have the last laugh, as the car drives more like a sports car than a big sedan.
That’s because the CT6, especially the top-of-the-line 404bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, is chock-full of cutting edge technology, some of the benefit of infusing the brand with billions of dollars. The advanced four-wheel drive system and powerful turbo engine are just the beginning. Inside, for example, an innovative rear camera mirror is one of the standout features, providing the driver with a video image projected on the standard mirror. This gives 300 per cent more vision than a traditional mirror, so you can see who’s coming up your sides in addition to who’s on your tail. The feature can be deactivated, but beware of leaving it in a dual mode, which can be a little confusing.
Active rear-wheel steering is one of the functions that give the CT6 its agility and control, and the functionality changes based on the driving mode- which include Tour, Sport and the probably-won’t-use-it-in-the-Middle-East Snow and Ice. Overall, suspension is stiffer than in other Cadillac models, including the CTS and ACS, thanks to a much-touted fusion-frame structure, but going over speed bumps is a smooth proposition, no matter which mode you’re in.
A little surprisingly given the car’s weighty appearance, the CT6 is the lightest vehicle in its class. In fact, it is almost 100 kilogrammes lighter than a comparably equipped 5-Series, thanks to an innovative use of eleven different materials. As a result, the engine, which is powerful enough, makes the car move faster. And, who doesn’t like a fast car? It also makes it more fuel efficient –a little bonus for the environment, if not the pocketbook.
Another high note is the Bose Panaray sound system that was developed especially for the CT6. During a recent test drive on the roads of Abu Dhabi, this was the feature that had everybody talking. Sure, Bose sent a pretty awesome demo to exemplify the audio capabilities, and the surround sound system may not be as obvious when you’re listening to your average radio station, but nevertheless the sound quality, which comes out through 37 (in the Platinum edition) strategically positioned speakers, rivals the best home-theatre surround sound system around. Not a bad idea to lure a younger clientele.
And that’s kind of the strategy, it seems, for the whole rebranding that Cadillac is manoeuvring itself through. Keeping the Escalade crowd while luring a fresh, new generation seems to be the M.O. To achieve this, the company that was first to mass-produce cars with enclosed cabins, is keeping up with the Jones’s. Or, shall we say, the Schmidt’s. In a concerted effort to take back some market share from the German luxury automakers, Cadillac is coming at them from every angle.
On top of the technology edge (when is the last time a standard-model German luxury car came with cordless phone charging capacity, Smartphone projection capability, two rear hidden screens and a panoramic power sunroof?), Cadillac is closely aligning itself with very current trends. In an effort to position itself as a lifestyle brand, Cadillac is inserting itself into all sorts of high-visibility fashion world stages. This is Cadillac’s second year as the main backer for New York Fashion Week: Men’s, and we caught them in a fashion-show-cum-car-launch with piping-hot brand Public School when we attended the debut of the new XT5 crossover in Dubai’s Design District, a little while back. It’s all part of Dare Greatly, the company’s new slogan coming out of their hip new think-tank digs in New York City’s Soho neighbourhood.
So what will Cadillac dream up next? The company isn’t spilling any beans yet, but by the looks of it, they’re pretty open to anything. We might well see a convertible Cadillac coming down the street sometime soon, as suggested by the awesome-looking Ciel concept car the design team is playing around with. Or, a collab with a luxury brand might be in the works. (Remember Fiat’s Gucci car?) City dwellers would probably fall for a small, super fuel-efficient car, like the Urban Luxury concept model, a compact hybrid with DeLorean-reminiscent doors.
Whatever their next move is, Cadillac will always be a proudly American car – built and assembled in Detroit – no matter how worldly and fashionable it becomes. And what that really means is a lot more bang for your buck.