Cadillac CT6 2016
Cadillac has big plans to redefine itself: a new home in New York City, a decidedly nontraditional alphanumeric naming convention, and a whole spate of new vehicles promised between now and 2020. So it’s perhaps apropos that the brand used an event in the hypertrendy borough of Brooklyn to introduce its new four-door luxury sedan, the 2016 CT6.
The CT6 slots into the Cadillac lineup above the ATS and the CTS, which are wonderful driver’s cars and wheeled embodiments of a purposeful philosophical shift meant to erase consumers’ still-extant preconceived notions of the brand as a purveyor of V-8–powered barges or badge-engineered disappointments. The CT6 clearly is intended to take that mission to the next level.
Its Size and Weight? Go Ahead and Ask
The engineering focus for the CT6 was a fanatical avoidance of unnecessary heft. Its exterior dimensions and interior spaciousness put the CT6 roughly even with BMW’s short-wheelbase 7-series, yet the company claims the naked body-in-white is both lighter and stiffer than those of the smaller BMW 5-series and Audi A6. In fact, Cadillac says this big sedan will have a curb weight under 3700 pounds, roughly the same as the current CTS, despite stretching 8.5 inches longer than that model. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to getting one on our scales to verify the claim.
Its weight-saving mission was bolstered by a heavy dose of aluminum, and Cadillac used the lightweight metal for all exterior body panels as well as numerous structural castings. Lots of mixed-material engineering went into the CT6’s architecture, including laser welding and jet-fighter-style metal adhesives, all in the name of reduced mass—the automaker cites a weight savings of 218 pounds over an identical structure made mostly of steel.
The CT6 is the first production vehicle to utilize GM’s new Omega platform, and the car rides on a wheelbase 7.8 inches longer than that of the CTS. An aluminum-intensive multilink front suspension and a multilink rear are employed, and GM’s excellent magnetorheological Magnetic Ride Control dampers are here, too; an available Active Chassis System includes rear steering. The whole setup enables a turning radius equivalent to the CTS’s, says Cadillac, and the company promises agility to match that 10Best-winning model and dynamics that cater to “the exhilaration of a true driver’s car.”
The Under hood Story:
The CT6 looks to further bury Cadillac’s old-school image in another area: its engine lineup. At least for the moment, there’s no V-8 to be found anywhere on the spec sheet.
In fact, the base engine has half as many cylinders. GM’s 2.0-liter turbo inline-four is the starter engine, making about 265 horsepower, and it’s followed by two all-new V-6s. The first is a naturally aspirated, direct-injected 3.6-liter pumping out 335 horses, and the second is a twin-turbo 3.0-liter unit spinning up 400 ponies and an equal helping of torque. All three engines will work through an eight-speed automatic, and the four-cylinder will be the only rear-wheel-drive model. It’s true—V-6 cars will come standard with a new, active all-wheel-drive system, which routes 40 percent of torque to the front in normal conditions, features a 50/50 winter mode, and boasts a sport setting that sends 70 percent of the engine’s output rearward. It’s important to point out that Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen has promised that a high-performance twin-turbo V-8will find its way under the CT6’s hood eventually, but no details on this engine were available at the car’s debut.
Of course, a $70,000-plus luxury sedan can’t hope to compete without a whole slew of electronic doodads. Exterior cameras permit a 360-degree view around the CT6, and they feed an updated (and hopefully vastly improved) CUE infotainment system that features a high-definition, 10.2-inch touch screen. Functions are controllable via a new touchpad located just forward of the driver’s armrest that can recognize handwritten letters. The camera system is the first that allows recording of the front or rear views while driving—perfect for CT6 track days!—and it saves 360-degree video when the car’s security system is triggered.
Another video screen, this one a 1280-by-240-pixel LCD, is hidden behind the conventional shiny glass of the rearview mirror and displays a virtual full-field rear view unobstructed by the car’s roof pillars and rear-seat occupants. Should you prefer the old-fashioned glass reflection, a flip of the day/night lever at the bottom of the mirror makes the LCD wink off.
Even more screens are found in the rear cabin, where 10-inch retracting displays pop out from the front-seat headrests to entertain your passengers. Those back-seat riders will also find themselves ensconced in chairs with available recline, lumbar, massage, and heating and cooling functions, plus HDMI and USB ports and media controls in the armrests. Quad-zone HVAC means every occupant save the sap relegated to the rear-middle can have his or her atmospheric desires met, and a truly outlandish optional Bose Panaray stereo featuring 34 speakers will pummel passengers with sound. Wireless phone charging, built-in 4G LTE with Wi-Fi, active parking, pedestrian alerts, and a heat-signature Enhanced Night Vision system round out the tech offerings.
All of this is wrapped up in a design that Cadillac says highlights both the rear-drive attitude and the lightweight construction of the CT6. The design may not be as flamboyant as the recent Elmiraj or Ciel concepts that had Cadillac fans’ salivary glands working overtime, but it takes the signature features of the CTS—the vertical running lamp at the outboard edge of the headlights, for instance—and inflates them to big-sedan proportions.
There are a few good reasons for the somewhat reserved design. First off, while the CT6 is the de facto top-of-the-line Cadillac at the moment, it won’t stay that way forever: The company has plans for even larger luxury offerings to compete with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-class and other long-wheelbase Germans.
But perhaps even more important, the CT6’s proportions, emphasis on efficient low-displacement performance, and allotment of rear legroom has it poised to sell big in a growth market beyond our shores: China.
Like Lincoln with the upcoming Continental, Cadillac wants a larger slice of China’s booming luxury-car market, and the CT6 production plans follow that line. While U.S. output begins at the end of this year at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, in early 2016 the company also will start building the big sedan at a new facility in China. Cadillac plans to export the CT6 to Europe, Korea, Japan, Israel, and the Middle East, too.
It’s a necessary move for the 113-year-old brand, as success in the luxury-car market can no longer be defined by U.S.-centric achievements. Cadillac once said it was the Standard of the World, and the CT6 provides a good glimpse of how GM and Mr. de Nysschen envision the brand will once again embody that boast. At this point, at least, the glimpse looks promising.