NEW YORK CITY – After a decade-plus of trying to reinvent itself as the 21st-Century Standard of the World, Cadillac has its first serious chance of meeting that goal with the new 2016 Cadillac CT6 full-size sport sedan, premiering this week at the 2015 New York Auto Show. As great a leap that the latest Cadillac CTS is over the second-generation car, which was a great leap forward from the first CTS, it still struggles to check all the boxes in competing with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
The CT6 appears to be different.
We say “appears” because while it ups the Cadillac ante with competitive materials (inside and out), fit and finish, presence and specifications, a first drive of the car is many weeks off. It’s scheduled to go on sale in North America just before the end of the year.
But those specs, at least, are pretty impressive. Cadillac touts the car’s “similar” agility to the smaller, midsize CTS, though dimensions are closer to the standard-wheelbase BMW 7 Series sedan. Cadillac marketing is clearly trying to suggest that the CT6 is more of a sport sedan than the 7 Series and its competitors, led by the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Cadillac estimates the 2016 CT6’s base curb weight at “less than 3,700 pounds,” while the short-wheelbase BMW 740i (twin-turbo six-cylinder-powered, compared with the CT6’s base turbo-four) weighs 4,310 pounds, the Mercedes-Benz S550 (V-8) weighs 4,630-4,773 pounds, and the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe tips the scales at 4,191 pounds.
The base engine for the CT6 will be a 265-hp, 2.0-liter turbo I-4, with a new 400-plus 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 option the perfect size for the Chinese market (displacement is just under 3000-cc). This new V-6 engine will be available in North America only with all-wheel-drive. An all-new 335-hp 3.6-liter V-6 will be available with rear- or all-wheel-drive. A plug-in hybrid powertrain will debut in two weeks at the Shanghai auto show, and, some time after the 2016 model year, a new overhead cam V-8 related to the 3.6-liter engine will be added to the lineup.
With an overall length of 204 inches on a 122.4-inch wheelbase, the CT6 is a real ‘tweener, threading the needle between the larger S-Class and long-wheelbase BMW 7 Series and the short-wheelbase 7 Series and 6 Series Gran Coupe. For example, the CT6 is 3.3-inches shorter and its wheelbase is 4.0-inches shorter than the long-wheelbase BMW 7 Series, though it’s 4.2 inches longer, with 2.6-inches more wheelbase than the short-wheelbase 7. These dimensions mean that Cadillac doesn’t need a stretched wheelbase CT6 for the Chinese market–that gap will be filled with the upcoming S-Class competitor (possibly called CT8 or CT9) coming in 2019.
Engineers achieved the svelte body with its new Omega full-size, rear-wheel-drive platform. Cadillac calls it “aluminum-intensive,” with 13 high-pressure aluminum castings in the body structure and high-strength steel where it’s most effective for a stiff body structure and crash protection.
The car features a 360-degree camera view displayed on the Cadillac User Interface (CUE) screen, to reduce blind spots. The CUE screen is 10.2-inches diagonally, with 1280 x 720 high-definition resolution and a console-mounted touchpad. An enhanced night vision feature uses more heat signatures to identify people and large animals, and a new rear camera mirror projects various 360-degree camera views on the rearview mirror. There’s new Advanced Park Assist autonomous parking tied to the automatic braking system, a new Pedestrian Collision Mitigation and wireless phone charging, OnStar 4G LTE, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Like the Lincoln Continental concept also premiering at the New York show, the production 2016 Cadillac CT6 features interior and exterior lighting that turns on when you approach the car with your keyfob. The interior is covered in what Cadillac calls Opus leather, and there are five seat-massage programs, reclining rear seats and, for the first time for this brand, heating elements woven into the seats. Our initial impressions are that the interior quality and materials are a clear step up from other Cadillac models like the CTS and Escalade.
The articulating rear seats have about 3.3 inches of adjustable travel, lumbar adjustment, tilting cushions, massage, and heating/cooling. Media controls, HDMI, and USB ports are located in the rear center armrest. Connectivity and 10-inch rear screens retract into the front seatbacks.
A quad-zone climate control system allows for separate temperature and airflow for each of the car’s four seats. Audio is courtesy a new, high-end high-fidelity Bose brand named Panaray, which Cadillac says features 34 “strategically placed speakers” and uses design and technology from Bose’s home and professional stereos.
The car is part of General Motors’ $12-billion product investment for the second half of the decade, and will be built in Detroit-Hamtramck for North America, Europe, South Korea, Japan, Israel and the Middle East, and in China beginning early next year for that market.