Cadillac frontman Johan de Nysschen’s hint that the CT6 sedan was just an appetizer is finally being fleshed out with some substance. That reassurance comes in the form of the new Cadillac Escala concept. The big and technology-packed luxury sedan breaks cover at Pebble Beach not only as a means to steer Cadillac design toward new horizons, but also to showcase what we can expect from a flagship sedan positioned above the groundbreaking CT6.
“First, Escala is a statement of intent for the next iteration of the Cadillac design language, and also technical concepts in development for future Cadillac models,” said de Nysschen in a statement. “Secondly, Escala builds Cadillac’s aspirational character, signaling the brand’s return to the pinnacle of premium.”
The same lightweight rear-wheel-drive architecture used for the CT6 underpins the Escala, although the stately show car is 6.5 inches longer, 2.7 inches wider, and features a wheelbase that’s 4.7 inches longer. No bones about it, this is a big, elegant, forward-thinking luxury sedan.
Significantly, the Escala also packs under its angular hood another poorly kept secret: an all-new V-8 engine. The concept uses a prototype 4.2-liter twin-turbo V-8 with cylinder deactivation, some version of which is long believed to be destined for the CT6 and beyond before the end of the decade.
Given what’s under the skin, Cadillac is making it very clear that the Escala is realistic preview of a future flagship luxury sedan, potentially called the CT8. But the design itself, along with the technology it cleverly incorporates, gives us our clearest view yet at exactly how Cadillac hopes to further challenge the Germans at their own game.
To start, the Escala has overhauled a few key elements of Cadillac’s front end design. The shield-shaped grille, which Cadillac says will start appearing on production models soon, abandons some of the thicker chrome outlining we’ve seen on the Cadillac CTS and CT6 in favor of a slimmer, tighter look. Flanking the new nose is a fresh approach to lighting design, incorporating organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology. The L-shaped vertical foglight housings carry over from the CT6, but the headlights have been shrunk down into slim eyelid-shaped slits. They connect with the grille by way of a thick cut line that connects the front fenders with the hood. Compared to the current look on production cars it’s a lot less busy, but also somehow less unified.
Moving backward, the Cadillac Escala sits on swanky 22-inch wheels with a dual-layered spoke design. In profile the big four-door looks especially sleek, with two simple body lines running along the side. Light plays nicely off of the surfacing above the rocker sills, accentuated with a chrome detail that matches the mirrors and greenhouse outline. On top is a long character line then moves from the hood, underneath the skinny side mirror, and below the inset door handle on the front door. It then disappears, only to continue above the hidden handle on the rear door, before continuing toward the rear at the confluence of the taillights and the Escala’s dramatic roofline and liftback rear hatch.
The look of the car blends American style with German substance, but the rear end is where the Escala is most clearly linked to previous Cadillac concept cars like the Elmiraj. It shares a similar boattail rear end, but with a considerably bulked-up look. From some angles, there are some noticeable points of overlap with the rump of the Hyundai Vision G concept.
Inside, the view from the driver’s seat is something fresh. The whole instrument cluster is unified with the center stack in a large, sweeping design that features three curved OLED screens developed with LG. Not only do the screens look crisp and clear, but they’re inset with hand-stitched leather embossed with Cadillac script. Very snazzy. The system is managed using a rotary knob, as well as voice and gesture control capability, and the controller contains Cadillac’s “flying Goddess” symbol.
The rest of the cabin is wrapped in great-looking leather combined with finely textured fabric that Cadillac says is inspired by suiting material often used in fashion. It’s simple and elegant, while bits of technology like the rear-seat entertainment continue to sneak into play, in this case tucking in underneath the rear headrests.
We’ll see more of the Cadillac Escala concept as Monterey Car Week and Pebble Beach festivities carry on. For now though, Cadillac is making a confident and consistent push toward a global luxury presence currently untouched by any American nameplate.