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Cadillac Is Adding Badges to Its Cars Americans Won’t Understand

Starting with 2020 XT6, Cadillacs will wear their metric torque figures on their rears.

In a somewhat strange move, Cadillac will add three-digit badging to its vehicles that denote the amount of torque the engine produces—and they’ll be determined by the figure in newton-meters, rounded to the nearest 50. The move starts with the new 2020 Cadillac XT6, which has a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that pumps out 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. But in newton-meters, the torque rounds to 400, so a badge that says “400” will be affixed to the crossover’s rump. Badging for vehicles with a turbocharged engine will also feature the letter “T.” 350T was given as an example we’ll see on an upcoming model, perhaps on the vehicle slated to debut next month at the New York auto show.

To further complicate things, V performance models won’t adopt the new badges because, Cadillac says, the number is too large. The CT6-V, for example, with the 4.2-liter twin-turbo Blackwing V-8 has 550 horsepower and 850 Nm of torque—or 627 lb-ft in the units more familiar to Americans.

The primary justification for the new badging is to move away from displacement-related nomenclature on cars. Displacement will lose importance as electrified and fully electric powertrains become more prominent. “When we have EVs, we won’t be talking engine displacement anymore. We’ll be focused on torque and output,” Cadillac president Steve Carlisle said. (For the same reason, Audi in 2017 instituted to a similarly odd badging system in Europe and other markets—albeit not the U.S.—based on powertrain output in kilowatts.) Cadillac’s position as a global brand was cited as the reason for adopting newton-meters as the standard. In addition to the U.S., it is sold in Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, Korea, Europe, Russia, and the Middle East.

Cadillac has been names as the lead brand for GM’s electric-vehicle push. The first pure EV for the brand is due in 2022 and will be followed by a full family of vehicles in relatively quick succession, as many as one every six months. Some will be new nameplates, some will be new generations of existing nameplates but with electric power. With the exception of special vehicles, names will likely continue to be alphanumeric.

The XT6 is a three-row, seven-passenger SUV that slots between the XT5 and Escalade. It starts at $53,690 and goes on sale this spring.

 

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