More Details on Future Cadillac Flagship, Could Be Mid-Engine Sports Car
We broke the news last June that Cadillac was planning a flagship vehicle, but precious few details were known at the time. We’ve since learned more, including the intriguing possibility that the flagship may not be a sedan at all. Indeed, Cadillac currently has two paths its flagship could follow; the end result of either would slot above the forthcoming XTS (shown in concept form above), which will replace both the mediocre STS and geezer-friendly DTS when it goes on sale as a 2012 model.
The first is a flagship sedan, code-named “UP” (Über Premium? Ultra Pretentious? Urethane Protected?) and designed to take on the Audi A8, the BMW 7-series, and the Mercedes-Benz S-class. Priced at around $80,000, this car would use a lightened version of the long-wheelbase RWD Zeta platform found under our upcoming Chevy Caprice Police Pursuit cop car. Power would come from either a turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 or a naturally aspirated V-8.
The second vehicle under consideration is more expressive and more expensive but decidedly lower volume. The exact shape of this possible car has yet to be decided; proposals include a large—nearly Maybach-large—high-end asphalt crusher, a Mercedes CL–sized personal luxury coupe, a high-performance coupe, a four-door B-pillarless sedan, a trend-following four-door coupe, or, most interesting, a mid-engine two-seat sports car built on a new platform.
As to the latter, Cadillac remains enthralled with the design and layout of the Cien concept from early last decade; that fascination has likely stoked the sports-car fire. To justify the piles of money required to develop a bespoke architecture, though, such a car would need to be incredibly expensive—$150K or more. Of course, cost amortization could come by using the platform in future GM products, like, say, the C8 Corvette. (The C7 Vette will be a mechanically similar but aesthetically evolved take on the current C6.) But while it’s possible the C8 could go mid-engine as a rule, there’s also a chance that any such architecture could be used to create only a brand-topping spin-off—think evolved ZR1—while the rest of the lineup would remain front-engined. The current ZR1 has proven that there’s room for a six-figure specialized Vette, but a fully mid-engined (and more expensive) lineup would naturally limit sales volumes, and GM wants to keep the Corvette factory in Bowling Green humming.
The decision as to what direction the future Caddy range-topper will take should be made by the middle of the year. Before anything as wild as a hugely expensive sports car can come to market, however, Cadillac has to both prepare and successfully launch more critical products—the 3-series–fighting 2013 ATS lineup, for example—and prove reliably profitable. For that reason, our money’s on the less risky sedan option winning out.
By Erik Johnson