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On paper and, indeed, in the flesh, the latest Cadillac looks set to place the iconic American brand right in the wheel tracks of the three German powerhouses in the sport/luxury segment – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The CT6, making its public debut at the New York International Auto Show this week, represents the third formidable sedan that Cadillac will be introducing this calendar year, behind the ATS-V and CTS-V. But while the V-Series duo are intended to lure drivers through sheer horsepower and ultimate lap times, the CT6 adopts a more subtle, refined approach. The key to the new Cadillac: new construction methods, new drivetrain technologies and lavish appointments.
While tackling the architecture for the CT6, Cadillac engineers spent, collectively, 50 million hours at the computer screen working on 200,000 structural simulations. In the end, they emerged with 21 patents, a body made of aluminum panels, and a structure that incorporates aluminum and 10 other materials. The structure is further described as offering "bank vault" levels of quietness and being "one of the most advanced in the industry."
Of course, using aluminum to build cars is not a new concept, but the result appears to be paying larger-than-expected dividends in this case. In press materials, Cadillac makes direct comparisons with the standard-bearing BMW line of sedans: The CT6 is described as having the spatial dimensions of the regular-wheelbase BMW 7 Series and a curb weight less than that of the BMW 5 Series.
"We reinvented the approach to structural underpinnings in the quest to develop a unique formula for the prestige luxury performance sedan," said Johan de Nysschen, President of Cadillac. "Melding that new approach with the dynamics conveyed in our other award-winning rear-driven sedans … results in something that has been lost in the segment: the exhilaration of a true driver's car."
In other words, the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class lines are full-size sedans aimed at straight-laced executives who have long since forgotten the pleasures of driving along a twisty road. And the CT6 is not – which is ironic when you consider the history of Cadillac for its first 100 years or so.
The CT6 will be available with the choice of three engines: a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder, an all-new naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V-6 and the go-to choice for true enthusiasts – an all-new twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V-6. This final offering delivers an estimated 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, serious numbers that would make this one of the highest output V-6 engines on the market. To round out the story, the twin-turbo V-6 features cylinder deactivation and automatic stop/start systems to help boost fuel efficiency. An eight-speed automatic transmission should help in this respect as well.
As with the ATS and CTS, the CT6 utilizes a rear-wheel drive platform, which promises engaging driving dynamics. The V-6 versions come standard with an on-demand AWD system that shuttles power to the front wheels when needed. The CT6 also features active rear steering, Magnetic Ride Control and an available Active Chassis System with three different drive modes.
For all the effort that's gone into engineering the Cadillac CT6, the aspects of the car that are most likely to stop traffic are its exterior design and interior amenities.
The car is low and wide, almost menacing and gangster-ish in execution. The signature Cadillac design features, such as the vertical LED headlights and angular front grille, are given even more prominence. Inside, the CT6 continues a newly established tradition for luxurious and high-tech design – and then takes it to the next level through innovation.
The rear camera mirror blends image projection with (and into) the conventional mirror glass. A video system records 360 degrees around the car while driving and when the security system is triggered. And the optional Bose Panaray audio system features a staggering 34 speakers placed strategically around the cabin, including four under each front seat. (The Cadillac CT6 may just be all about the bass.)
Cadillac has struggled to gain ground on its German rivals in some markets due to pricing issues. In the 2016 Cadillac CT6, General Motors appears to have taken the right steps in the car's construction, engineering and amenities. The 2016 Cadillac CT6 goes into production at the end of the year.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.
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