Detroit 2010: Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept
By Chris Haak
This morning in Detroit, about 6:45 in the morning, Cadillac revealed its XTS Platinum concept on the local NBC newscast amidst traffic and weather reports. Then, just under two hours later, they officially unveiled the car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. So much for the art of the surprise. So much for suspense.
The car’s reveal was very non-specific – which is OK for a concept car, I suppose – but fortunately, many of the details were subsequently filled in by the press release. Actually, the embargo lifted last night and many media outlets were able to cover the car prior to its official press conference this morning. Most of the talk about the car from Brian Nesbitt, the former designer and current Cadillac general manager, centered on the car’s design details both inside and out. It certainly looks to be very close to production-ready, although it’s likely that features such as lighting and certain infotainment touches will have to disappear as the car enters production.
GM speaks of the car as developing a new proportion for the XTS (which will eventually replace both the geriatric DTS and the unloved and overpriced STS). I believe what that means is improving on the DTS’ front wheel drive-based proportions and translating the CTS’ attractive rear wheel drive-based proportions into a single car. Looking at the car’s profile, it does do a credible job of disguising its front wheel drive-based roots. I always pay particular attention to matters such as dash-to-axle ratio (it’s generally more desirable to have a longer ratio, especially in luxury cars), and the XTS doesn’t have the front axle tucked too closely to the leading edge of the front doors.
At first glance, the car looks like an overgrown CTS, and indeed, it shares many elements with the CTS. Upon closer inspection, however, little details in the XTS become more apparent. For instance, the upper swage line present on the XTS is nowhere to be found on the CTS. The lower swage line is more pronounced in the XTS than on the CTS, and also accented with chrome on the larger car. Part of the “new proportions” that the XTS features is a far larger trunk in proportion to the rest of the car than the CTS has.
The CTS set a new benchmark for Cadillac interior design and materials four years ago when it made its debut in Detroit as a production-ready concept car, and the XTS picks up where the CTS (and, to a degree, the SRX) left off. This means luxuries such as a new style of automotive suede that’s laser etched, connectivity with various music players and cell phones, DVD screens galore, and a spacious interior that was designed “from the inside out.”
On the topic of “inside out design,” Brian Nesbitt confirmed that all future Cadillac vehicles will include a Platinum model (with more extreme luxury features, similar to the current Platnium series models in the lineup), or will have a V extreme performance model. For instance, there would all but certainly be a Platnium XTS, but perhaps not an XTS-V, which would not be compatible with the XTS’ more Cadillac-traditional ride and handling, not to mention the car’s Epsilon platform-based front wheel drive roots (shared with the Buick LaCrosse and Regal).
Perhaps nearly as interesting/exciting as the XTS’ exterior and interior is what’s under the hood. The car boasts GM’s 3.6 liter direct injection V6 coupled to a plug in hybrid drivetrain. With the torque of an electric motor helping with off-the-line grunt and the nearly-300 horsepower V6 providing the rest of the thrust, the XTS should be a reasonably competent performer, while managing stellar city fuel economy that surpasses far smaller hybrids. The concept car’s powertrain should produce about 350 net horsepower. Finally, we should note that the car also includes GM’s Magnetic Ride Control (MRC), as featured in the CTS-V, Corvette ZR1, Opel Insignia OPC to avoid compromise between ride and handling.
To me, the XTS does a credible job of translating Cadillac’s design language into different products. It almost seems, however, that Cadillac is slipping into the former BMW mentality (where a 5 Series looked nearly the same as a 3 Series, and a 7 series looked nearly the same as a 5 series, and so on.) BMW has moved well past the stage of all of its models looking the same thanks to Chris Bangle; let’s see if Cadillac can avoid making the same mistake, which would not allow room in the lineup for different types of vehicles that could be incompatible with the design language.
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