Cadillac is going big in 2015.
General Motors’ luxury nameplate confirmed Friday that it will debut an all-new, full-size luxury car at the New York Auto Show on March 31.
The new vehicle, to be called the CT6, goes into production at the end of this year as a 2016 model. When it does, it will be the first proper rear-wheel-drive flagship sedan Cadillac has offered in years, and one the automaker hopes will challenge the BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 models for full-size supremacy.
"We’ve been looking for Cadillac to step up its game again, and back up the claim that it’s the standard of the world," said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, an automotive research and consulting group. "With the CT6, maybe they’ll get a little closer to that."
Details on what will power the CT6 will be announced at the New York debut. The car is expected to use the twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V-6 engine currently in the compact ATS-V performance sedan and the midsize CTS Vsport.
That engine is capable of producing at least 455 horsepower, and probably will be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Cadillac, eager to keep the CT6 light and boost both fuel efficiency and handling, will build the car using aluminum and high-strength steel. The CT6 will also come standard with a rear-view screen that uses streaming video to give the driver roughly four times the field of vision of a normal rear-view mirror.
While the CT6 will be positioned as a rival to long-wheelbase sedans from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the size and price of the Cadillac will bridge the gap between German brands’ midsize and fullsize cars. A larger Cadillac -- likely dubbed the CT8 or CT9 -- is expected at the end of the decade, Peterson said.
The CT6 also ushers in a new era of names for Cadillac, which will forsake the ATS and CTS labels. All new sedans will start with CT and then a number denoting their position in the lineup. The higher the number, the higher the price.
SUVs will start with XT, though Cadillac is expected to keep the Escalade name given the cache it has with buyers.
Adding the CT6 to the Cadillac lineup could also help revive the brand’s lagging fortunes. Overall, sales were down 6.5% in 2014 compared with a year earlier; they would have been much worse had it not been for the popularity of the redesigned Escalade that went on the market last year.
Much of Cadillac’s woes are blamed on poor marketing and strategy and too much turnover in Cadillac’s executive ranks in recent years. "These are not bad cars at all," Peterson said. "They just haven’t had the longevity to make real gains on sales side."
GM indicated it was taking Cadillac’s turnaround seriously in 2014 when it hired Johan de Nysschen as the brand’s new president. The executive came to Cadillac from Nissan’s Infiniti brand. Before that, he was instrumental in turning around Audi as its U.S. president from 2004 to 2012.