What is it?
Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept
What's special about it?
What a difference seven years make. It was at the Detroit auto show in 2003 that Cadillac last unveiled a full-size luxury sedan concept, the outrageous Sixteen, a fantastical 1,000-horsepower vision intended to evoke the grandest of grand days for the company some 70 years prior.
For the 2010 Detroit show, Cadillac is showing an entirely more sober full-size sedan concept, the XTS Platinum. In stark contrast to the Sixteen, which was powered by a monstrous 13.6-liter V16 engine, the XTS is conceived to have a plug-in hybrid powertrain using the familiar 3.6-liter V6 along with at least one electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. So the XTS's powertrain has 10 fewer cylinders, 10 fewer liters of displacement and 650 fewer horses than the Sixteen's.
But at a combined 350 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque, the XTS concept's powertrain is also a whole bunch more feasible for an eventual production car — one that won't cost a quarter-million dollars. In fact, the whole concept is much more feasible for production since the XTS Platinum concept reveals key elements of the XTS production luxury sedan that will replace the DTS front-drive sedan, as well as the STS rear-drive sedan, and is certain to go into production at GM's Oshawa, Ontario, plant in January 2012.
The XTS concept, which splits the difference between the DTS and STS by using all-wheel drive, also is right between the two existing sedans in overall length. The XTS concept rides on exactly the same length (111.7-inch) wheelbase as the Buick LaCrosse. The production XTS, which Cadillac will begin producing in 2011 or early 2012, will use the same Epsilon II platform as the LaCrosse.
The broad outline of the concept's styling hints at the production car. We expect to see this CTS-style grille, sans the satin finish, on the nose of the production car, along with the stacked headlights that are stretched rearward along the top of the fenders. The rising beltline and side crease look ready for the stamping plant. And the concept's tall-in-height but short-in-length trunk and fast backlight should confound viewers on the production as much as it will on the concept.
Following current Cadillac practice, we anticipate that the production car will also carry the concept's vertical taillamps that suggest tailfins by standing slightly proud of the trunk. And yes, you might even see a boomerang-shaped deck lid spoiler on a Cadillac DTS replacement. The nicely finished 20-inch aluminum wheels look production ready. The billet-aluminum exterior trim work? Not so much. We're pleased to finally see the end of useless fender vents that have become such a cliché of late. The XTS's fenders have no holes.
The twin fuel-filler doors (one per rear fender) are a concession to the plug-in powertrain that the XTS concept is supposed to have. There's one for gas and one for the electrical outlet.
Adding "Platinum" to the concept's name suggests that Cadillac intends to continue and likely broaden the super-luxury trim line that's been most popular on Escalade SUVs.
But Cadillac doesn't want to talk about the exterior so much. Indeed, it says that the XTS concept was "built from the inside out." Haven't heard that one before, have you? Well, try this one: "The interior takes inspiration from nature, specifically the intricate layer of petals that combine to form an orchid." Sorry for blowing your mind there, Chief.
While we chew on that one for awhile, know that the interior uses cool organic light-emitting diode (O-LED) displays in place of conventional gauges and screens. And so for that bit of theater, the panels are dark until the car is turned on and illuminate all manner of entertainment and information options. The rest of the interior is Cadillac's idea of what a modern, high-quality luxury cabin should look like in all its creamy-colored, gently lighted, smoky-wooded, laser-etched suede-y goodness.
Inside Line says: We liked the Sixteen better. But then, we also liked the housing bubble, before it popped anyway. — Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit