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Cadillac hints at future design direction with Escala

Long shot: The Cadillac Escala concept measures 5347mm long, and could overtake the CT6 as Cadillac’s halo car if it went into production.

Escala concept could sit above recently-released flagship CT6 in Cadillac line-up

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23 Aug 2016

By ROBBIE WALLIS

CADILLAC has used the Concors d’Elegance at Pebble Beach to preview its Escala concept that reveals a new direction for the American company’s previously polarising design language, penned under the guidance of Australian expat Andrew Smith.

If the Escala makes it into production, it would likely supersede the current flagship model in Cadillac’s line-up, the recently-released CT6.

Built on the same rear-wheel-drive architecture as the CT6, the four-door liftback sedan is powered by a 4.2-litre twin-turbo V8 – a bigger engine than the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 powering the top-spec CT6.

At 5347mm long, the Escala is 163mm longer than the CT6 giving it a rakish look and a serious level of presence, something that Cadillac has become synonymous with over the years.

Its layout and size would put it close to an Audi A7, Mercedes-Benz CLS or Porsche Panamera in terms of style.

Cadillac global president Johan de Nysschen said that the Escala design would herald a new direction for Cadillac models in the future.

“Escala is a concept with two clear objectives,” he said. “First, Escala is a statement of intent for the next iteration of the Cadillac design language, and also technical concepts in development for future Cadillac models.

“Secondly, Escala builds Cadillac’s aspirational character, signaling the brand’s return to the pinnacle of premium.”

The design is a departure from Cadillac’s vertically-oriented headlights, with narrow, horizontal units teamed with a thin vertical strip of OLED lights along the lower edges of the front fascia that wrap around towards the middle of the front bumper.

The new style of headlight is accompanied by the more traditional wide front grille, monochrome badge and 22-inch rims with layered spokes.

The rear design features a smooth, minimalist rear end with Y-shaped rear headlights similar to those on the Elmiraj coupe, a concept revealed at Pebble Beach in 2013.

The interior features a simple, uncluttered design using a combination of cloth, leather and wood, with the instrument cluster being made up of three separate curved OLED screens.

Cadillac is also looking to preview its future in connectivity, with the Escala featuring technologies such as voice and gesture control, with all tactile functions accessible through one of the OLED screens.

Cadillac Global Design executive director and Australian native Andrew Smith said the Escala gave his designers a chance to bend the rules when it comes to interior design.

“My brief to the designers was to create a car you desperately want to drive, and also one in which you want to be driven,” he said.

“So rather than a single design, this interior consists of two themes. It was an opportunity for our designers to break the rules a little bit, exactly what Cadillac should do from time to time.”

The back row features a pair of tablet-style screens that drop down from the inside of the front headrests, while lighting is ample thanks to a long, unbroken panoramic glass roof covering all occupants.

There has been no word as of yet whether the Escala will make it to production or whether it will be doomed to die as a concept only.

Cadillac was due to return to the Australian market in 2009, however the operation was suspended indefinitely just weeks before the range-opening CTS was due to go on sale, with General Motors head honchos citing economic instability in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.

However at the launch of the CT6 in April 2015, Mr de Nysschen said that he was looking to expand Cadillac’s global presence, and following a push into China, could try to break into right-hand-drive markets such as Australia.

“(Expansion into the Chinese market) will keep us busy for a few years but come the other side of 2020 I think we then need to start looking at other markets and of course including Europe, and you cannot play in Europe without being in the UK.

“That means you also need right-hand drive. If you want to invest in generating right-hand driver variants of your cars, you will never finance it with UK volume alone. So where else do we find right-hand drive volume? Japan, Australia, South East Asia and South Africa.”

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