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New York show: Aussie heads Cadillac design reinvention

Big boy: Cadillac’s new CT6 becomes the GM luxury marque’s new sedan flagship.

Cadillac CT6 gets a bit of Aussie large-car nous as GM’s luxury brand steps up


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2 Apr 2015

AMERICA’S all-new large luxury car, the Cadillac CT6, was designed by a team led by Australian Andrew Smith.

The former Holden stylist – best known in Australia for penning the VU Holden Ute – was given the task of bringing Cadillac design into the 21st century to help take the fight up to the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Jaguar.

Appointed Cadillac and Buick Global Design executive director in 2013, Mr Smith today described the CT6 design as the next step in Cadillac’s brand portfolio, adding that it reinforced the agility of General Motors’ new lightweight rear-drive architecture.

“This is a car designed for passionate drivers,” he said. “CT6 is low, wide and sleek, which is just what you’d expect in a lightweight performance sedan.

“There is a great dash-to-axle proportion that reinforces the dynamics of the rear-wheel-drive architecture.”

Mr Smith said the “face” of Cadillac had evolved through new executions of the CT6’s grille and lighting elements, with the latter featuring new LED “blades” that frame the front of the vehicle.

The new Cadillac is said to get a “bold, elegant and spacious interior” using “authentic materials”.

“Never before has such craftsmanship and technology been so seamlessly interwoven,” Mr Smith said. “The CT6 represents our next step in the continuing evolution of the Cadillac brand portfolio.”

Built on GM’s all-new Omega rear-drive platform that uses a large percentage of aluminium and exotic materials to cut weight, the new Cadillac sedan flagship marks the start of an $12 billion, eight-model product development assault by GM to lift Cadillac to a global luxury brand that, if Cadillac executives get their way, with include Australia after 2020.

GM described the new architecture as one of the world’s lightest and most agile full-sized body structures, delivering spaciousness on par with the BMW 7 Series but with less weight than a 5 Series.

GM claims the body is about 99kg lighter than a steel equivalent while also stiffer than either the 5 Series or Audi A6.

163 center imageLeft: Cadillac and Buick global design executive director Andrew Smith.Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen said the company had reinvented the approach to structural underpinnings in the quest to develop a unique formula for the prestige luxury performance sedan.

“Melding that new approach with the dynamics conveyed in our other award-winning rear-driven sedans – including V-Series – results in something that has been lost in the segment: the exhilaration of a true driver’s car,” he said.

The new architecture is certain to deliver a number of other models in the GM range, some of which might make it to Australia to replace high-performance Commodores and Caprices once local production ends.

At 5182mm long, the CT6 is just 22mm longer than the existing Holden Caprice and roughly the same width.

The CT6 brings an exciting new addition to the GM powertrain line-up in the shape of an all-new 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 banging out 298kW of power and 543Nm of torque.

Apart from delivery power at the rate of almost 100kW per litre, the V6 also watches its fuel consumption by applying the first cylinder-deactivation system on a turbo V6.

Apart from the V6, the engine line-up includes a new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder and a 250kW version of GM’s 3.6-litre normally aspirated V6, all mated with GM’s newly developed eight-speed automatic.

The chassis includes active rear-wheel steering and magnetic ride control, as employed by Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) models.

The front suspension is a high-arm multilink short-long arm arrangement made largely of aluminium, while the rear set-up is five-link independent suspension that uses multiple outer ball joints and cross braces for optimal handling and steering precision.

CT6 V6 variants include an active-on-demand all-wheel-drive system for improved traction.

The CT6 will be built in the US from late this year. Later, it will also go into production in China.

Former Holden designer Mr Smith is not the first Australian to put his stamp on American luxury cars, with his former colleague Max Wolff also having a hand in designs for both Cadillac and rival Lincoln in recent years.

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