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LA show: Cadillac’s new flagship

Unveiled: GM North America president and former GM Holden chief Mark Reuss presenting the XTS at the LA show.

Cadillac presents its new XTS luxury sedan at LA, but Australia still off the agenda

18 Nov 2011

CADILLAC used this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show to present one of two all-new models it will introduce in North America next year, but neither will form the basis of another attempt to launch the General Motors luxury brand in Australia any time soon.

The 2013 XTS – Cadillac’s first all-new large luxury sedan in more than a decade – will hit the US market in the second quarter of 2012.

It will be followed on sale there later next year by the brand’s first genuine rival to BMW’s 3 Series, the all-new ATS mid-size sedan.

The 2008 global financial crisis short-circuited GM’s last attempt to introduce the 110-year-old Cadillac brand to Australia at the 11th hour, forcing the handful of CTS mid-size sedans already imported to be shipped off to New Zealand, where they were sold in a matter of days and have now become somewhat collectible.

Instead, Australia will be part of the global expansion of GM’s European brand, Opel, which will launch in Australia next October with the light-size Corsa and small Astra hatchbacks, and the mid-size Insignia range.

The local arrival of GM’s ‘near-premium’ Opel brand, flat demand for luxury cars worldwide and an unhealthy US currency have now conspired to keep Cadillac away from Australian shores for the foreseeable future.

“While operating in two different segments, XTS and ATS have one shared objective: to win in the intensively competitive global luxury market, not just compete,” said GM North America president and former GM Holden chief Mark Reuss in presenting the XTS in LA.

163 center imageAsked if the new ATS and XTS could bookend the CTS in another attempt to launch Cadillac in Australia, Mr Reuss said: “None of those decisions with what we do with Cadillac internationally have really been made yet because we’re starting with the foundation of the car.

“We really have to see some demand from whatever country we go into before we start pumping the cars in like we did with SRX.

“We knew the Chinese would be really excited about the car – the size of it and everything else – and we really can’t make enough for them right now.

“So that’s the sort of thing we want to see before we make any more announcements about where we want to go.”

Mr Reuss said the Cadillac’s global future – including in Australia – was indefinitely on hold until it had the right products and economic conditions.

“We have to wait and see. The whole exchange piece of this is really unusual right now, so when you want to base business on exchange rates it’s a very difficult business proposition, and it’s also about the type of cars we produce and waiting until we see the demand.”

Billed as the ‘new formula for luxury’, the XTS is claimed to herald a new era of luxury and technology for the iconic US brand, by being the most technologically advanced production car in Cadillac’s history.

It will hit US roads by mid-2012 powered by a 224kW/358Nm version of Holden’s 3.6-litre direct-injection petrol V6, which will initially send power to all four wheels via a Haldex on-demand AWD system and six-speed automatic transmission, although cheaper front-drive versions will be added to the range later.

The XTS is about as big as a Holden Caprice and comes with 1016mm of rear legroom – which Cadillac points out is 100mm more than a BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-class, while being about 50mm more than the Audi A6 and comparable to larger sedans.

Measuring 5131mm long, 1851mm wide, 1501mm high, riding on a 2837mm wheelbase and weighing 1812kg (AWD: 1896kg), the XTS comes with a Ford Falcon-like 509 litres of boot space, which Caddy claims exceeds all the medium and large sedans from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

It rides on 19-inch wheels (20-inch items will be optional), HiPer Strut front suspension, rear air suspension and the same Magnetic Ride Control technology as seen in brands including HSV, Audi and Ferrari, which Cadillac touts as the world’s fastest-acting suspension.

Brakes are supplied by Brembo and cutting-edge features will include adaptive cruise control – which operates from standstill, effectively allowing drivers simply to steer the vehicle, even in stop-start traffic – head-up display, lane departure warning, blind-sport warning, Ford-style capless refuelling and ‘Safety Alert Seat’, which vibrates either the left or right side of the driver’s seat base “depending on the location of the impending concern”.

The ATX will also debut Cadillac’s new infotainment system, CUE (Cadillac User Experience), which is claimed to combine intuitive design with industry-first controls for information and media data, and will be introduced to other Cadillac models including the ATS next year.

Similar in concept to the new driver interface seen in the new Lexus GS, CUE allows drivers to configure both the eight-inch centre console screen and the massive optional 12.3-inch instrument panel, which can be viewed in four selectable themes, ranging from “minimal to extensive information”.

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