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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Cadillac Engine Strategy Evolving Alongside Luxury Buyer

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Cadillac Engine Strategy Evolving Alongside Luxury Buyer

By James M. Amend

WardsAuto.com, Jan 13, 2010 8:00 AM

DETROIT – The return of the 4-cyl. car at Cadillac may not be too far off, General Manager Bryan Nesbitt suggests.

“Let’s ask the question,” Nesbitt tells Ward’s in an interview at the North American International Auto Show here. “Let’s find out.”

Cadillac’s last 4-cyl. model was the Cimarron, a Chevrolet-derived, entry-level compact badged with the Wreath & Crest between 1981 and 1988. The Cimarron is blamed for helping drag down Cadillac’s image, sending the brand into a tailspin from which it still has not fully recovered.

But at this week’s Detroit auto show, the marque takes a big step in downsizing with the XTS Platinum concept. The top-of-the-line 4-door sedan combines GM’s award-winning 3.6L V-6 with the auto maker’s next-generation 2-mode plug-in hybrid system.

Even by today’s standard for downsizing, where the U.S. trails the rest of the world, a 3.6L V-6 for a fullsize Cadillac is quite a jump down the displacement ladder. But to hear Nesbitt speak, perhaps Cadillac could have gone smaller.

“The question is, what is the (luxury customer’s) threshold,” Nesbitt offers. “This is a test well.

“It is understanding what they feel is tolerable or smart, and still in their mind a luxury proposition,” he adds. “Could you do a 2.0L twin-turbo? Could you boost a smaller powerplant? To me it makes a lot of sense, but will the customer be interested?”

Luxury customers looking for efficient, smart solutions, Nesbitt says.

Enter the ATS, a compact luxury offering Cadillac will target against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series. GM confirms the car but offers no timetable, although it is widely expected within two years.

Nesbitt also plays the ATS’s potential powertrain combinations close the vest – Cadillac could go big, it could go small, he says coyly. But his description of what GM might offer with the ATS hints heavily at a 4-cyl.

“Ultimately, we are very interested in delivering something to the customer that is very agile, (with) very light and nimble driving dynamics,” he says, adding luxury customers are becoming increasingly oriented to downsized engines.

“It really is amazing to me, no matter who you talk to in the luxury segment, how interested they are in efficiency,” he says. “Yet, it’s not an economic value. They don’t look at it that way. It is the relevance of efficiency, making the smartest solution, and that’s what’s interesting.”

link:

http://wardsauto.com/ar/cadillac_engine_strategy_100113/

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Nesbitt claiming that downsized engines are the way of the future is an excuse for Cadillac not having a new V8 or even a twin turbo V6 like Lincoln. Mercedes, BMW, Audi all have 10 and/or 12 cylinder engines. Why spend $50-60k on a Cadillac that has the same engine as a $28,000 Buick or Chevy?

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Why spend $50-60k on a Cadillac that has the same engine as a $28,000 Buick or Chevy?

Maybe because people fork over tons of cash for Audi's that share engines and a platform with a Golf?

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Why do people even need super huge engines? The idea is lame to me.

I think the reason may rhyme with 'Heinous Ties'.

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Super huge engines of 6 or so liters isn't needed, although GM makes more of them than anyone else. But powerful and refined engines are needed for luxury cars. A boosted 4-banger isn't going to be smooth and refined, the power can jerk in and out with the turbo lag.

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Why do people even need super huge engines? The idea is lame to me.

I can't resist James that this thought comes from an Aston Martin fan :duck:

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I can't resist James that this thought comes from an Aston Martin fan :duck:

I am impressed with an Aston Martin because it is exclusive and looks great. I don't care that they can go a million MPH.

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What is so smart about having an underpowered luxury car? I wonder what kind of direct feedback GM is getting about the XTS powertrain setup.

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Maybe because people fork over tons of cash for Audi's that share engines and a platform with a Golf?

The A3 costs tons of cash?

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Maybe because people fork over tons of cash for Audi's that share engines and a platform with a Golf?

The A3 is the only Audi that shares a VW platform. The only other Audi sedan that shares a VW engine is the A4 with the 2.0T, but still has the 3.2L as an option. The competitor to the XTS would be the A6, which has a 3.0T and a 4.2L V8 available. And Audi isn't even at the top of the luxury car class. People fork over tons of cash for the 5 series and S class, which don't share engines with brands equivalent to Chevy. Audi doesn't share any platforms and engines with brands equivalent to Chevy either, since VW is a step above Chevy.

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What is so smart about having an underpowered luxury car? I wonder what kind of direct feedback GM is getting about the XTS powertrain setup.

Since when is 350hp and gobs of torque at low RPM underpowered?

The Lacrosse CXS isn't even underpowered at 280hp.

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People tend to forget the cars of yore that weighed just as much if not more and had 140HP or around that numbers.

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GM needs to spend time testing these waters with Buick, not Cadillac.

The only problem with this is, Buick's buyer dynamics are way different than Cadillac. People will appreciate the hybrid powertrain. I bet when somebody drives it, they don't even realize it is a V6.

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The vast majority of people who buy luxury automobiles buy them for the status. If you can afford a $70,000 car, you can afford the gas (inefficacy) that goes along with it. There will always be people who see a V6 in the Cadillac flagship as a natural evolution of the luxury segment, but for many there will never be any replacement for displacement. People pay hundreds or even thousands for show off their cars with rims, customized interiors and special editions, it should be no surprise that people will also buy costly V8 engines just for the status. While I love Lincoln's turbo V6, lets not forget the bad stigma that turbos have in the U.S thanks to the 1980's.

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Ford is doing an excellent job so far of reversing the turbo perception.

I wish someone, anyone but I'd prefer GM do it, drill into the minds of the American public that an electric motor is able to exhibit it's most powerful force at standstill.

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Ford is doing an excellent job so far of reversing the turbo perception.

I wish someone, anyone but I'd prefer GM do it, drill into the minds of the American public that an electric motor is able to exhibit it's most powerful force at standstill.

Not to mention BMW who offers several models w/ turbo 6s... the perception of turbos by some is the same as the perception of diesels, outdated.

I want a turbo diesel V6 or V8 w/ a manual in a large American RWD car. Not going to happen, but it would be great.

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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If Cadillac is saying smaller engines is the way to go, why does the Escalade have a 6.2 liter V8 that gets 12 mpg city? Why doesn't the Escalade have a 3.6 liter V6 or have front wheel drive for that matter? But if that was the case, it wouldn't sell for $65,000, it would sell for the prices the Enclave sells for. Rear drive with the big V8 allows Cadillac to jack up the price.

I am all for a luxury car offing a diesel V6 or a hybrid V6, especially for cars that will see Limo/hearse/taxi duty or sit in NYC or London traffic and never go fast, then a fuel saver engine makes sense. BUT, those luxury cars still have to offer the V8, V10, V12 mega engines, because it builds status and some buyers want the ultimate in performance and luxury. This is what makes the S-class the best flagship sedan in the world, you can get a 35 mpg diesel engine, or a 600 hp V12 and anything in between.

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350 hp is not underpowered for a narrow little Epsilon II sedan, I guess I was referring to the fact that a lot of people will not take into account the extra complication and expense of the electric assist for the 3.6L, they'll only see it says "V6" and that will end their interest in it.

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turbos are gaining acceptance. i think their reliability is improving. keep in mind, most folks are basing their turbo opinions on the 80's chryslers or recent vw's.

boi is right the ford ecoboost is really changing people's perception. remember, DI helps turbo a lot.

i think if caddy is really in the hurtbag for development cash, the best thing would be to make the DI 3.6 the workhorse, and the twin turbo a popular upgrade.

i think they could work 4 cyl turbos in on the base ATS. v6 option.

i think a v8 is still required. cadillac / gmc / zeta / corvette could each offer a variation of an all new v8 DOHC and they could amortize it. share the engine with another automaker if need be. GM needs at least one DOHC non pushrod v8. it could be special edition in the corvette, escalade, gmc trucks, zetas, caddies.

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The A3 costs tons of cash?

My way, the MSRP for the A3starts at over 32K for the base model wagon, which has the four cylinder and a stick. It's a great car, but it's still a relatively gussied up Golf/Rabbit which costs considerably less, even when loaded with goodies.

The A3 is the only Audi that shares a VW platform. The only other Audi sedan that shares a VW engine is the A4 with the 2.0T, but still has the 3.2L as an option. The competitor to the XTS would be the A6, which has a 3.0T and a 4.2L V8 available. And Audi isn't even at the top of the luxury car class. People fork over tons of cash for the 5 series and S class, which don't share engines with brands equivalent to Chevy. Audi doesn't share any platforms and engines with brands equivalent to Chevy either, since VW is a step above Chevy.

So what's the problem? Plenty of people buy 2.0T A4's, so why can't Cadillac sell a possible ATS with a turbo-4 or even a CTS equipped with one? Who cares if Audi isn't on the top of luxury heap? They're still regarded as a prestige brand and one of Caddy's competitors. Plus, Vee Dub is 'Chevy' to a good chunk of the planet, and I don't think Europeans are poo-poo'ing A3's based on their 'plebian' roots.

The previous generation Mercedes C-Class had a four, and that sold pretty well. How about the IS-250 with it's tiny V6? Obviously, there's a market for premium/high-end cars with efficient offerings. I'll bet that when gas prices hike up again, BMW and Mercedes will be churning out four-bangers, and will likely be showered with praise for it.

As for the XTS, the 3.6L in it has a mountain of power. No, there's no V8, but who needs one when the V6 is churning out 350HP and is mated to a hybrid powertrain? Also, it's a concept, plenty can change in the span of a couple years.

Anyhow, what exactly is the problem about platform and engine sharing? John Q Public buys Acura's based on Accords and Lexus' that are fancy Camry's. Save for us car enthusiasts, nobody really cares, as long as the car is tailored for the audience, and that's what Caddy intends to do. Who, besides a few people around here really care if Cadillac shares engines or platforms with Chevy? The 3.6L that is used in a ton of GM's offerings is garnering plenty of praise, especially in its Camaro and CTS implementations. Nissan's excellent 3.5 is used in the Altima, the G35, all the way up to the Infiniti M35, and I don't hear anyone kvetching.

Edited by FAPTurbo
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Hyundai, I repeat Hyundai, was able to build an all new, in house, DOHC V8 that gets used in 2 low volume sedans. They figured out how to do it, but Cadillac can't? What is desirable about a 350 hp V6 when everyone else has a V8. I can go buy a 350 hp V6 now in the Lincoln MKS, yet it isn't lighting up the sales charts. Cadillac in 2 years is going to offer what Lincoln has now.

On small cars like the C-class or IS that offer small engines, yes there is a market for that, and in a 3400 lb car, 225 hp is very adequate, but the C-class, 3-series, and IS also offer DOHC V8s.

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