Cadillac is looking to go topless. Years after abandoning its last drop-top, the domestic luxury maker is reportedly developing a new convertible that will be part of a wave of new products coming to market by mid-decade.
The Detroit maker is apparently opting for a soft-top, rather than the more heavy, complicated – and expensive – folding metal roof that a number of makers, including BMW and Volkswagen, have been adopting.
As TheDetroitBureau.com reported earlier this week, convertible sales have plunged precipitously in recent years, from 247,519 in 2005 to 112,914 just four years later. Ford has seen demand for the Mustang ragtop drop from 25% of the pony car’s overall sales to just 13% lately. But there are signs of a ragtop renaissance.
Convertible sales rose 9% last year, to 122,949 – though that was below the overall U.S. market recovery – and a forecast by consulting firm IHS anticipates the segment’s volume will reach 223,224 by 2015, about the time Caddy goes al fresco.
There had been some talk of stripping the roof off the striking CTS Coupe, but that approach was apparently abandoned in favor of a more ground-up design that doesn’t need extensive shoring up to maintain the convertible’s body dynamics.
Several sources confirm a report in Car & Driver that Cadillac’s convertible will use the new Alpha platform, rather than the revised Sigma “architecture” now used for the maker’s most popular offering, the CTS. Alpha will serve as the underpinnings of Caddy’s new entry-level model, tentatively codenamed ATS. The convertible would be slightly larger than that compact model, however, apparently to provide for a functional back seat and cargo compartment.
Why not use the Sigma platform? Because Caddy is moving that up-market, closer to the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, as part of a broader brand repositioning. The long-anticipated XTS, meanwhile, will take on the likes of the 7-Series, S-Class and Audi A8.
Cadillac has long tried to expand its appeal abroad and the ATS is a critical step in that direction. The new convertible will likely also be marketed internationally. That would all but certainly require the availability of both a 4-cylinder powertrain and even a diesel. A V6, most likely the direct injection package available in the current CTS is a likelihood, as well. And, in keeping with the maker’s push for performance, few will be surprised if Caddy offers a V-edition convertible, as well.
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