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Is Cadillac’s Elmiraj for Real This Time?

Coupe concept offers a hint of a future Caddy flagship.

by on Aug.16, 2013

Cadillac rolls out the Elmiraj Coupe Concept.

Ever since it rolled out the stunning Sixteen show car a decade ago, Cadillac has repeatedly offered hints of what an all-new flagship might look like with a procession of sedan and convertible concepts that most recently included the Ciel two years ago.

So what to make of the new Cadillac Elmiraj, another stunning exercise – this time in coupe form – that General Motors’ luxury division drove up to Tehama, the hilltop retreat of actor Clint Eastwood, last night? Is it the long-awaited flagship or just another el mirage?

What a Concept!

The long, lean coupe – which bore some of the long-nosed DNA of the old Cadillac Sixteen – certainly got people talking, precisely what a luxury brand’s premier model is supposed to do.  And, as the maker’s advanced chief Clay Dean later told, “There’s nothing here we couldn’t do today.” But the question is one of “would,” not “could,” and the reality is that Cadillac still has not decided what its long-awaited flagship will be.  In fact, it still could be several different models.

The important thing, global design director Ed Welburn confided in us, “We have to move fast. The competition isn’t standing still.”


Cadillac Still Has Plans for Halo Car

Full-size premium model still a go; several halo alternatives under study.

by on Jul.03, 2013

The debut of the Cadillac Ciel concept led many Caddy fans to hope the maker would soon launch one or more "halo" cars.

Were Mark Twain covering the auto beat he might begin by declaring that reports of the death of Cadillac’s planned “halo” car have been greatly exaggerated.

There’ve been several widely discussed stories over the past few days suggesting that Cadillac has given up on a planned $100,000 “show-stopper,” possibly based on the Cadillac Ciel concept vehicle because General Motors bean-counters couldn’t pencil in an appropriate business case to justify the necessary investment. has been advised that, indeed, a “large luxury” model has been scrapped from the Cadillac plan. But several sources have stressed that the decision had more to do with the potential for that specific design than anything else.

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That does not impact the ongoing development of a large, rear-wheel-drive model that will sit atop the current Caddy lineup-topping XTS model. And preliminary work continues on several other possible halo vehicles that would be based off that big car’s platform.

It’s likely the luxury maker will reveal more when it unveils a large luxury concept at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August, has learned.


Caddy Considering Several “Flagships” in Expansive Product Roll-Out

At least 10 new models or major updates coming.

by on Aug.20, 2012


With the launch of the new ATS small car, Cadillac is beginning the most expansive product roll-out in its history, according to senior officials with the General Motors luxury brand – a risky but potentially lucrative effort that is likely to bring the launch of several new “flagship” models to challenge the likes of the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Designer Clay Dean with the Cadillac Ciel concept.

While Cadillac won’t try to go product-for-product with its fast-expanding German rivals, the U.S. luxury maker recognizes it has to rapidly expand its meager line-up to remain competitive.  And after years of hesitation, it appears that top GM management is finally freeing up the financial resources necessary to accomplish that long-delayed goal, has learned.

Caddy will begin to fill the various “white spaces” in its line-up over the next several years, numerous officials confirmed, speaking both on the record and on background.  That includes a much-needed compact crossover targeting one of the fastest-growing segments in the luxury market.  But one of the more surprising plans falling into place, was told, was the idea of rolling out several different flagship models that would target both “foundational” and “aspirational” niches in the premium luxury segment.

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“These are fun, happy times at Cadillac,” said Don Butler, Cadillac’s top marketing executive, during a dinner session prior to this past weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  “We’re expanding and elevating the brand.”


GM Greenlights New Cadillac Flagship

Sedan to target 7-Series segment; concept likely in early 2013.

by on Jul.23, 2012

A follow-up to the Cadillac Ciel concept, closer to the planned Caddy flagship, is due early next year.

After much internal debate General Motors has apparently agreed to give Cadillac the resources it needs to give serious chase to its European competitors, notably by approving a new 7-Series competitor that will serve as the domestic maker’s flagship sedan.

As recently reported, the new model – which will be heavily influenced by the recent Cadillac Ciel Concept – will be joined by a wide range of additional new Caddy products, including a downsized crossover and a V-Series version of the new ATS entry-luxury sedan.

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The new model will also cap Cadillac’s push to finally become a truly global brand.  Though insiders tell the Ciel-based flagship is likely to develop particularly strong demand in China, Caddy also hopes that it can provide a halo in Europe, where the brand has long struggled for traction.

The Bureau has been told that a concept version of the new premium luxury model could appear as early as next January’s Detroit Auto Show.


Caddy Considering ATS Coupe, V-Series Variants – and more.

Catching up to the imports.

by on Jun.27, 2012

Cadillac is looking at a variety of additional ATS variants for the near future, including a V-Series and possibly an ATS Coupe.


With the upcoming launch of the Cadillac ATS the once-dominant luxury brand hopes to begin the difficult task of rebuilding its once-lofty reputation and challenging such import stalwarts as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

The ATS is not only the first compact Caddy model line in three decades but the marque’s first product to offer a four-cylinder engine – two, in fact – since the dreaded Cimarron, a vehicle whose mere mention evoked reflexively painful winces during a preview of the new ATS this week.

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Specifically aimed at the luxury compact benchmark, the ATS will debut in sedan form with a choice of three powertrain packages.  But numerous Cadillac insiders revealed to that this is likely just the beginning.  An array of additional ATS variants likely will follow.  Among those under serious consideration are an ATS Coupe and the seemingly requisite V-Series version.


First Drive: 2013 Cadillac XTS

Bringing back the big American luxury car.

by on Jun.05, 2012

Cadillac gets back into the big-car game with the 2013 XTS.

The new 2013 Cadillac XTS is off to a shaky start – but that’s good news.  Cadillac’s big new sedan is introducing a variety of new high-tech features, including a “Driver Awareness Package” that  vibrates the driver’s seat to signal when there’s a potential problem ahead.

Ostensibly, the new XTS replaces the aged and largely unloved Cadillac STS and DTS models and is meant to better position the brand against the likes of the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.  The Detroit maker has stopped using the word, “flagship” to describe the new sedan, a subtle clue that an even more lavish premium-luxury model based loosely on the Ciel concept car is in the works.  But flagship or not, the XTS is going to be one very important entry into the 2013 Cadillac line-up.

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Along with the new compact ATS sedan – Caddy’s new 3-Series fighter – the bigger XTS will help flesh out what has been a relatively thin range of products.  And it should help position the one-time global luxury leader as ripe for a renaissance, as Cadillac executives like to call it.

But is the 2013 Cadillac XTS the right car to take on such a heavy load?


Cadillac ATS to Start at $33,990

Maker will have slight advantage over BMW 3-Series.

by on May.07, 2012

Cadillac's new ATS will plug a gaping hole at the bottom of the maker's line-up.

Cadillac is betting it can win entry into the hotly competitive luxury market with a mix of styling, performance and pricing, the base model of its new 2013 ATS sedan to carry a sticker of $33,990.

That’s about $2,000 less than the MSRP for the king of the compact luxury segment, the BMW 3-Series, which starts at $35,795 for the base 328i.

But as with BMW and other competitors, the Detroit maker plans to offer a wide array of options, including all-wheel-drive and a more sporty V-6, which will let buyers nudge the price tag for the 2013 Cadillac ATS all the way up into the mid-$40,000 range.

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“The ATS enters a vehicle segment this year that’s one of the most competitive in the market, from both a price and performance standpoint,” said Cadillac’s director of marketing Don Butler. “ATS will bring a distinctive presence and compelling value while offering quick, nimble, fun-to-drive dynamics that will appeal to the lifestyles of modern luxury buyers and challenge the segment’s status quo.”

Of course, Cadillac has tried that before.


Cadillac Planning Numerous Product, Concept Roll-outs in 2012 – 2013

New crossover, update of Ciel premium luxury model in mix.

by on Jan.13, 2012

Advanced designer Clay Dean's studio is busy working up new Cadillac products, including a follow-up to the ultra-luxury Ciel, shown here..

It’s been a busy few months from Cadillac, what with the L.A. Auto Show launch of the new XTS premium-luxury sedan and the introduction in Detroit of the new ATS entry-lux model.  “But we’re not getting any time off,” a senior Caddy official told during a background conversation at the Detroit Auto Show.

For his part, General Motors North America President Mark Reuss acknowledges there are a number of “open spaces” in the Cadillac line-up, and that it will be essential to fill at least some of them if the maker aims to regain a level of competitiveness against the dominant German and Japanese luxury brands, like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

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Reuss declined to discuss specifics for Cadillac’s expanded line-up, but in a series of background conversations, company officials provided an outline that hints at an aggressive new product strategy that will bring at least one, and possibly two new crossovers to market, while we will also be seeing a follow-up to the well-received Ciel super-premium luxury concept that Caddy rolled out at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance last August.


GM Likely to Give Go-Ahead to Cadillac’s Flagship Omega Project

Encouraged by strong response to Ciel concept, Caddy will get new premium-luxury sedan, along with several hybrids and other new models.

by on Aug.29, 2011

Cadillac is expecting the go-ahead to build a new flagship based on the same platform as the Ciel concept car.

General Motors is expected to give the go-ahead to Cadillac’s flagship Omega project before year-end, according to senior sources, the maker’s top management encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive reaction of the luxury division’s new Ciel concept vehicle.

It’s unclear whether a convertible or sedan version based on the big Omega platform would be first to market, but there is a clear consensus that Caddy needs a super-premium model if it is to have a chance of regaining its position as “standard to the world,” as its long-time ad slogan declared.

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Omega would be just one in a wide range of new offerings that would be added to the Cadillac line-up, officials told, helping the once-dominant marque fill in the so-called “white space” between its current model mix.  That will include not only a new plug-in hybrid – but very likely some more conventional hybrid-electric models, as well.


First Look: Cadillac Ciel Concept

“The hint of a fin,” as Cadillac goes forward into the past.

by on Aug.19, 2011

Cadillac reveals a show car that could serve up a hint of the brand's next flagship in the form of the four-door Ciel convertible.

“Retro” was definitely not a word Cadillac officials wanted to hear as they pulled the covers off the luxury division’s new Ciel Concept during a Thursday night preview.  But with what General Motors chief designer Ed Welburn described as a “hint of a fin,” the striking show car provides a vision of where Caddy might be going by touching on where it had been in a once-glorious past.

Long the leader of the luxury market, Cadillac now lags behind overseas rivals like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.  But it has begun regaining ground, in recent years, with a renewed focus on distinctive design.  And confident there’s an opportunity for growth, GM management has given Caddy the green light to add a variety of new models, including the ELR plug-in hybrid, approved just this week, as well as the small Cadillac ATS and larger XTS.

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But, “You need a flagship in your portfolio to be successful in the luxury market today,” asserted Clay Dean, the brand’s lead designer.  And the Ciel is a hint of what such a car might be.  Nearly as long as the big Cadillac Escalade sport-utility vehicle, the prototype was shown in convertible form, but if taken into production would likely also be offered as a full-sized sedan, company insiders told

The name, Ciel, is French for “sky,” and carries something of a double meaning.  There’s the reference to the convertible design but it might also suggest that the sky is the limit, as far as GM is concerned, if Caddy can pull off a true turnaround.  That would likely depend on tapping into more than just the U.S. market – even though it is the largest luxury market in the world.  The Ciel, whether in convertible or hard top form, would also be targeted at China, now the largest overall automotive market on the planet – and a place where increasingly affluent buyers have shown a distinct predilection for cars that are large and lavishly equipped.