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First Look: Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

Bye, bye V8 power. Hello plug-in hybrid, and shared platform.

by on Jan.12, 2010

Another attempt to take competitors at the the heart of the Euro luxury market.

Cadillac has revealed its XTS Platinum Concept at the 2010 North American International Auto Show with much marketing hype and jargon, and barely a nod that the idea goes all the way back to the Catera of three decades ago and subsequent failed or weak forays into the European luxury segment.

XTS  looks to be a more promising attempt to take on the Germans.  But a lot can happen between now and next year when it will likely appear as a 2012 model.

XTS is  a so-called “five meter” car, as was the Catera, about the size of current STS or just over 200 inches in overall length, once considered the the optimum size for a European luxury car before BMW and Mercedes upped the ante with super-sided S-class and 7-series behemoths.

Cadillac has for the moment apparently abandoned plans for a new generation of rear-wheel-drive cars, and the XTS is derived from GM epsilon front-drive platform. Its a cautious design that is derived from the Cadillac 16 with its styling forms adopted to the different proportions, according to Robert Lutz.

Lutz says that the arts and science form language will continue to evolve but the edge line and prominent grille are keepers. Lutz told The Detroit Bureau that Cadillac understands the need to differentiate itself from other luxury brands, a work that is still very much in process.

As with the current Platinum Edition products, such as Escalade Platinum and the STS or DTS Platinum sedans, (all aging designs that need replacing with much more efficient and more exciting machines), XTS Platinum is over-stuffed with electronic technology, notably touch-screens that take control of vehicle systems far beyond the controversial navigation systems now common for their  role in deadly driver distraction accidents.

Cadillac and other makers are betting that customers will happily abandon traditional buttons, switches and knobs for touch screens, a potentially dubious assumption given the age of  Cadillac buyers and the problems with touch screens. Try  one with gloves on  for instance.

Nonetheless, the concept is the next generation mid-level sedan from Cadillac as GM continues internal debates about doing a huge new flagships car where in markets –  such as China — it’s thought that size does matter.

In addition, in keeping with every luxury marque’s need for fuel economy credits as the 2016 35.5 mpg standard looms near, at least one version of what remains a  large car will come as a plug-in hybrid.

The big sedan also will be without a V8 engine, using instead a smallish V6 powerplant, a nod to the inevitable demise of the V8 engine, which for six decades defined American automotive excellence, but now in a world of encroaching CO2 limits looks more like decadence.