There is widespread agreement across the industry that Cadillac needs a proper, rear-drive flagship sedan that completes legitimately with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series.
Fortunately, the same view is held within the company, and just such a car – possibly dubbed LTS – is under development. According to a high-level source at Cadillac, the new four-door, which is said to incorporate design cues from the marque's celebrated Elmiraj coupe concept, will debut at the New York Auto Show next April.
If the car needs a cheerleader, surely incoming president Johan de Nysschen is just such a person. De Nysschen doesn't arrive at Cadillac until late in the month, but certainly he will want a proper flagship to do battle with his old foes at Mercedes-Benz and BMW and old friends at Audi and Infiniti.
Autoblog's Cadillac insider dismisses today's large XTS front-drive sedan as a placeholder, and not a "real" Cadillac. The new car, in contrast, will be an honest contender against the entrenched competition, he promised.
However, the incredible new S-Class set the competitive bar much higher than anticipated, he conceded. "I didn't think they still had it in them to build such a car."
Nevertheless, Cadillac's new car will meet the challenge of the new Mercedes, he insists. Certainly the excellence of Cadillac's recent new cars suggests that the company knows how to compete with
the Germans, so there is no reason to believe that it can only build excellent compact and mid-size sport/luxury cars. And a recent conversion to the religion of low mass should assist Cadillac in its quest to deliver world-class driving dynamics along with comfort.
Inside, Cadillac advocates continue to battle entrenched bureaucracy that requires that cars' retail prices yield a certain profit margin, an approach that makes it impossible for a company that needs to re-earn its credibility to make headway using prices that are lower than those of the established competitors. This is why some General Motors cars lack content that would be expected in their segment; such content would either erode the hallowed margin or push the sticker price too high. Engineers' insistence on proper equipment in Cadillac products has pushed their list prices upward.
The solution, to help re-establish the brand, is to allow lower profit margins on cars design to recruit new customers to the brand. Other luxury marques are willing to lose money on certain halo vehicles for the same purpose. "I guarantee you the Audi R8 and BMW i8 have never made a profit," said our source.
Whatever the outcome, we now know when we will learn the result: When the new sedan debuts in New York.