The CT6 serves as a unique way of standing out from the sea of S-Class' and 7-series'.
People of all ages these days like to feel inspired by the image of success, and all that comes with it. New mediums within the realm of social media have allowed just about everybody to post what they’re up to, what they’ve got, or what they’ve got coming down the pipeline. It has also allowed people to carefully curate how people perceive each other, making for what some describe as a fairly shallow lifestyle to live. It’s a culture that won’t go away anytime soon, so brands in all industries have tried to hop on the train, as a result. Cadillac is no stranger to the aspirational lifestyle – one of the ways they are trying to engage this younger audience is to reach out to “influencers”. These people are (usually) young, stylish, and savvy with how they market themselves. For a brand actively trying to lower the average age of its typical buyers, it’s a decent strategy.
Gone are cars like the Seville and Deville, and replacing them are cars like the ATS and CTS. Going head-to-head with the BMW 3-Series (reviewed here) and 5-Series has allowed Cadillac to chase those younger buyers. In addition, brand awareness is up, but the other end of the lineup has been a little quiet: the high-end. The Escalade essentially is its own brand, with its own unique image. The XTS doesn’t really lend itself to driving enthusiasm, but it’s safe to assume that this wasn’t ever one of its goals. Between the XTS and CTS, there wasn’t a whole lot to anchor the flagship sedan position at Cadillac, until now: enter the CT6. We picked up the keys to a Crystal White Tricoat 2017 Cadillac CT6 Platinum, with the new twin-turbo 3.0L V6.
Style and road presence have been hallmarks of the “re-invented” Cadillac. The ATS and CTS carry themselves with their own unique swagger, so the flagship CT6 has some shoes to fill. For the most part, the CT6 does the job, firstly by being simply being so large. Built on its own platform (the GM Omega platform, for large RWD-based vehicles), the CT6 is quite a bit longer than the medium-sized CTS – by a whole 21cm. Most of that goes to the second-row, as evidenced by the long rear door. Thanks to the longitudinal engine layout, GM designers were able to move the front wheels far forward, making for a short front overhang, which is something I’ve always liked from a design and performance point-of-view. The front-end features Cadillac’s signature vertical LED light system incorporating what they call their “Indirect Fire LED” headlights.
Not only is the look of the CT6 fitting of a flagship, it’s also highly functional. The CT6 is about the size of a short-wheelbase BMW 7-Series (one of the top benchmarks in this class), but happens to be lighter than the smaller BMW 5-Series. The intensive use of aluminum (such as for all exterior body panels) and high-strength steel, yields a relatively low curb weight of 1853kg (or 4085lbs) – impressive for such a large car. The fully-loaded CT6 Platinum rides on an attractive 20-inch wheels with 245-section tires at all four corners.
The CT6 is a car that manages to wear its stylish Cadillac-tailored suit very well, but also manages to stand out with its own unique road presence. This would continue to be the theme for the remainder of the week. Its hunkered-down and sleek stance suggest that this is Cadillac (and GM) at its very best, with lots to see, inside and out. It’s not overly polarizing (which could possibly alienate its traditional customer base), but it’s also not anonymous.
Flagship luxury cars are as much about interior comfort as they are about projecting the brand’s image. The CT6 doesn’t disappoint – there are lots of features that are sure to impress, and some that are on the bleeding edge of today’s technology and engineering. Occupants at all seats are treated to top-notch materials: soft Opus-grade leather, real wood, and aluminum. The dashboard in particular, is cleanly designed: Cadillac’s CUE infotainment interface has been dramatically updated to reduce and simplify button counts, and improving how everything interacts with the driver. The main interface is a large 10.2” capacitive touchscreen, with climate control buttons below. I liked how these particular buttons return to what people expect them to be: buttons. Instead of utilizing a touch panel with haptic vibration feedback, pressing the button for the heated and cooled seats, for instance, results in a physical response that most people would be accustomed to.
The centre console is the home for another new gear selector (strangely, not shared with the new XT5), and a large laptop-style touchpad, complete with haptic feedback. Those who are familiar with Lexus’ implementation of the touchpad will be right at home here. Fortunately, the touchpad’s usage is largely optional, thanks to redundant controls by way of the touchscreen. In front of the driver, a full 12-inch LCD screen handles the entire instrument cluster, in usual Cadillac fashion. Lesser trim levels get a slightly smaller 8-inch screen and no full-colour heads-up display.
The CT6 is one of those vehicles that is designed to coddle the driver, in addition to all passengers inside. An intensive back massage function is available for all outboard seats. This isn’t just the seat adjusting its lumbar support bladders, but rather an actual massage, typically only seen in the highest-end cars. In addition to the massage, all the outboard seats are heated as well as cooled, and the rear seats can recline, independently of one another. Sunshades for the side and rear windows are included with the Platinum, as are the dual 10-inch LCD screens that rise up out of the front seatbacks. If you’re looking for a more acoustic experience, the Bose Panaray 34-speaker (yes, 34) does a decent job filling the CT6 with a massive soundstage. It’s not quite as good as the top-end Bowers & Wilkins systems out there, but it’s close. The legroom afforded by that long 3109mm wheelbase is great to really stretch out, after your massage.
One of the biggest talking points in the 2017 Cadillac CT6 Platinum is the rear view camera. That’s right: it’s a rear-view camera. Seen on the fully-loaded XT5 (reviewed here), it supplements the rear-view mirror with a camera mounted on the trunk lid. In theory, it offers many benefits: a much wider field of view, and no obstructions. The display is quick to refresh, and resolution is good during the day. Like many new technologies, there are definite quirks – how much they’ll bother you depends on your personal tastes.
Anybody who has an understanding how digital camera sensors works should understand what dynamic range is: the ability of the sensor and processor to resolve and display the range between its minimum and maximum measurable light intensity. Modern hardware has gotten pretty good at improving overall dynamic range, but limitations still exist. As such, the rear view camera becomes largely unusable at night, with darkness levels that exceed what the camera can reliably display. Thankfully, it’s easy to toggle the display off and switch to a conventional mirror. The second quirk relates to how accustomed everybody has become to using a mirror. In short, your eye’s focus point needs to dramatically change, because you’re not looking into the distance (via the mirror), but rather at the screen itself. It is progressive technology worth talking about, but I don’t think it’s something I would default to using, all the time.
The progressive design and engineering continues into the engine room. Powering the CT6 Platinum is an all-new variant of the GM High Feature V6. Displacing 3.0L, it is boosted with twin-turbos, direct-injection, and intercooling, and puts out a robust 404 horsepower at 5700RPM, and 400 lb-ft of torque from 2500-5100RPM. It sends power through a GM-built “8L90” 8-speed automatic, sending power to all four wheels. There are two more powertrains available for the CT6, depending on the trim level you choose; the base model is motivated by a 2.0L turbo-four, and GM’s updated naturally-aspirated 3.6L V6 occupies the space between.
In an era of downsized engines and forced induction, the CT6 is another to fully embrace the change, but is there something missing? Between the three (very) different powertrains, none of them features eight cylinders. The twin-turbo V6 surely boasts some impressive figures, but the torque peak in particular arrives at 2500rpm. Until you spin the engine up from idle, it just feels like a typical 3.0L V6. Once full boost hits (a turbo boost gauge is available in the configurable instrument cluster), the CT6 really leaps forward, building speed confidently through all eight gears.
One of the ideals informally agreed upon with luxury flagship cars is that luxury should be effortless. One way to achieve this effortless thrust is to utilize a V8 engine. As lazy as they can be, they simply provide more torque at the bottom of the rev range than a smaller turbocharged V6. Winding out a high-strung engine is fun in sports cars, but not so much in a top-end luxury car costing as much as this one does. Manufacturers such as BMW and Mercedes even go as far as to mildly turbocharge their V8 engines for maximum torque with minimum effort. Ride quality is excellent, and while the Magnetic Ride Control dampers magically punch well above their weight, it’s hard to beat an air suspension setup if you’re looking for the best ride quality. The CT6 does not offer an air suspension setup at this time.
Fuel efficiency is one of the big driving forces behind all this engineering. Lighter and smarter uses of materials, as well as more advanced (and smaller) engines allows for large cars to consume much less fuel than they used to. Cadillac rates the CT6 Platinum with the twin-turbo V6 at 13L/100km in the city, 9.0L/100km on the highway, and 11.2L/100km. During my week of mixed driving, I ended up with an average of 12.5L/100km. A seamless cylinder deactivation program kicks in under low loads, and idle stop-start reduces fuel consumption when you’re at a stop. Premium fuel is required with the CT6 Platinum, and the tank will hold 73L of it. What’s interesting: the base turbo-four and midrange naturally-aspirated V6 can make do with regular-grade fuel.
The Cadillac CT6 occupies a fairly large price range: the base model (2.0L turbo, RWD) starts at $61,695. You still get the excellent chassis and all that interior space, but you don’t get things like satellite navigation or a heated steering wheel. Opting for AWD means six-cylinders are the minimum, with the CT6 3.6L AWD starting at $64,020. Prices continue to climb, until you get to the top-level CT6 3.0L Twin-Turbo Platinum, at $99,670. The Crystal White Tintcoat adds $575, bringing the as-tested price up to $100,245, before taxes and additional dealer fees. Passing the $100,000 barrier represents a significant psychological barrier, and begs the question: what else is out there at $100,000?
Once you step north of the $100,000 mark, you enter into some hotly contested territory traditionally occupied by the large German sedans. However, all of them start at this price point, and adding in the options that the CT6 Platinum already has, sees the bottom-line pricing jump to at least $120,000. Lexus has been a long-time player, and have been plugging away at their own formula for Japanese luxury. The LS460 occupies the same space that the CT6 Platinum does, and once you add the Technology Package, the pricing is within two thousand dollars. It provides impeccable build quality and reliability, and comes with that all-important V8. One also needs to consider the new kids on the block: the Genesis brand and its upcoming G90 sedan (previewed here). You can also count on Genesis pricing to be fairly aggressive on the value quotient, too.
After the end of my very-comfortable week, I came away mostly impressed with the CT6 Platinum, but there are a few items that hold it back. The first is the powertrain: at this $100,000 price point, the flagship should have a V8 engine in order to keep with the traditional ideals of what luxury has been defined to be. The twin-turbo V6 is a good engine on its own, but its high-strung nature isn’t quite appropriate for the CT6. There are strong rumours swirling around the development of a twin-turbocharged 4.2L V8 that would go into the CT6 at a later date. This would be welcome news and should make things a lot more exciting, if not even more luxurious. Maybe it’ll be called the CT8. Until then, the CT6 serves as a unique way of standing out from the sea of S-Class’ and 7-Series that occupy the local private country club.