Any way you look at it, the currently-launching Cadillac XTS is not The Wreath and Crest brand’s flagship vehicle. Cadillac even says so. For starters, utilizing a front-wheel drive platform and a single V6 engine offering automatically disqualifies it from competing with the likes of market stalwarts — the Mercedes-Benz S Class and BMW 7 Series, among a few others. And the fact that the XTS is priced much lower than the German flagships eliminates the exclusivity piece of the flagship puzzle, not helping its case one bit. Even so, the XTS was never meant to be a flagship, but — in our hotly-contested opinion — just a stop-gap.
To that end, GM North America President Mark Reuss recently told Automotive news reminded us all that a new Cadillac flagship is a strong possibility as General Motors solidifies the brand’s global strategy.
“I’m a fan of going right at those segments and beating them in segment,” Reuss says. In fact, he would “love Cadillac to have a flagship”.
A rear-wheel drive-based full-size sedan would maintain GM’s strategy of positioning Cadillac as a performance-oriented luxury brand and would follow in the path set out by the ATS, which directly takes on the BMW 3 Series this summer, as well as the CTS, which will debut an all-new model for the 2014 model year, rivaling the BMW 5 Series.
Ultimately, the only way in which a Caddy flagship could become reality is if General Motors executives decide that it’s the best way to use the automaker’s resources, which CEO Dan Akerson recently pegged at a healthy $8 billion annually.
“The way we’re funding Cadillac has been from, sort of, everything else in GM,” Reuss said. In effect, this results in “very reduced scale in terms of individual architectures, engines, technology” for Cadillac. “We have to make very careful decisions,” he concludes.
The GM executive team has already made many of these decisions, including the resolve to develop a new body-on-frame Escalade SUV, bring the ELR extended-range plug-in electric vehicle to market next year, and grow the all-new CTS to the size of the new 5 Series. But if anything is clear at this point, it’s that The General
hasn’t yet made up its mind keeping very quiet about bringing a Cadillac flagship to market, even though GM has acquired several trademarks this month that would make fine names for such a vehicle, along with evidence suggesting development is underway.
Is GM hedging its bets? It sure seems that way.
The GM Authority Take
Cadillac needs a rear-wheel drive sport-luxury flagship. A better 7 Series, if you will… but with the soul of the new Cadillac.
PS: while you’re here, might as well check out our future Cadillac product guide.