There’s been a lot of talk going around about how Cadillac is “reinventing itself” as a brand. And with the move to New York City, hatching plans for unique powertrains, its own financial team, and new product entries never before seen by Cadillac, it certainly seems the case. A bit too hard to swallow, for some.
Meanwhile, there’s the new “Dare Greatly” campaign, which states: “how dare a 112-year old automaker reinvent itself?” And then comes a blurred teaser of Cadillac’s highly anticipated big car, the 2016 CT6.
All the smoke and mirrors aside, all the new marketing and all the new business plans aside, it comes down to product. And there’s nothing “reinventing” about a big Cadillac sedan. But that’s just fine, because Cadillac has been historically known and recognized for its big cars, and even seems to be measured by them. One could even argue that Cadillac has lost the way because its full-size vehicles slipped from relevance. In other words, the Cadillac brand has been completely parched for a world-class large luxury sedan, and as a correlation, brand equity has slipped. Finally, with the CT6, the 112-year old brand seems to have its tall glass of significance in the full-size sedan market. And it feels so natural.
The 2016 Cadillac CT6 is important because it calls the brand home. It calls Cadillac home because without a meaningful large car, Cadillac has been a ship with no hull. It has a sail with the V-Series cars, a captain’s chamber with the Escalade, a lower deck with the ATS, a mast with the CTS, and even a poop deck with the SRX. But nothing to really piece all of them together — no centerpiece, no nucleus — because each of those models lacked foundation relevant to the heritage of Cadillac. These days, with so much exposure, media, lack of privacy and records-keeping, it’s next to impossible for anything — brands, companies and people alike — to forget where they came from. Cadillac has no deep roots in crossovers. It has no deep roots in compact sedans. Or even mind-blowing performance cars, as seen with the outstanding V-Series line. But big luxury cars? You bet your bottom paper dollar.
To wit, Mercedes-Benz, a world-class luxury brand with a vehicle depth chart that makes even mainstream automakers blush, isn’t measured by the kind of crossover it can build, or the random AMG Black model offering with 5,000 lb-ft of torque (or somewhere in that ballpark). Rather, people seem to measure Mercedes by the S-Class it can build — the apparent everlasting standard for large luxury sedans. Meanwhile, BMW isn’t measured in the same light. It’s measured by how good its 3 Series and M vehicles are with each rollout. Not so much its large cars, like Benz. Audi, however, celebrates its Quattro technology across the board, and is measured by how good it can apply all-wheel-drive in relation to the competition. Then there’s Porsche, which is constantly graded by the 911 and nothing else. It’s nearly impossible to imagine any of these automakers without their signature products.
It’s easy to see that every successful brand has that one thing that makes it special. For Cadillac, it’s always been the big ones. And it shows with the anticipation of the CT6. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning of the 112-year-old brand’s rediscovery, and, for its own sake, there are many more large Cadillacs to come.