Just one question: how is Cadillac competing with the vehicles pictured below?
The short answer is that it’s competing with them with its compact ATS. To an extent, that answer would be correct.
But the more involved reply is that Cadillac should compete better by offering a sports appearance package on the ATS.
More Than Just Black-Out
Late last year, we opined that Cadillac should offer a “black out” appearance package to better serve customers who want less chrome bits on their vehicles. Then, our rationale was that the popularity of such black out appearance packages is on the rise, with BMW, Audi and even Lexus all offering the chrome-delete packages.
We’d still like to see Cadillac offer black-out packages on all of its vehicles. But the sports appearance package we’d like to discuss here take that a step further.
The proposition is simple: offer an optional appearance package that offers a more aggressive appearance.
We’ve done a bunch of thinking and a lot of research as well. But, just like the theory, the reasoning is also quite simple and is made up of two primary reasons:
- A growing number of today’s modern luxury car buyers want vehicles that help them stand out from the crowd. Sporty appearance packages achieve precisely that.
- The competition is already offering these kinds of packages to their buyers. Cadillac isn’t, putting it at a significant competitive disadvantage that ultimately negatively impacts sales.
Speaking of a competition disadvantage, let’s have a look at what the competition is offering.
Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport Package – $2,175 option:
- AMG body styling
- 18-inch AMG 5-spoke wheels
- Sport-tuned suspension
- Perforated front brakes with painted calipers
- Sport interior
- Sport steering wheel
- Topstitched MB-Tex upper dash trim
- Brushed aluminum pedals
Audi A4 S-Line with Sport Plus Package – $2,500 option:
- 19” 5-arm-Rotor-design Titanium wheels with 255/35 summer tires*
- Black optic exterior trim
- Black cloth headliner
- Three-spoke flat-bottom multifunction sport steering wheel
- Four-way power lumbar adjustment
- Audi drive select
- Sport suspension
- Sport front seats
- Note that the Sport Plus Package is the $2,500 option, since the S-Line appearance package is now standard on all A4s since the 2014 model year
Lexus IS250 F Sport – $3,585 option:
- F SPORT front fascia
- F SPORT grille
- F SPORT 18-inch split five-spoke alloy wheels
- F SPORT-tuned suspension
- LFA-inspired gauges
- Aluminum pedals
- Black headliner
- Bolstered sport seats
- Perforated leather-trimmed shift knob
- Perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel
- Silver performance interior
Cadillac’s chief rival, BMW, takes this concept a step above the rest and offers two individual packages on the popular 3 Series, with one being more aggressive than the other.
BMW 3 Series Sport Line – $2,500 option:
- 18” Light Alloy Wheel Double-spoke Style
- Multifunction, Sport Leather steering wheel
- Black high-gloss kidney grille
- Anthracite headliner
- Sport i-cluster instrument panel
- Black high-gloss exterior trim
BMW 3 Series M Sport Line – $3,400 option:
- 18” star-spoke 400M wheels
- M steering wheel
- Aerodynamic kit
- Anthracite headliner
- Sport instrument cluster panel
- Shadowline exterior trim
The goal is to give buyers the option of making their “mainstream” luxury car look even better than it already does in stock form by adding more aggressive bits from the go-fast models such as the Mercedes-Benz AMG, BMW M, Audi RS, and Lexus F vehicles. In fact, some of the vehicles of competitors look just like their high-performance variants of the same model. The only thing they lack are the more potent powertrains.
The way we see it, Cadillac could go two ways to bring this to market, in a way mirroring what BMW offers:
The first involves offering the parts it offers as official accessories, which very few buyers know about, as a bundled package installed on the vehicle at the factory. The second involves taking things to another level by offering the body kit from the ATS-V.
We’ve taken the liberty of imagining what equipment such vehicles would have, how much they would cost, and how they would look.
Option 1 – “ATS Sport Appearance Pack” $2,500:
- Black chrome mesh upper and lower grilles
- Spoiler kit
- Black rear bumper fascia molding
- Ground effects
- 19-inch double-five spoke black wheels
- Except for the grilles, all of these items are offered today as individual accessories. All Cadillac would need to do is bundle them together as a single package installed on vehicles during production
Option 2 – “V Appearance Pack” – $3,500:
- Literally, the appearance of the ATS-V, perhaps without the hood air extractor
Where do we even begin? This is a no-lose proposition with benefits to the customer and to Cadillac.
- Not everyone wants a ton of power in their luxury car; but they want their car to look like it means business
- Allows customers to get a vehicle they want without having to deal with buying and installing individual accessories, even if it’s through a dealer
- Add those up and watch customer satisfaction notch up a point or two
- Charge more, make more
- Gain higher customer satisfaction
- Enjoy more attention from observers on the street (hey, that Cadillac looks sick, bro!)
- Elevate brand reputation
- Sell more cars
And though we’re specifically referring to the ATS family here, the appearance package concept we’ve presented here can be applied across the board to pretty much any Cadillac in production today.
A Matter Of When
All in all, Cadillac has gotten so many things right with the ATS (and CTS). In many ways, it has gotten many of the difficult things, such as driving dynamics and lightweighting, spot on. But the go-to-market strategy, specifically as it relates to vehicle customization, is nearly non-existent for both vehicles. After all, sales of the ATS and CTS are down significantly, but the competition — specifically the 3 Series, C-Class, and IS — is up, with seemingly no signs of slowing down.
To us, the question of appearance package for Cadillac models should be a matter of when?, not if?.
Agreed? Sound off in the comments.