The Cadillac Escala is not my favorite Cadillac concept vehicle in modern history. In fact, that recognition (if it’s worth anything) would be awarded to the Cadillac Elmiraj. I think the Escala looks good, but maybe a bit pedestrian in a crowded sea of automotive design.
That’s not to say it isn’t stunning; the Escala is a very handsome vehicle in person and it carries plenty of presence. However, the exterior isn’t why the Escala keeps my hopeful the best is yet to come for Cadillac, it’s the interior.
Vintage American luxury vehicles are hit or miss when it comes to exterior design. You’ll have those who say vehicle X is gorgeous, and others will say vehicle X had been beaten with an ugly stick. But, there’s one thing vintage Cadillacs always got right. Well, to me at least. That was the interior.
By today’s standards, material usage is poor and build quality even more so in some respects, but I’ve never looked at a 1960s or 1970s Cadillac and thought, “Well, that’s rather boring.” Instead, they feel special. Someone was thinking about how to create a luxurious space drivers and passengers want to spend time in, something thoughtful and striking even.
The 2016 Cadillac CT6 is a good car, but frankly, I don’t think the interior matches anything a modern Cadillac should represent, and it does not do justice to the engineering sitting beneath it. The everyday driver may not notice, but it’s easy to point out areas where Cadillac dug its hands into the GM parts bin for the sake of cost, ease, something. I don’t know.
The Escala, on the other hand, does something very different, even more radically different than other Cadillac concepts. Its thoughtful interior design reminds me of the over-cared for designs from yesteryear. Someone was thinking about creating a cabin where you want to spend time and enjoy yourself. What does this have to do with the future of Cadillac?
Cadillac has already hinted the Escala showcases the future of its interior designs, and not just the fact it features a curved, OLED display. It’s the materials that have me bullish. Even Andrew Smith, Cadillac’s executive director of global design, says the interior is his favorite part of the concept vehicle. For good reason, too.
The interior isn’t awash in typical leather, something so commonplace I can rent a Corolla with what used to be reserved for the standards of the world. Instead, the design team chose fabrics to adorn the door panels, seating surfaces and dashboard. And the result is spectacular in my eyes, with striking whites, greys and browns flowing so easily against different textured materials. This is a modern Cadillac interior.
And it’s an interior ushered in under Johan de Nysschen and Andrew Smith’s Cadillac, not old GM, like the CT6 and XT5 began life under. I think it’s fair to remind Cadillac enthusiasts pulling for the brand every single day that we’ve yet to see much of anything from the latest Cadillac regime.
I’m not saying the Escala is a retro design in any way, shape or form. But what is throwback is the idea of a well-tailored interior and an air of craftsmanship inside for the driver and passenger. To me, that’s daring greatly.