When looking around the automotive luxury market landscape in America, small cars are becoming increasingly more apparent. Audi as the A1 and A3, Mercedes has the CLA, and BMW has the 2 Series and i3. Consumers seem to desire them because of the prestigious brand being sold at relatively affordable price. Yet Cadillac is still absent from the party. But not for long, according to Car and Driver.
In an interview, Cadillac marketing chief Uwe Ellinghaus heavily hinted, even detailed, that the brand is busy with a new small sedan program, or even 2+2 coupe program, set to compete within the subcompact luxury vehicle market. But unlike most of the vehicles in the segment, which are primarily front-wheel-drive-based outside of the 2 Series, Ellinghaus and company are in line with the car entering the market with a rear-wheel-drive-based setup. Tantalizing, no?
“Our future is rear-wheel drive and, of course, all-wheel drive where appropriate,” Ellinghaus said. But that’s not all he said.
“My personal crusade is to spare us a hell of a lot of dilution of our emerging brand image by moving to front-wheel drive for potential smaller cars,” he continued. “As you know, the entire competition is moving to front-wheel drive for their entry-level cars. I am under a hell of a lot of pressure, as are [Cadillac chief engineer] Dave Leone and [executive director of Cadillac design] Andrew Smith, because front-wheel drive offers these package and cost advantages. If we are just after the lowest price point possible to enter the category, we would have to go front-wheel drive tomorrow. That said, what is the reason to buy a Cadillac in that segment in a couple of years’ time when all the German competitors will have front-wheel drive? It is that we are maybe—if we are lucky—the only ones left with rear-wheel drive.”
Of course, a fwd small hatch like the A3 or A1 may have a broader sales appeal than a less-roomy and less-practical mini ATS, but Ellinghaus argues that the aesthetic and dynamics of an rwd car would also draw a crowd. It’s suggested by Car and Driver that the upcoming car will utilize GM’s Alpha architecture that also underpins the ATS, CTS and soon-to-be 2016 Camaro, however the timetable for this vehicle is not too close. Expect a sub-ATS to pop up around 2017, if ever.