Just what is this carmaker trying to pull?
Old folks don’t know what to do with the flashy and powerful models, young folks fear association with an old folks brand, and the middle-aged don’t want all that bling.
It used to be very simple: V8 in the front, leather in the middle, and extensive car in the back.
You bought a Cadillac in the 50’s and ’60’s because it was plush.
You bought a Cadillac in the ’70’s and ’80’s because it was outrageous in style.
You bought a Cadillac in the ’90’s and early 2000’s because you had no other options.
So who and why buy a Cady today?
On the surface, it looks like either you are a famous rapper/wannabe, Paris Hilton, an elderly couple, or experiencing a mid-life crisis.
Now before we write Cadillac off as having an identity crisis, let’s look a little deeper.
In recent years, Cadillac has held its ground, especially when considering value for money.
Take the CTS for example.
-some hate it’s sharp lines
-some hate its “look at me” factor
-some hate its lackluster transmission
but that’s really all you can hate about this car.
It is quiet, comfortable, handles quite well, and starting at $35k, it comes in less than its closest rivals, the BMW 5-series, the mercedes E-class, and the Audi A6.
Granted, you do get a GM-sourced nav system and a few chintzy bits in the cabin, but the car is a real competitor.
Then you get to the CTS-V [and it gets to you].
Pumping out 556-hp and 551-lb-ft of torque, the CTS-V is a Screamer.
And at a starting price of $63k, it severely undercuts rivals like the M5 and E55 AMG (~$100k).
Last year the CTS-V set the Nurburgring lap time record for a production sedan, so it can handle as well as growl.
Then Cadillac got creative with the recent coupe and wagon variants. Again, critics blasted the styling, but many
applauded the unique designs drivability. After all, Car and Driver has named the CTS/V one of the ten best cars since 2008.
-The escalade is nothing special, but it has held steady sales since 2007.
-The new SRX is an attractive model with some impressive standard features.
-No surprises with the STS: still an old person’s boat.
Yet the CTS is still Cadillac’s halo car.
So who was Cadillac targeting?
I would say it’s a pretty large audience, but mainly Americans with a little flare.
Not every American can afford them, not every American wants them, and most other countries wont take them.
Retro is out the door for Cady and they are fine with that.
Cadillac wants a younger audience, hence the “V” variants and acres of Chrome.
It is trying to remake itself, like Ford has, and turn its brand into a desirable commodity.
Has it worked?
Well you won’t find hipster teenagers or car tech junkies lining up for a Cady, but you may spot a fair amount of 25-40 year-olds eager to try something new.
Truth be told, if I was 35, had a family, and a decent chunk of cash to spend, I’d head to the nearest Cadillac dealer and buy a CTS-V Wagon.
There is a certain amount of “cool” Cadillac is building with their models, and with new BMW 3 and 7 series competitor models on the way, it will be interesting to see if Cadillac really can measure up to its Century-old slogan, and become the “Standard of the World”.
Maybe then Europe will buy a few.
** Do you think Cadillac is right on the money, or should they get back to basics? **