WARREN, MI – Cadillac unveils the all-new ’20 CT5 compact sedan, which marks the first product in a reworking of the luxury brand’s car lineup to give it more balance between the lower and upper ends of the segment.
“The first-ever Cadillac CT5 showcases Cadillac’s unique expertise in crafting American luxury sedans,” says Cadillac President Steve Carlisle.
“Its details elevate every drive and reward the senses,” he says ahead of the car’s debut on the floor of the New York auto show. The CT5 first broke cover last month in a social media campaign.
Pricing has not been announced, but the CT5 will slot underneath the Cadillac CT6, which General Motors considers the technical flagship for the brand’s car line but also a product facing an uncertain future with its assembly plant closing in January 2020 as part of the automaker’s manufacturing restructuring. A third model, the CT4, will fit below the CT5 in 2020.
Once complete, the new car portfolio will be more segmented in price and size than presently, with the ATS at the lower end and the CTS, XTS and CT6 each occupying the higher end of the segment.
Cadillac’s crossover and SUV lineup will be reworked completely with the summer arrival of the XT6 to complement the XT4, XT5 and the Escalade large SUV. A new Escalade comes next year.
Despite a seismic shift in the U.S. from cars to crossovers and SUVs, GM thinks the luxury-car segment still has plenty of life.
“There is still significant opportunity in this market and China,” says Jason Sledziewski, director-Global Product Marketing at Cadillac.
“It is part of our DNA and it also attracts SUV rejectors and is a good entryway into the brand,” he says during a media backgrounder for the CT5 here, which is just blocks from Cadillac’s new world headquarters since moving back to Michigan from New York this month.
Luxury-car sales in the U.S. last year fell 1.6% to 1.02 million units from 1.04 million in 2017, according to Wards Intelligence. Through the first quarter of this year, luxury car sales are up 6.4% to 258,259 units from 243,555 in the same period of 2018.
The 5-passenger CT5 joins the mix this fall from GM’s Lansing, MI, Grand River assembly plant, which received a $211 million investment to build the new generation of Cadillac cars. It rides on an updated version of GM’s Alpha platform, a lightweight and performance-optimized architecture previously underpinning the outgoing Cadillac ATS, CTS and current-generation Chevy Camaro.
CT5 chief engineer Mike Bride says revisions to the rear-wheel-drive-biased Alpha platform targeted improved motion control and impact harshness with the addition of ZF passive dampers. The platform features a multi-link front and 5-point rear suspension and a premium electronic power-steering system from Bosch.
Engineers also targeted unwanted road, wind and powertrain noises. Active noise cancellation technology adds a suite of Cadillac-curated sounds such as exhaust note enhancements.
“We wanted to hit all of the senses,” Bride says.
Engine choices include a standard 237-hp 2.0L twin-scroll turbocharged direct-injection gasoline 4-cyl., making 258 lb.-ft. (350 Nm) of torque with 100% of its thrust available at 1,500 rpm. The engine debuted on the ’19 CTS. Also available is an updated 335-hp 3.0L twin-turbo DI gasoline V-6 delivering 90% of its 400 lb.-ft. (542 Nm) of available torque at 1,800 rpm. Both are all-aluminum designs mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with Electronic Precision Shift.
“Just a little bit of throttle input and the car really goes,” Bride says.
The exterior design borrows heavily from the Cadillac Escala concept car of 2016. As such, it is Cadillac’s first fastback.
“It is a step change in styling for the brand,” says Cadillac design chief Andrew Smith. “We made the vehicle look like its drives. It exudes lightness.”
The CT5’s swollen wheel arches are new to Cadillac and the brand’s signature LED vertical exterior lighting now includes a horizontal element within the headlamp and taillamp. Smith says the new lighting execution remains unmistakably Cadillac on the roadway, but for the first time adds model differentiation. In another nod to Cadillac’s design heritage, small fins adorn the rear lamps.
At 193.8 ins. (4,924 mm) long, the CT5 is shorter than the CTS but the 116-in. (2,947 mm) wheelbase is longer to give it razor-thin overhangs. The beltline is intentionally low to convey the car’s relatively roomy interior.
“What we really wanted to bring back to Cadillac is the feeling of spaciousness,” Smith says.
But at the same time, drivers will enjoy a cockpit-inspired front-seat area with a user interface building off the XT4, where there is a choice between steering-wheel controls, the infotainment system’s 1080dp 10-in. (25.4-cm) high-definition color touchscreen or voice-activation system. The rotary controller from the XT4 also appears on the CT5.
The CT5 employs six high-definition cameras for items such as the rear camera and rear-camera mirror, which now includes a zoom function, four radars and 12 ultra-sonic sensors to power a suite of available advanced driver-assistance systems. Super Cruise hands-free driver-assistance technology will be available in 2020.
Additional technologies appearing on the CT5 include remote start with cabin conditioning, cabin air purification ionizer and available front-seat lumbar massage. A hands-free decklid uses a projection beam in the form of the Cadillac crest to pop the trunk with a kick of your foot.
The model range at launch will include Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport, with a Platinum package available on Premium Luxury and Sport models. Engineers were coy on whether a high-performance V-Series would come down the road.