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Cadillac Flagship Sedan CT6 Platinum Trim

  • Monday, September 12, 2016, 1:12 pm
  • ACROFAN=Yong-Man Kwon
In American market, considered one of the two major axes of international vehicle market, GM and ‘Cadillac’ have symbolic meanings higher than the current positions at the market. It has continued for more than 100 years of history with the symbolic meaning of global group GM’s luxury division. With a long history, in 21st century, it is presenting fresh shock that matches the era and, recently, showing a new look such as a sporty image that has performance division and emphasizes performance.

Moreover, when ‘owner driven’-focused ‘shock’ and ‘sporty’ meet traditional ‘luxury’ and ‘chauffeur driven,’ it is harder than expected to best compromise them. This has been difficult problem that many brands came through, but methods in various directions have come up. Cadillac also faced this difficulty at the large ‘flagship sedan.’ However, in standing between the tradition’s ‘luxury’ and the present’s ‘shock,’ personally, there was a lot to look forward to where to put emphasis between a car’s front and back.

CT6 is a large sedan, which carries Cadillac brand’s ‘flagship’ model reaching 5.2m for the whole length and 3,109mm for the wheelbase, and its weight class usually has a characteristic with ‘chauffeur driven.’ In Cadillac CT6, it reveals attempts to coexist the opposite values by integrating various convenient functions for backseats and the latest technologies related to running for a driver. In fact, the biggest ‘shock’ might be the appearance of the car with this size and the latest technologies in this price.

▲ The body line increased Cadillac’s unique line to the back side in a natural way.

▲ Center fascia side is arranged neatly with a large screen as its center.

With long, low ratio of the car body based on Cadillac’s unique dynamic body line, Cadillac CT6 shows the existence of a flagship sedan. The car body with 5,185mm of the full length, 1,880mm of the full width, and 1,485mm of the full height and the wheelbase with 3,109mm present rather long appearance compared to the standard of the wheelbase models from the cars with traditionally same level of segment. Cadillac’s signature grille and vertical-type lights are shown in new designs, and the indirect lighting LED multifunctional headlamps are applied at the signature lights.

It is known that 13 high-pressure aluminum castings and total 11 composite materials are applied and to CT6’s chassis based on the integral single frame, Body Frame Integral(BFI), from ‘Omega’ architecture and the new patent technologies such as aluminum spot welding and aluminum laser welding are used at the major connections. Even with this size, the domestically launched model achieved 1,950kg of empty vehicle weight through lightening by using aluminum to 64% of the car body, minimizing the connection parts and about 200,000 times of computer simulation.

The interior aims to secure daring, elegant and spacious interior space, and it applied special materials, such as a carbon fiber, and smooth, feeling pleasant natural leather and high quality wood. In platinum trim, adjusting direction, reclining, cushion tilting massage, heating and cooling function are applied to rear seats. Also, a flip-type 10-inch dual monitor at the back of front seat and wireless headset are prepared for backseat passengers to enjoy watching movie and listening to music independently.

▲ 34 speakers of BOSE Panaray Sound System cover the entire interior of the car.

BOSE Panaray Sound System tuned for CT6 delivers the best sound quality that can be felt in a concert hall to all the passengers through 34 speakers. The air-conditioning system can be independently quad-zone controlled, so it sets up the interior temperatures that each passenger prefers by dividing the interior into four parts. Also, the air ionization system maintains the interior air clean by preventing dust and odor from flowing into the interior.

Various convenient functions that CT6 provides can be used through Cadillac CUE system and the big touch screen of center fascia. Physical buttons as well as touch screen are in touch-type, so they make a clean interior atmosphere. CUE system supports Apple CarPlay function, and, apart from the touch screen, a passenger can conveniently access many functions through a touch pad located at the center console. There is no motion detection, but it is expected to be supplemented by voice recognition through CarPlay.

Other distinctive features at the driver seat might be Night Vision System, which helps recognizing obstacles on road by using thermal infrared camera, and rear camera mirror, which uses rear pantoscopic camera. Rear camera mirror provides wider view than the original room mirror, and lets a driver secure a complete view even in situation when rear window blind went up. Of course, as the camera is exposed to the outside, it needs attention to pollution.

Besides, as well as 360 degrees surround vision system, many high-tech specifications, such as land departure warning, front collision alert, front pedestrian warning system, are applied. They also provide warning by interworking with large full color cluster, CUE infotainment system, head up display and electric haptic seat. CT6 has not only automatic parking function but also front and rear automatic braking system which detects the objects at the front and rear of the car during forward or reverse.

▲ Naturally aspirated 3.6L V6 direct injection engine is one of the luxuries left at the flagship.

CT6’s new type 3.6L V6 gasoline direct injection engine delivers performance of maximum output 340-horsepower and maximum torque 39.4kg·m through electronic four-wheel drive system. Compared with six-speed automatic transmission, the eight-speed hydramatic automatic transmission achieved 5% of fuel efficiency improvement with enhanced responsiveness and driving efficiency. It also raised economic aspect with auto stop-and-start function, and active fuel management system that only activates only four cylinders during certain driving condition. The integrated fuel efficiency is 8.2km/L.

In active chassis system, which is for driving performance and safety, magnetic ride control and active rear steering technology are included. CT6 is designed to control each wheel independently from the monitor, and all the wheels can offer the optimal driving performance through magnetic ride control by detecting the road condition for every 1/1000 second and controlling damping force of each wheel. This technology had been introduced at Cadillac’s another high performance model.

Active rear steering steers the direction of the back wheel to the same or opposite direction of the front wheel, and of course, reduces turning radius about 1m in low speed driving to increase agility at cornering, so it allows a stable turning during driving. As its composition of suspension, multi-link MacPherson strut is applied to the front wheel, 5-link independent suspension is applied to the back wheel, brake seems to be based on Brembo, and 19-inch or 20-inch wheel is applied to the tire with 245mm of width depending on the trim.

▲ The car that I tried is the upper model, CT6 Platinum Trim.

Acrofan attended Cadillac CT6 media test-drive event held at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Yeongjong-do, Incheon, on September 7, and had chance to take a test-drive of CT6 Platinum Trim model. CT6 Platinum Trim is strengthened flagship’s chauffeur-driven aspect by applying the seats with electric tilting, massage, heating and cooling functions, and it has all of CT6’s various high-tech specifications. The test-drive route was from Yeongjong-do to Heyri Artist Valley, in Paju-si, mainly on highway and expressway, so I could check both riding comfort and performance.

When I sat in the back seat, its composition aspect was adequately satisfactory. By slightly adjusting position of the passenger seat, the space becomes wide enough to fully stretch legs. However, even if CT6 has long wheelbase, the electric seat takes large part. So I felt that there might be some limitations on controlling electric seats when four people get in the car. The position of seat and massage function are quickly accessible with buttons. In case of massage function, one can set five types of patterns and intensities through monitor.

The monitor can be set up with remote control, and one can choose left or right monitor with the switch of remote control. Independent infotainment system of the back seat has HDMI and USB input. Wireless connection is not supported, but I did not feel needed. Also, wireless headphone is prepared, so it blocks the exterior noise and lets a user enjoy media. The reason why it uses remote control rather than touch screen might be it is more comfortable to press the button on remote control than pulling oneself while snugging in the seat.

▲ One can control media and seat on the screen, operated by remote control.

▲ The back seat’s assortment of function was impeccable.

After a start, when driving onto the highway, the feeling about the back seat was something lacking as a chauffeur-driven. Even in default setting, a tour mode, the movement of CT6 seems to be leaving little reaction to owner-driven tendency rather than absorbing shocks like traditional chauffeur-driven. Hence, the movement from the curves of the road while driving onto the highway was bigger than expected. In addition, in aspect of noises such as wind or road noise, it was little below the expectations of ‘flagship’ while entering medium-high speed region.

As glass roof is composed of front part and back part separately, when the back part is opened, it is possible to feel its own atmosphere, and the blind on the back window can be opened and closed electrically for keeping privacy or avoiding sunlight. The blind on the side glass has to be opened and closed by hand, but I think that it might have been the best in given reality. The interior is mainly made of leather, but it feels little hard unlike any other car. Nevertheless, this could be passed over as the difference with brand and concept.

The engine and exhaust sound are clearly heard at the back seat when the engine goes over 3~4,000rpm in tour mode. It might be the advantage to sports sedan with owner-driven tendency, but it is not satisfactory for large sedan with chauffeur-driven tendency. The setting of driving mode could have been better to satisfy both of them. Nevertheless, it was interesting that the feeling of tilting at the back seat is significantly little during rapid cornering whether it is because back wheel steering is added.

▲ Though a driver does not need to look dashboard often by HUD, its composition is satisfactory at visibility, and etc.

When sitting in the driver seat, the seat position is lower than expected, and I even felt constricted. In aspect of steering feel, the difference of the weight according to the speed is relatively clear, and the movement is calmer and clearer than expected. The movement of transmission is smooth when starting the car in low speed, and it is possible to softly increase the speed without creating unpleasant sound to the back seat by slowly stepping on the accelerator. Also, with coverage of eight-speed transmission, cruising near 140km/h under 2,000rpm is quite possible.

Naturally aspirated 3.6L V6 engine with 340-horsepower output creates general performance at the low speed. Below 3,000rpm, the noise is not bothering and the reactivity is not bad. The transmission finds out the context level even in low speed and low rotational state, so there was nearly no dissatisfaction with transmission. In case of rotation texture, I felt that it is not outstandingly smooth, but there is a difference from popular in-line 4 cylinders. In the age of downsizing turbo, naturally aspirated engine with large displacement seems to be special luxury that only flagship can enjoy.

As technology for efficiency, stop-start function, which is now common, and active fuel management technology are equipped. It is a technology that activates only 4 cylinders at low loads depending on the situation, and creates V4 engine to reduce fuel consumption. Sometimes V6 on the dashboard is changed to V4 during idling or cruise-control on expressway. However, it is changed to V6 in an instant even at little acceleration, and I think it will work in cruise-control on expressway or in congested downtown area where the car stops a lot.

▲ The effect of active rear steering system gave impressive feeling during driving.

‘Owner driven’ tendency of CT6 appears in earnest above 3,000rpm. This is because the inflow of engine noise suddenly increases, and the power and movement from the engine are changed. When the accelerator is pressed in sport mode, the accelerator starts to clearly speed up with leaving a margin. Meanwhile, in CT6’s 8-speed transmission, 7-speed and 8-speed are used for cruising with comfort and fuel efficiency, and when 7-speed is applied in high load condition, it sometimes changes down to 6-speed.

In aspect of motor performance, rear wheel steering system with magnetic ride control makes us forget about the car’s weight class. Since rear wheel steering system is added, I hardly felt frustrating movement that the back was trailed behind during cornering even though the car has long wheelbase. Hard feelings that was felt uncomfortable at the back seat are changed to reliable feelings, and it is quite impressive that anxiety is hardly felt at all the practical speed ranges.

The appearance of showing some of the shock, which was felt at the back seat, rather than offsetting all of the shock was similar in both sport and tour mode. It might be perfect handling in the position of owner-driven, but I feel that it could have been better in the position of chauffeur-driven. Of course, it could be overcome to some degree depending on a driver’s driving preference. The brake of Brembo License seemed sensitive when it was first stepped, but the performance was good enough that it would not be swayed by the size and weight of the large sedan.

▲ The lens for electronic room mirror is used separately from the rear camera.

An interesting point of CT6 is electronic room mirror, which is connected to the rear camera. The electronic room mirror that can secure the rear view even if one pulls up the blind at the back seat removes blind spot between the original room mirror and back mirror by using a wide-range lens. In fact, there were some frustrations about the viewing angle of the back mirror, but its combination with room mirror was quite great. Of course, there is unfamiliarity from viewing angle and height, but a driver will not want to get back to the mirror once the driver becomes used to this option and has trusts about reliability.

Center fascia’s screen and buttons around it are in touch-type, and the air conditioner is remained as button-type. But infotainment functions are mostly integrated into the screen and reduced the number of button and lever, so it played a key role in creating clean design. Sometimes, however, there are problems with the capacitive touch buttons. For example, if hands are sweaty, the buttons will not be pressed that a driver cannot use most of the functions. I also have an experience that I struggled at controlling audio volume during test-drive.

Meanwhile, one more point to be desired at Cadillac CT6 that claims to be the brand’s ‘flagship’ and ‘luxury sedan’ is ‘quality.’

When considering that CT6 is the flagship of the brand, it could have been better because dozens of trial cars present all different appearances of external panel and bumper, and downside of the trunk luggage panel finished poorly. It might be the problem of a trial car which went through harsh schedule after launching, but the noises from the back seat become disappointing parts at the overall satisfaction.

▲ Cadillac CT6 feels like ‘technology luxury’ based on high-tech.

The brand, Cadillac, feels like the archetype of American luxury, which has history and tradition, but rather than traditional ‘luxury,’ the recent Cadillac has the luxury image made with integration of performance and high-tech. Moreover, although CT6 is in the position of large luxurious sedan, it has more tendency of owner-driven integrated with recent technologies rather than traditional chauffeur-driven, and it even has the feeling of ‘innovation,’ which is hard to see in other brands’ sedans having similar size with CT6.

If there is one more ‘innovation’ in CT6, it will be, of course, the price. It is mouthwatering story that a flagship-leveled imported large sedan heavily, which is armed with all the high-tech technologies and equipped with lots of convenience devices for chauffeur-driven, is appeared with 95 million won. When considering only the price, and when comparing with flagship-leveled large sedans, which are competitive models with similar size and specifications, the differences with CT6 makes us think that its price is lying about any side.

In large sedan that luxuriousness, directly related to the price, is considered important, getting both performance and price within limited budget feels like catching the values that cannot coexist. Cadillac CT6 seems to be doing its best in the given conditions by approaching from different direction. Hence, CT6 became ‘two-faced’ in many meanings, and it is expected that CT6 might be great choice if you can accept its luxurious aspect with different direction from traditional ‘luxury.’