Cadillac XTS Platinum

Cadillac XTS Platinum concept ready to replace STS/DTS?

For the past decade, Cadillac has been transforming itself from a brand that built big, floaty old-school luxury cars for old-school customers into something much more contemporary to compete with the best premium brands from Europe. Unfortunately for General Motors, the process has been only partially successful. The Escalade has been a huge sales success for the brand and the CTS has achieved both critical and commercial acclaim. The STS and the first generation SRX, however, never quite struck a chord with the market and the DTS is just old. A new SRX debuted last year, but now it’s time to flesh out the rest of the lineup. It’s time to spread that goodness to both a smaller and larger sedan. Last August we saw styling concepts of both those cars, dubbed the ATS and XTS during a visit to the GM design studios. GM isn’t publicly showing the 3 series-sized ATS just yet, but the XTS is debuting today at the Detroit Auto Show. The XTS Platinum concept is a preview of Cadillac’s new flagship that’s expected to start production in early 2012. Read on after the jump to learn all about it.

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In the XTS we finally get a full-size interpretation of Cadillac’s “Art & Science” design language that features the same bold looks embodied in the CTS. The STS is considered by most to be a watered down example of Cadillac’s signature design and the DTS is really just a warmed over version of the old de Ville. The face of the XTS, which will replace both, is derived from the 2003 Sixteen concept, including the grille and slim vertical headlights that extend into the top edge of the fender.From there back the look of the Sixteen concept is discarded. In profile, the XTS has a short hood with the base of the steeply raked windshield rising up from near the trailing edge of the front wheel arch. The greenhouse is particularly long in proportion to the body with the backlight sloping back into the short rear deck where it meets the gently rising belt-line. Below the belt-line is an undercut crease echoing the one on the new SRX, but thankfully without the crossover’s fake fender.

Dimensionally, the XTS slots in between the current STS and the DTS, although it’s closer to the larger DTS. The overall length and wheelbase are both four inches shorter than the DTS. The new sedan is also 1.5 inches taller than the older sedans but the proportions do a good job of hiding the height. Inside the XTS gets a new look compared to recent Cadillacs. Instead of the navigation screen popping up out of the top of the center stack as it does in the CTS and SRX, there are a pair of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays for the instrument cluster and integrated navigation screen. The pop-up screen setup does return in the back seat where the entertainment system displays rise up behind the headrests. As you would expect of a flagship for a luxury brand, the rest of interior is finished in premium woods, leathers and laser-etched suede. When we first saw the XTS last summer, Cadillac provided no details about the car aside from it having all-wheel drive. Last week when we spoke with GM hybrid spokesman Brian Corbett about the company’s plug-in two-mode hybrid program (PHEV), he told us that while no production announcements were being made yet, the system would first go into a premium brand vehicle and it would show up in one of the Detroit concepts. We now know that the XTS Platinum is that concept in question.

In order to provide the plug-in capability, the nickel metal hydride battery pack has been replaced with a liquid-cooled lithium ion pack. The battery will use the same lithium cells going into the Chevrolet Volt battery pack, but with a smaller 8 kilowatt-hour capacity. Because this is “just a concept,” no battery capacity is listed but Corbett tells us that LG Chem/CPI are still the intended supplier for whatever vehicle gets the PHEV system.Since the electric drive capacity of the two-mode system is not sized to propel the vehicle electrically at all speeds, the system allows pure electric drive only at speeds only below 40 mph. Under moderate to heavy acceleration or at higher speeds, it is also capable of providing increased electric power blending as long as the lithium battery has not been depleted of its plug-in charge. Based on the size of the battery from the VUE, the XTS should be able to go about 20 miles with this enhanced hybrid capability before reverting back to standard hybrid performance. During that period, the PHEV should roughly double the ,mileage of a conventional non-hybrid model with that improvement dropping to about 50 percent after the plug-in charge is depleted. The net combined output of the V6 and hybrid system is listed at 350 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to the instant torque of the electric drive, that pulling power should also be more available at low speeds where it would be most appreciated in a vehicle of this size.

Recently it was reported that Mercedes-Benz would launch its first production plug-in hybrid system in the next generation S-Class. The XTS Platinum concept is slightly shorter but taller and wider than the current S-Class and may go on sale at the same time as the new S. Today’s S400 hybrid also uses a ,3.5-liter V6 albeit with a much less powerful electric drive system and battery, so the new plug-in version should make for a very interesting comparison, assuming Cadillac opts to build this car.The platform of the XTS is believed to be an upgraded variant of GM’s Epsilon II architecture, so it should prove to be quite capable when it comes to dynamic maneuvers. In keeping with its branding, the concept also gets some extra niceties such as the magnetic ride damping system found on the
and the Corvette ZR1.
As the flagship of the Cadillac brand, the XTS would also likely use the Haldex-based torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system found in the new SRX 2.8-liter turbo, the departed Saab Turbo-X and the Opel Insignia OPC.At the end of the day, the XTS Platinum concept probably provides a good look at the production car that will take over for Cadillac’s two biggest cars. Questions that remain include how well you think this concept wears the brand’s Art & Science design language and weather or not enough of the Sixteen concept’s sizzle has found its way into the XTS.

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