Cadillac at the Detroit Motor Show: Biggest product offensive of all times
16-cylinder study unequivocally underlines Cadillac's new claim
- Powerful and smooth: Cadillac 16 with 13.6-liter engine, 1,000 bhp and 1,355 Nm
- Style and performance: Roadster coupe XLR to begin full-scale production in April
- Spaciousness and fun: SRX recreational vehicle to come on the market in summer
Rüsselsheim/Detroit. The American luxury marque Cadillac is bringing its anniversary year to an end with a genuine sensation: At the Detroit Motor Show, the 100-year old company is to unveil the study of a 16-cylinder limousine, underscoring its claim to a place among the absolute world elite of high-class vehicle manufacturers. But that is not all: Cadillac is also launching the biggest product offensive in its history, as two completely new models - the luxurious, sporty XLR roadster coupe and the spacious four-wheel SRX station wagon - will celebrate their public premiere simultaneously. Both of them will reach the US dealers in the summer of 2003 and come to Europe some time later. It was the launch of the CTS sports limousine nearly a year ago that heralded the renaissance of GM's Cadillac marque. The CTS has been enjoying enormous success in the United States and is due to make its debut on various European markets in the coming spring.
In 1930, Cadillac wrote automobile history when it introduced the world's first sixteen-cylinder car. It has now repeated the feat with a new concept vehicle. Its name, the Cadillac 16, is a clear reference to an era in which the American luxury marque was renowned as the "standard of the world". The dimensions and some of the style elements of the limousine now being presented in Detroit recall this classic era of car-making, but, at the same time, the intensive use of high-tech has also signals that the new study is innovative and groundbreaking.
The body: aluminum and steel for stability and lightness
The dimensions of the prototype are evidence enough that Cadillac again sees itself as a member of the leading group of international car manufacturers. With its wheelbase of 3,556 mm and length of 5,673 mm, the Cadillac 16 is an impressive sight; its contours are dominated by the extended engine hood and the 24-inch wheels with their P265/40 R25 tires. The classic gull-wing hood, the two halves of which are mounted on a longitudinal hinge and open electrically, provides easy access to the engine.
The four-door body, which dispenses with the central roof pillar and has an all-glass roof, is made of aluminum. It sits on an innovative central chassis tunnel made of steel on which front and rear spaceframe structures of extruded aluminum are mounted. This unusual design not only makes for outstanding stability, it also keeps the weight down to 2,270 kg, which is remarkably low for a car of such dimensions and engine size.
Inside, too, the designer's aim has been to capture the classic atmosphere of a luxury car from the 1930s. Crystal glass protects the instruments and the dashboard features a Bvlgari clock. Light-brown quilted leather and elegant walnut provide for a warm atmosphere, while hand-woven, cream-colored silk carpets reinforce the impression of luxury.
The sixteen-cylinder engine: Superlative, whisper-quiet power unit
Beneath the hood of the latest study vehicle is a power unit that is, quite simply, incomparable. With a bore of 105 mm and a stroke of 98 mm, its 16 cylinders boast an impressive 13.6 liters' capacity. The naturally aspirated unit produces a full 1,000 bhp/745 kW at 6,000 rpm, while the maximum torque is an enormous 1,355 Nm at 4,300 rpm.
The engineers, who had the unit up and running in the space of just seven months, deployed the very finest technology in designing the giant engine. The aluminum unit - which is the forerunner of a coming generation of V8 engines - features, for example, dry-sump lubrication to restrict its height. In designing the intake tracts and combustion chambers (which have a close affinity with some of the latest developments in the field of motor racing), intensive use was made of computer-assisted engineering. Among the key innovations as far as the design is concerned is the two-step cylinder switch-off system called 'displacement on demand', which converts the sixteen-cylinder engine to an eight or even four cylinder unit whenever less power is required. This involves shutting down the inlet and outlet valves of the relevant cylinders in fractions of a second, thereby lowering the average fuel consumption to that of a conventional eight-cylinder engine. Another special feature is that the camshaft timing can be altered by up to 40 degrees for overall optimization of power, fuel economy and emissions.
The XLR roadster coupe: Sporty, luxurious two-seater
While the Cadillac 16 is still a pure study vehicle with no set production start-up date, the new XLR roadster coupe is scheduled to hit the market before the end of this summer. The two-seater, with its expressive design in the unmistakable new style of the luxury American marque, has a retractable hardtop roof and is powered by an upgra-ded version of the famous Northstar V8 engine. Its key data: 4.6 liter capacity, four overhead camshafts, 315 bhp/235 kW at 6,400 rpm, 438 Nm at 4,000 rpm, 0 - 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds.
The interior of the XLR, which is due to go into production in spring 2003 and will reach Europe some time later, is dominated by an unusual mixture of eucalyptus wood, aluminum and leather. Instruments styled with the help of Italian designer Bvlgari provide a special touch. Other exclusive design features of the new Cadillac include a head-up display, heated/cooled seats, a keyless locking system with a start button and a DVD player. Another technical highlight is provided by the steplessly adjustable shock absorbers of the "Magnetic Ride Control".
The SRX recreational vehicle: Flexible space utilization, attractively packaged
Also due on the market this summer is the new luxury SRX station wagon, which was developed on the Sigma platform of the Cadillac CTS. The newcomer is immediately recognizable as a member of the new Cadillac family: Distinctly contoured headlamps and rear lights and the V-shaped grille are just some of the typical details. Inside, the new recreational vehicle has plenty of room and flexibility thanks to the longest wheelbase in its class. The optionally available third row of seats can be lowered completely into the floor, while the second row can be folded flat to increase luggage space. When fitted with the optional sliding roof (which is also the biggest in its class), there is no shortage of sunlight in the generously sized interior.
The biggest power unit available for the SRX will be the same Northstar V8 engine that is earmarked for the XLR: It has 32 valves, produces 315 bhp/235 kW at 6,400 rpm and has a maximum torque of 438 Nm at 4,000 rpm. The alternative is a new 3.6-liter V6 engine with a maximum output of around 260 bhp/190 kW at 6,500 rpm and a maximum torque of just under 350 Nm at 2,800 rpm. The all-aluminum power unit has a variable valve control - a fact betrayed by its VVT label (Variable Valve Timing). The power is transmitted via a standard five-gear automatic transmission, either to the rear wheels or to both axles.
The outstanding handling qualities of the practical five-door vehicle are due in part to the well-balanced weight distribution of 50:50, the comparatively low center of gravity and the sophisticated aluminum chassis. In addition, the electronic "StabiliTrak" chassis management system, the electromagnetic shock absorber control system ("Magnetic Ride Control"), and the four-channel ABS in conjunction with the four-wheel drive combine to effectively support the driver in all road and weather conditions.