BIRMINGHAM, MI –Corp. unveils later today in California the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon and plans for the next-generation Cadillac SRX cross/utility vehicle, a pair of products arriving next year and aimed at broadening the brand’s appeal at home and overseas.
While the CTS wagon represents the first such execution for Cadillac in North America, the brand currently sells a BLS-badged wagon in Europe shouldered by GM’s global Epsilon midsize car platform. But Europeans have been lukewarm to the BLS wagon, despite optional diesel and ethanol powertrains.
This has stalled the brand’s growth aspirations on the wagon-crazed continent. But GM is quick to tell Ward’s the new CTS variant will not replace the BLS.
Cadillac officials deny the CTS wagon was designed with Europe as a principle target, calling its focus global rather than regional.
“It’s not about, ‘How do we become successful in Europe?’” Clay Dean, Cadillac design director, says during a sneak preview here. “We don’t look at one region. We design globally.”
But, Dean admits, wagons represent the most popular body style in Europe among vehicles larger in size than the3-Series. “In addition to all-wheel drive, this vehicle allows us to perhaps maximize our opportunities to (draw) consideration from people in Europe” who would not have otherwise contemplated Cadillac, he says.
The wagon’s unveiling today takes place at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The ’10 SRX, which discards the third row of its current iteration and shrinks closer to the dimensions of the two-row Cadillac Provoq concept shown earlier this year, will debut at an unspecified auto show later this year.
“It is aimed directly at the heart of the (CUV) segment,” says John Howell, product director at Cadillac. For a frame of reference, Howell says the new SRX would compete in the same segment as theX5.
Cadillac remains mum on the SRX platform or a production site, but it’s been widely reported GM wants to move away from the rear-wheel drive Sigma underpinning of the present model to a front-wheel drive platform, presumably Theta Epsilon. Theta Epsilon currently underpins the Saturn Vue CUV in North America and the Opel Antara CUV in Europe. GM builds the Vue in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, and the Antara in South Korea.
Howell says the new SRX will accommodate five passengers and plenty of cargo. Detailed specifications will accompany its auto-show debut.
While the CTS Sport Wagon should supplement Cadillac’s current offerings in Europe with sharper styling and a sportier demeanor, GM hopes it resonates with American consumers downsizing from gas-guzzling SUVs.
The wagon arrives ahead of the new SRX next spring.
The Cadillac CTS coupe, which GM unveiled in near-production form at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year, will follow the SRX to Cadillac dealers in the August timeframe, Howell tells Ward’s.
Dean says the CTS Sport Wagon further demonstrates the options featured in its popularly received, redesigned-for-’08 sedan stablemate.
“It’s a pretty exciting addition to where the CTS is going to be,” he says, calling the growing model lineup a “family” of vehicles, which also includes a CTS-V high-performance sedan coming later this year. “It answers the question, ‘What else can you do.’”
Dean says the exterior design of the wagon takes the sedan’s lines in a more extreme direction.
Extending the sedan’s sharp lines further rearward with the wagon, it “looks faster, more dynamic, more youthful, more exhilarating,” Dean says. “It really targets a different buyer.”
In fact, Cadillac designers considered baby strollers and bulky, youth athletic bags in addition to golf clubs while fashioning the rear cargo area of its interior, which from the B-pillar forward duplicates the sedan.
The wagon’s exterior also better finishes the V-crease design theme of the sedan, Dean adds. “It’s not only in the front of the car now, but it’s in the back of the car,” he says, referring to vertical a centerline crease on the wagon’s hatch.
Other notable design elements include Cadillac’s trademark stacked rear tail lamps, which feature LED light pipe technology, but now stretch from the bumper into a razor’s edge at the roofline, where a chrome rail hides an integrated roof-rail system.
“It’s not something archaic and old or ugly. It’s beautiful, it’s sophisticated and it allows, if you desire, to carry loads on the top of the car,” he says.
GM will outfit the wagon with a base 3.6L V-6 turning out 263 hp, or an optional 3.6L direct-injected V-6 with 304 hp that took home a Ward’s best engines award last year with its debut in the CTS and STS.
European and Asian markets will receive a 2.9L turbocharged diesel V-6 making 250 hp.
Transmissions include anWorld Cop. 6-speed manual or a GM 6-speed automatic.