Currently, if you want a V8-powered Cadillac luxury sedan, the Cadillac CT6 is your best bet. But the CT6 sits in a weird position, as it’s both cheaper and less luxurious than the BMW 7 Series, but more expensive and more luxurious than the BMW 5 Series. So its flagship luxury car doesn’t really compete with the flagship luxury cars of the Germans. However, Cadillac plans to change that and it’s signaling such a change with a new concept that debuted at Pebble Beach — the Cadillac Escala.
Escala means ‘scale’ in Spanish, which is kind of a strange thing to name a car after. Or maybe it’s named as such because, with this car, Cadillac plans on tipping the luxury scale in its favor. Okay, that was corny, but automotive marketing has been worse.
Based on the CT6 platform, the Escala will be Cadillac’s most expensive, flagship luxury car. It stands six inches longer than the CT6 and packs a 4.2 liter twin-turbo V8. The V8 is a prototype, but expect Cadillac to launch a similar engine soon to compete with the Germans. It will also be rear-wheel drive, thankfully.
It’s certainly the best looking iteration of Cadillac’s design language we’ve seen thus far. While the new ATS and CTS are good looking cars, they are pretty sedate. This Escala concept looks quite good actually, pretty even. Cadillac’s vertical headlights on the ATS and CTS are replaced by horizontal, squinty headlights which give the car a sleek and angry look. The highly creased hood also gives off a muscular look to the front end and it signifies the power of the V8 under hood.
In profile, the Escala looks very good. With an aggressive windshield and A-pillar and a sweeping rear roofline, the Caddy looks aggressive, yet elegant. An interesting feature is the sort of chrome hockey stick behind the front fender, which is reminiscent of a similar feature on the BMW 7 Series. Considering this car’s target competition, you wonder if the 7er had any influence on the Escala’s design.
Out back, the rear end is a bit staid, but not bad looking. One of the most interesting aspects about the Escala is that it’s a hatchback, like the Audi A7. That definitely gives it a more interesting design, as no other luxury car in that class has a hatch.
Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen has been trying desperately to get Cadillac into the upper echelons of the luxury segment since he got there. While Cadillac has made great strides under de Nysschen, it still isn’t considered in the same class of luxury as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Rightly or wrongly, people just don’t associate Cadillac with luxury like they do with the German brands. However, if Cadillac does develop a car out of this Escala concept, it could very well put itself in that category.
This is probably the first Cadillac concept in recent years that is genuinely pretty. It’s both aggressive and elegant, much like its German rivals. If the Cadillac Escala can actually come to fruition, it could be the car that helps Cadillac finally take on cars like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S Class.