Cadillac unveils the ultra-luxury Celestiq EV

Cadillac has a deeper heritage than almost any other automotive brand. The luxury division of General Motors is 120 years old. Among American automotive badges, only Buick is older. And in its heyday, Cadillac enjoyed a reputation that few automakers have ever matched.

He once built some of the most luxurious cars in the world – an American Bentley.

For the past few decades, Cadillac has passed itself off as an American BMW or Audi.

Its best-selling product remains the untouchable Escalade large SUV. But the company advertised luxury sports sedans like the Germans do and pushed its V-series of high-performance models as showpieces.

That leaves a lot of history on the table.

But not for long.

GM plans to remake Cadillac again. The brand has promised to go 100% electric, an opportunity to show American buyers in a new light.

With that in mind, Cadillac today unveiled a new banner stand meant to show off just how much its designers can do. It’s such a reminder of history that the first press release explaining the car mentions “the craftsmanship and customization that defined early Cadillac sedans such as the bespoke V-16-powered coaches of the 1960s. ‘pre-war’ as a source of inspiration.

Discover the Cadillac Celestiq, a modern electric car inspired by the dream cars of your great-grandparents.

The Cadillac Celestic show car is parked in front of an office building with a budding tree.  The car is a glossy mid-grey.  We see it from a rear quarter angle, facing our left.  The angle emphasizes its bulbous fastback rear.

A “show car” for now

The full-size ultra-luxury sedan you see in these photos is not for sale…yet.

Cadillac officially calls it a “show car” to illustrate that it is not ready for production. But insiders said the Celestiq is headed toward production, with about 400 a year to be manufactured by hand at GM’s Warren Technical Center research facility.

When? GM won’t say, but may have dropped a hint. Photos sent to press this week were labeled “MY25,” the industry’s shorthand for the 2025 model year. That could put the Celestiq in showrooms in mid-2024, though that’s some Pure speculation on our part.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Celestiq could cost north of $300,000. A Cadillac spokesperson tells us, “We have no comment on Celestiq pricing. We’ll share later this year when we announce more details for the production version.

The interior of the Cadillac Celestic show car.  The dashboard is seen at an angle between the front seats.  The seats are upholstered in red herringbone leather.  The dashboard appears to be a single wide screen spanning the entire width of the car.

The Jazz Age, the Jet Age and the Electric Age

The Celestiq looks a bit like today’s Cadillacs. The sharp-edged sheet metal folds and familiar vertical lighting elements are there. But it looks like the designers filtered them through a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald to create a 1920s and 2020s vehicle.

The designers drew inspiration from several periods in Cadillac’s history, according to the company.

Touchstones include “classic architecture like architect Eero Saarinen’s mid-century masterpieces” and the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham.

It is no coincidence that Saarinen designed the Warren Center building where Celestiqs will be assembled – a National Historic Landmark for his contribution to American architecture. He was also the architect behind Saint Louis’ Gateway Arch. They’re aiming for the iconic here.

Other inspirations include these pre-war sedans – their art deco hood ornament etched into crystal strakes behind the front fenders.

They come together to create a nice looking car in the front but oddly proportioned in the back. The front end is imposing, with its fake illuminated grille borrowing the Cheshire Cat smile from the Lyriq SUV. But the rear is bulbous. It reminds us of the Porsche Panamera, but somehow more angular. The Panamera looked weird until everyone got used to it, so maybe the rear of the Celestiq will eventually look okay.

The interior of the Cadillac Celestic show car.  We see the rear seats, covered with a herringbone pattern in red leather at the bottom and black at the top.

Interior, red leather and glass

Inside, the look is sumptuous. The seats are covered with herringbone red leather, tending towards black at the level of the head restraints. Piano black and brushed nickel trim looks like it’s straight out of an upscale bar where you’d meet Humphrey Bogart for a spin.

But it’s 2022. Touchscreens are everywhere. The dashboard looks like a huge LED screen – 55 inches across – but is segmented with privacy filters so the driver sees the usual instruments while the front passenger can watch a video the driver can’t see.

“The smart glass roof features Suspended Particle Device (SPD) technology that enables four zones of variable lighting,” Cadillac explains, “allowing passengers to fine-tune their cabin experience for fully personalized comfort and visibility. »

Cadillac low-key on specs

And now we would like to talk to you about the transmission.

We would like. But we can’t. Cadillac said nothing other than to mention that the Celestiq runs on GM’s Ultium architecture. Ultium is a combination of batteries, electric motors and skateboard-like suspension that all sit under the passenger compartment of an electric car.

Cadillac has already used it in the Lyriq. There, it’s available in a 340-hp rear-wheel-drive configuration or a 500-hp all-wheel-drive (AWD) configuration.

But those numbers seem unlikely on a car with a potentially Rolls-Royce price tag. If the rumors about Cadillac’s target audience for the Celestiq are true, we think it’s more likely to borrow the 1,000-hp AWD Ultium kit from the GMC Hummer EV.

The interior of the Cadillac Celestic show car.  We see the front seat backs, shaped like sleek metal, with screens to entertain the rear passengers.

A decadent roll of hand-carved ebony dice

The term “headlight” is easily used in the automotive world. It always refers to the top of a car manufacturer’s range. But that can mean different things for different markets.

For many years, Cadillac flagships hit the low six-figure mark. Competing in the rarefied domain of Bentley and Rolls-Royce is something Cadillac hasn’t attempted in generations.

But here is this attempt.

Cadillac describes the Celestiq as a car that “views the entire journey as a curated experience – one destined to evoke an emotional response.”

It’s unlike anything else on the road, which just might evoke the answer they’re looking for. But will ultra-luxury buyers pay Maybach money for a car from the folks who brought you the $37,000 XT4? We’ll have to wait to see if the emotional response is that strong.

But we hope so. Cars become more interesting when their designers have the freedom to play with unusual inspirations.

Visible bolts on the Celestiq are emblazoned with “The Standard of the World”, a Cadillac slogan from the early 1900s. This shows the history and thinking that led up to this. Let’s wish Cadillac luck with selling at least 400 of them, so they keep taking risks.

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