Cadillac looks to its electric future with retro-inspired Celestiq
The Cadillac Celestiq is a car of contradictions. It draws on elements from the brand’s historic past, but it’s also decidedly futuristic. At a time when buyers are buying SUVs and clamoring for affordable EVs, this is a $300,000 bespoke sedan, albeit an all-electric one. It’s easy to be skeptical of Cadillac ‘returns’, but after checking out the Celestiq in the metal at Monterey Car Week, it’s clear the company’s designers have been working on a real hit.
The Celestiq idea has been in the works for years, but it was officially announced at the CES 2021 electronics show. It’s still not officially here: the first look in California was a show car , although camouflaged pre-production cars are currently being tested on public roads in Michigan. The nice thing about a semi-bespoke car at this price, however, is that the transition to production could mean a less watered-down end product than typical transitions from show car to showroom.
Although Cadillac hasn’t built anything so exclusive in decades, the Celestiq’s intent is reminiscent of the V-16s of the 1930s and the Eldorado Brougham of the 1950s. Like them, the Celestiq is a hyper-expensive halo car intended to set the tone for future products and to seek unabashedly to outdo everyone from Lucid to Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
Cadillac’s second all-electric vehicle wants to establish a design mix that emphasizes high-end luxury and battery-powered modernity, but doesn’t forget the American brand’s roots. The Celestiq will line up for the sequel to an electrified Cadillac lineup.
As GM CEO Mary Barra said during the Celestiq’s first full reveal during Monterey Car Week, the Celestiq “sets the tone of luxury and power for the world.”
It tries to cover a lot of bases. A long and roomy sedan, it reflects Cadillac’s “longer, lower and wider” era as well as the fastback designs of long ago. But it also incorporates a smart glass roof, pillar-to-pillar dashboard display, touchscreens throughout and advanced driver assistance technology. It’s all about the passenger experience with an expansive rear row and plush materials and features, but also wants to be a driver’s car, with a low center of gravity, the instant acceleration rush of torque and plenty of power. autonomy.
Like other recent EVs from GM, including the Cadillac Lyriq, the Celestiq will use the company’s Ultium platform. It’ll provide familiar mechanical components and battery technology, but the real draw for the 500 lucky customers who get to buy one every year are all the details of the rolling body on top.
GM’s Barra knows this Cadillac is like no other. She said the design and engineering team strived to “do things differently”. While the production vehicle will no doubt see some design tweaks, the Celestiq is remarkably swoopy with an extreme fastback design. It’s almost comically long, with a back that looks mismatched with its front.
It seems to channel other wind-stop designs like the 1970s Citroën CX and the experimental 1981 Mercedes-Benz Auto 2000 concept, but some inspiration no doubt came from Cadillac’s own fastback designs of the 1930s and 1940s. Even more modern takes from BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Genesis creep in, but the details are all modern Cadillacs. It’s beautiful in that it can leave the viewer a little dumbfounded.
With a focus on aerodynamic efficiency, the Celestiq’s coupe rear is more than just a styling quirk. The Celestiq also has a unique door-opening experience that seems prone to failure. With no traditional door handles, the door opens at the push of a button, keeping the sides clean and flush. The side mirrors and backlighting are still conceptual and will need to be modified to comply with road regulations, but create features that are too pronounced on the show car.
The trunk behind the extreme slope will probably change, but as it is, it opens into a cavernous hatch, barely separated from the rest of the vehicle. The opening is too big and angled and the cargo hold too open, which could be a comment on the purpose of this car. It’s not a load-and-fill family vehicle, but a premium passenger experience.
A four-quadrant suspended particle device smart glass roof will allow each passenger to select the transparency of their overhead section, adding to the personalization of the ride. The sunroof aggressively puts the “celestial” into “Celestiq,” which has the same nod to “intelligence” (the “IQ” ending) of the Lyriq.
Bring him back
While the fastback shape nods to older fastback themes, the Celestiq also espouses the “longer, lower and wider” philosophy that Cadillac was famous for in the 1950s through 1970s. The low beltline and surfaces horizontals make the Celestiq look huge but not visually heavy, and the big wheels give it a certain sportiness.
There are also small retro elements from the 1960s Eldorados and Coupe DeVilles through to the now defunct CT6. Although no rear spoiler has been incorporated into the new EV, the goddess hood ornament (first introduced in 1930) returns in the form of a shiny fender graphic.
Other details like embossed guitar strings in the center console give it a unique and different feel, as does its red leather interior (on display in the show car) with angled vents at the necks of the front seats. . The rear badging reiterates modernity despite the retro profile with an illuminated “CELESTIQ” and Cadillac logo.
While clashing with other premium electric sedans like the Lucid Air and Tesla Model S, the Celestiq is a class above those EVs and more likely to come up against future electrified options from Bentley and Rolls- Royce.
While emphasizing its electric design with a flat, open interior thanks to the low battery at the bottom of the car, the Celestiq is also a showcase for GM’s autonomous plans and Ultifi software platform. This car will go beyond the Super Cruise hands-free driving system and introduce Ultra Cruise.
The Level 3 autonomous system will enable hands-free door-to-door driving, and not just on the highways. Other sensors, including a light-measuring LiDAR, will be integrated into the vehicle.
Technology is dotted throughout the interior, with rear entertainment screens for the pair of executive-style seats. Between the seats, another touchscreen offers comfort settings, as does a central display in the front console. It’s overloaded with screens, especially with the front display dominating the cabin.
General Motors Design Manager Bryan Nesbitt focused on the battery-powered powertrain that powers the all-new Cadillac. “It ushers us into a fully electric future. That future is already on display with the Ultium battery platform in the Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV.
Celestiq will be the first luxury sedan, and the most expensive vehicle, to use the platform. Ultium is capable of 19 different drive and battery configurations, and on the Celestiq, will be powered by two electric motors. The modular architecture can go up to 200 kWh, provide an estimated range of up to 400 miles and the car should be able to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3 seconds.
When will the Cadillac Celestiq be available? How much will it cost?
The new flagship is expected to begin production in 2023 and be available by 2024. Cadillac plans to produce just 500 cars each year in limited production with custom features and materials. While official pricing will have to wait closer to the sedan’s on-sale date, GM insiders told the the wall street journal earlier this year that the price could top $300,000, depending on options and features.
At the reveal event, Barra acknowledged the Celestiq’s superior class compared to GM’s other electric vehicles. “Cadillac will pave the way for electric vehicles and luxury.”
After years of trying to catch up with competitors from Germany and Japan, the goal of shooting for the stars with the Celestiq is to lead. Hopefully the production version lives up to what we saw in Monterey.