Cadillac goes with Alpha & Omega

Cadillac apparently has internally approved development of a modified Zeta platform called Omega.   The Zeta platform is the GM Full-size Rear-wheel Drive platform.  GM platforms lately have received greek letters for their internal references.  The Zeta was originally designed as a replacement for the W, H, and K platforms, but was not used, instead becoming the underpinnings of the Chevrolet Camaro.  The long wheel-base version of Zeta has also arrived in the form of the Chevrolet Caprice police vehicle.

Zeta has an independent suspension utilizing MacPherson struts coupled with a dual ball joint lower A-arm in front and a four link independent setup in back.   Holden is working on a variant of Zeta to make it lighter and more economical.  One would suppose the new Cadillac Omega platform would be lighter and more premium — utilize more expensive components for the same platform in order to save more weight and improve performance.

GM Zeta Rear Wheel Drive Platform

The upcoming Gen V V-8 is the suggested powertrain for the new Top-Cadillac.  This seems a good selection to me as it should give terrific power and relatively good fuel economy for what promises to be a heavier vehicle.

The upcoming ATS will be on the Alpha platform, and the refresh of the CTS will also go onto a long-wheelbase Alpha.  Alpha was originally designed as a small rear-wheel drive program.  The advantage of the new Omega platform perhaps is that it allows for a even longer wheelbase for the upcoming Top-Cadillac.  Also, with the addition of the Omega platform for the larger Top-Cadillac (ULS?) Cadillac will have a nice mix of platforms to develop from.  The upcoming XTS is on the Epsilon II Front-wheel drive platform, although it may be all-wheel drive with rear-wheel drive bias.   It will be interesting to see how the XTS, ATS, CTS, and SRX fare in the showroom.

Expecting THE Sedan: the Cadillac XTS

Cadillac has not released much actual news about the upcoming DTS/STS replacement sedan.  It may or may not be named “XTS”.  The internal designation is probably GM 166.

2003 Cadillac Sixteen Concept

2003 Cadillac Sixteen Concept photo courtesy Marika Buchberger

Logically, let’s look at what is likely:


  • Base model 3.6L DOHC DI V6, with 304 hp.  Hybrid model to follow after release.
  • Performance Sedan: L99 6.2L V8 with 390 hp.  The return of Active Fuel Management to Cadillac. AFM Lifters in cylinders 1,4,6, and 7 and the AFM control system enables V4 operation at engine operating conditions where V4 mode is more efficient.

Chassis: Long wheel base Epsilon II w/ 115″ wheelbase, or 3″ more rear leg room than the CTS sedan. FWD or optional AWD, so it should definitely be an all-season selection.  Ultra-high strength steel in a premium chassis for super rigidity.

Interior: Hand stitched leather. Elegant, sweeping interior with infotainment system, and navigation.

Exterior:  Styling hints from the Cadillac Sixteen concept.  Love it or hate it elegance.

Pricing:  US$45-$65K, with later Hybrid and Platinum lines at a premium.

How can Cadillac Succeed at Marketing the new Smaller-than-a-CTS?

With the success in sales of the Cadillac CTS from 2003 forward, Cadillac has slowly moved this model upstream.  Although originally entry level CTS models sold for just under US$30K, most examples on Dealer lots now are in the high 30s to mid 40s.    Cadillac plans to slide in a new car in 2010 that is a bit smaller than the CTS, and a bit less pricey.  To make room for the new line, the price of the CTS has gone up a bit.  The new Cadillac has not been publicly named yet.  I am voting for it to be called the Cadillac αTS, for Alpha Touring Sedan.  I would make the A a Greek Alpha to signify that this is a special car.

When the Automotive press thinks of an inexpensive Cadillac, especially perhaps one with a 4-cylinder engine, they immediately yell CIMARRON!!!  The Cimarron basis was a Chevrolet Citation that was optioned up and rebadged as a  Cadillac.  It was not an inspiring car to begin with, and it was not a great car with a Cadillac badge on it.

Okay, so we have a business story on how not to execute the design and marketing for the new car.  But where is a good plan for how TO do it?  I suggest that Cadillac should consider the BMW 135i.    It continues to suffer from Bangle design, but look at other facets of the model.    As the top of the 1-line, it got the same 3L 300hp twin-turbo engine as the 335i.  The interior is high quality and well laid out.   From the driver’s seat of a 135i one can not tell that you are not in a 335i or 5, 6, or 7 series BMW.  The 135 FEELS like a BMW and shares a lot of interior styling cues with the rest of the line.  The 135i has full entertainment, leather, and navigation features of the larger BMWs.

How does the 135i fall down?  It is pricey, at $35k.  The 128i is the price leader for this model, so okay I guess.  Also, $35K is not as much as it used to be.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I feel the small BMW is challenged there.  The small size may have contributed to it looking like it does, but ugly is also something I hope Cadillac avoids in the new model.  Especially since the Cadillac will actually be the size of the larger 335i and not the 135i.

So what is the message?  Sure, bring us an alpha-chasis Cadillac that is lighter and more agile.  Offer it with a 4-cylinder turbo that gets good performance and mileage (a la 128i).  But give us the option of the big engines in the small car if that’s what we want, full boat interior touches, and autocross capabilities.  If the new CTS-V is the M5 matchup, please make the new Cadillac αTS the 335i matchup.   Yes, sure, bring high MPG lower performance option models along or along later, but show performance and luxury up front.  Those are what Cadillac is about.