29 September 2004

General Motors is considering a new Cadillac to rival the BMW 3-series. According to Bob Lutz, vice president of GM product development, it would be based on GM’s Epsilon platform – the basis of the Vauxhall Vectra, Saab 9-3 and Chevrolet Malibu – which would make it front-wheel-drive. Diesel engines would also be available. It could be on sale by 2008 and should be engineered for right-hand drive.

The car would be built exclusively for Europe, said Lutz, although cars could be exported to the US if the demand was there and the exchange rate was favourable. Lutz considers the Cadillac CTS the equivalent of a BMW 5-series, and thinks there is room for a smaller Cadillac – a change of tack from earlier this year, when GM said that the CTS would be the smallest model in the range. Engines would include the new-generation 250bhp turbo V6 engine, which makes it debut in the Saab 9-3 next year, and the 1.9-litre CDTi turbo-diesel designed by Fiat. The project has yet to achieve approval however, and GM CEO Rick Wagoner said: ‘I don’t rule it out, but it’s not mainstream.’ More pressing for Cadillac’s prospects in Europe is the development of a range of diesel engines. A V6 turbodiesel and a 3.8-litre V8 turbodiesel – created by fusing two 1.9-litre Fiat JTD four-cylinder engines – are thought to be on the table. Lutz also indicated that Cadillac is still considering a ‘flagship’ model inspired by the dramatic Sixteen concept car (right) that appeared at the 2003 Detroit show. The car would be significantly smaller, but retain the much-admired style of the Sixteen. Nor would the production version use the V16 of the concept car – a V12 is more likely, ‘an engine costing £4000 to £5000, based on an existing power unit,’ rather than the V16 which would cost tens of thousands per unit to produce. He estimates that the car would cost around £85k and would be available in right-hand drive.

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