For years, Cadillac has tried to challenge BMW at the Bavarians' own game: high-performance sports sedans.
But the brand is moving away from that preoccupation, as it becomes the lead all-electric nameplate for General Motors' future and shifts its portfolio toward the luxury crossover SUVs that consumers are now demanding.
That doesn't mean Caddy has given up on spirited motoring, however.
Case in point: the just-revealed, all new CT4 sedan.
The 2020 CT4 follows the rollout of the CT4-V, which requires a convoluted explanation: that car was a downgraded update to the excellent ATS-V, intended to preserve some performance cred without continuing a possible futile battle against Germany's go-fast sheet metal.
We now have the CT4, logical successor to the ATS. This isn't some wild alteration of all that was once "A" and is now "C," but the CT4 does realign the Caddy lineup, with the four doors starting out at CT4 level, then moving up to the CT5 and the flagship CT6.
"We developed CT4 to appeal to youthful buyers in the luxury market who may be new to the Cadillac brand," Andrew Smith, Cadillac design global design chief, said in a statement. "The vehicle was intended to draw attention, using a combination of great proportions, taught surfacing and Cadillac family details that hint at the athletic driving experience this vehicle offers."
The sedan will go on sale in four trims: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, and V-Series.
For purists, the appeal starts with Caddy's preservation of a rear-wheel-drive architecture for the car; it would have been oh-so easy to shift to front-wheel-drive for a car that should price just north of $30,000 and that might well be oft-ordered in a all-wheel-drive configuration. (Then again, it's also a major benefit for Caddy to retain the mechanicals from the ATS).
A RWD CT4 is music to the ears of enthusiasts. "Cadillac is dedicated to building the most exhilarating sport-luxury sedans," chief engineer Rob Kotarak said in a statement. "Every element of the CT4 is designed to bring innovative technologies right to the driver, providing discerning driving dynamics with cutting edge precision."
Two engine options will propel the CT4 and the CT4-V variant. The CT4 gets a 2.0-liter, twin-scroll, turbocharged four-cylinder, making 237 horsepower with 258 pound-feet of torque piped through an eight-speed automatic. The top-of-the-line CT4 and CT4-V get a 2.7-liter "Dual-Volute Turbo" four-banger that cranks out 309 horsepower with 348 pound-feet of torque in "Premium Luxury" trim and 325 horsepower with 380 pound-feet of torque in the V model. A 10-speed auto manages the power for the bigger motors.
The CT4-V also gets a limited-slip rear differential.
Cadillac will also make its Super Cruise semi-self-driving system available on CT4 in 2020. Super Cruise has thus far been limited to CT6; it enables fully hands-free operation on GPS-mapped highways.