Shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Cadillac’s new XTS Platinum Concept showcases the direction for an upcoming flagship Cadillac sedan that would slot above the CTS in the brand’s lineup. In addition to a very spacious passenger-friendly design and an especially lavish-looking interior, it employs GM’s plug-in Two-Mode Hybrid system and all-wheel drive.
Cadillac general manager (and former GM North American design chief) Bryan Nesbitt introduced the XTS Platinum at the Detroit show, mentioning its overall “feeling of spaciousness.” Sure enough, six-foot-plus chairman and CEO Ed Whiteacre, after the presentation, sat down informally in the XTS as a photo op for the press and showed that he had plenty of legroom.
To get some idea of why the interior feels softer and warmer than most interiors that Cadillac has produced in many years, in addition to more spacious, we asked Christine Park, Cadillac’s interior design manager and the designer of the XTS interior. According to Park, the inspiration for the XTS interior came from an orchid. “The orchid is a metaphor for elegance and beauty,” Park said, yet also calmness and serenity. “It’s more mature, modern,” she added.
Park points to the idea of layers and layering inside the XTS that allows different, seemingly different shapes or themes to come together in contrast, calling it a “sandwiching effect.”
There’s no doubt the XTS Platinum concept’s styling is a little softer than what we’ve seen from Cadillac over the past several years with the sharper edges and crisp styling of its Art & Science design theme. Nesbitt commented that the concept sedan puts “more emphasis on the art side of Art & Science.”
Another attribute that not only makes the XTS interior more distinctive, compared to other luxury sedans, but also more spacious, is the unusual contouring of the instrument panel. Instead of it curving closely around the driver and front passenger, the dash bows out toward the corner of the car, which Park describes as a “blossoming effect,” again leading back to the orchid theme.
One of the most memorable details of the new XTS Platinum Concept is its frameless glass windows—an arrangement that Subaru recently phased out and currently only used in a few mainstream sedans including the Volkswagen CC. According to Cadillac design director Clay Dean, the automaker is contemplating an application of this in a production version, as it’s “a cleaner, more elegant solution” from a design perspective. “It suggests something pure, cleaner, more expressive,” and leads to a lighter cabin, he added.
Both the frameless windows and another feature, the vertically stacked headlamps, reach back to Cadillac models of the 1960s and ‘70s. While vertical tail lamps have been a Cadillac trait for decades, it hasn’t always been true for headlamps (though it’s been teased with other concepts, including the 2003 Cadillac Sixteen flagship concept), and the XTS has lamps that are stretched upward and back. Dean said that in Cadillacs to come, we’ll be seeing “more of this vertical story, more with lighting and details.” The door handles, illuminated in bright white,
Although nothing’s been announced yet about production, the Cadillac XTS platinum is expected to replace both the Cadillac STS and DTS sedans for 2012 or 2013, built on a stretched version of GM’s Epsilon II platform that also underpins the 2010 Buick LaCrosse.