The Road to Celestiq: A Look Back at Cadillac’s Previous Ultra-Luxury Concepts


The unveiling of the Celestiq is a watershed moment for Cadillac as the concept previews their next flagship sedan, which aims to restore them to “world standard”.

While the Celestiq is sure to turn heads, Cadillac has been toying with the idea of ​​a flagship for nearly two decades. Some of these efforts were more serious than others, but they resulted in some amazing concepts along the way.

Sixteen Concept puts Cadillac back on the map

There’s no better place to start than the Sixteen concept, which debuted at the 2003 North American International Auto Show. The model still looks amazing today and it was equipped with a 13.6-liter V16 engine developing 1,000 hp (746 kW / 1,014 hp).

These weren’t the only big numbers associated with the car as it was 223.3 inches (5,672 mm) long, just 3.7 inches (94 mm) shorter than the modern Escalade ESV. Add in 24-inch wheels and a sleek but understated cabin, and the Sixteen was everything you could want in a Cadillac flagship.

Ciel marked a return to the elegance of the drop top

Nearly a decade later, the Ciel debuted in 2011 as “the ultimate open-air expression of American luxury.” Billed as a “modern reimagining” of Cadillac’s previous four-seat convertibles, the Ciel was named after the French word for “sky” and featured a sleek exterior with flowing lines, suicide doors and 22-inch wheels. backed up by a carbon ceramic braking system.

The premium styling continued in the cabin with cut-and-sew leather seats, hand-picked olive wood trim, brushed aluminum accents and even a cigar humidor. The model was also a true four-seater thanks to a generous 125-inch (3,175 mm) wheelbase, which was 9 inches (229 mm) longer than the CT5.

While the Ciel didn’t have a V16, it featured a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 with hybrid technology. It is said to have produced 425 hp (317 kW / 431 PS).

Elmiraj was a Grand Tourer for a new generation

Two years later, Cadillac introduced the stunning Elmiraj grand tourer. Inspired by the Eldorado, the concept was imagined as a coupe for a new generation of luxury buyers.

The model followed in the footsteps of the old Ciel and featured a refined design as well as an all-new mesh grille. Measuring 205 inches (5,207 mm) long, the concept had a plush 2+2 interior with leather and Brazilian rosewood.

Under the hood, the Elmiraj featured a twin-turbocharged 4.5-liter V8 developing around 500 hp (373 kW / 507 hp) and 500 lb-ft (677 Nm) of torque.

The Escala concept has almost reached production

L’Escala followed in 2016 as a “potential addition to our existing product plan”. Touted as a larger, more expressive companion to the CT6, the model was described as an “indulgent flagship sedan” despite its practical hatchback design.

Inside, there were three curved OLED screens that will look familiar to anyone who spent time in the latest Escalade. They were joined by a rear seat entertainment system as well as a tablet-like controller. Other highlights included leather and cashmere upholstery along with brushed aluminum accents and American walnut wood trim.

Power was provided by a twin-turbocharged 4.2-liter V8 engine, featuring Active Fuel Management technology. This allowed the engine to deactivate four cylinders to reduce fuel consumption and emissions when maximum performance was not required.

The Escala got frustrated near production as the model was originally meant to run on the Omega platform that debuted on the CT6. However, over time, consumer preferences changed and it no longer made sense to offer an assortment of cars when customers wanted crossovers. As a result, the Omega-based range folded like a house of cards and that meant the CT6 was the sole survivor.

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