Cadillac released its first V8 in 1914, making it the first major automaker to ever mass produce the engine. And for a long time, when Cadillacs didn’t have a V8 — think Cimarron and Catera — bad things happened. The brand has figured out how to do more with less lately with winners like the ATS and its 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6, but the range-topping CT6 sedan is on its way, and in order to compete with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi like it wants to, it needs to go back to its big guns. The company announced that a V8 would be available when the CT6 debuted at last year’s New York Auto Show, but until very recently, we didn’t have many details.
Now that we do, Cadillac’s flagship is beginning to look even more competitive. While the CTS-V shares its 6.2-liter LT4 powerplant with the Chevy Corvette, this new mill will be the first Cadillac-exclusive V8 since the Northstar left production in 2010. Speaking with Car and Driver, Cadillac chief Johan de Nysschen revealed that the new twin-turbo engine will displace 4.2-liters, and produce well upwards of 400 horsepower. Importantly, it has no commonality with the LT4, meaning that once again, Cadillac is the only GM brand with its own V8.
As Car and Driver points out, the choice of a 4.2-liter engine is a surprising one. In China — a market that Cadillac is intent on cracking — taxes are levied on V8s that have larger than four liters of displacement. According to de Nysschen, the brand is unconcerned; demand for V8-powered cars is so low in China that the big motor shouldn’t cause any problems. Besides, the CT6’s available turbo-four and pair of V6s should be more than enough to keep it competitive.
The CT6 is a big leap forward for Cadillac as it tries to return to the vanguard of the full-size luxury sedan segment, a position it hasn’t truly held since the 1970s. The new V8 should certainly help; unlike previous attempts at relevancy, the new mill could help make the CT6 the right car at exactly the right time. The ’90s-era Northstar was a capable engine, but it was squandered on a succession of increasingly bland front-wheel drive Caddies. After decades in the wilderness, Cadillac finally seems to have learned how to play the Germans’ game, and its latest flagship has all the markings of a contender.
When Cadillac announced CT6 pricing last November, it positioned the car in a unique place between Audi, BMW, and Mercedes’ mid-size lineup and their range-toppers. In base trim, a CT6 could be had for just under $55,000, right around where we expect the 2017 Mercedes E-Class to start. The car will top out in the mid-$80K range, right about where the BMW 7-Series and Audi A8 start, but still thousands less than the Mercedes S-Class. We expect the V8 CT6 to reside at the upper end of the price spectrum, but if it undercuts its V8-powered German rivals by enough, it could make for one hell of a deal.
The CT6 is a big, opulent, rear-wheel drive sedan that combines old-school Cadillac luxury with the tech and sportiness that the Germans have long lorded over the American brand. With a big V8 returning to the fold, Cadillac’s latest best shot just got better. It’s way too soon for the company to declare victory with the CT6, but we can’t wait to get our hands on one with the big motor.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.