Cadillac Celestiq Restoring Brand’s Moxie


Cadillac has been meticulously stoking the fires of the hype train of the Celestiq to ensure the model has a full head of steam before its debut on July 22nd. The forthcoming flagship model is rumored to become the most expensive product in the luxury brand’s 120-year history and will bring back a level of opulence not seen on American cars since the golden era of the 1950s.

Frankly, it sounds like General Motors may be setting expectations a little high — especially since the last handful of Cadillacs haven’t exactly been able to check the luxury box with the kind of gusto necessary for a nameplate that’s supposed to specialize in providing exactly that. The brand’s best offerings now tend to be focused more on performance than comfort and are accompanied by sporting names that include terms like “Blackwing” and “V.” But that may soon change if the latest teasers of the Cadillac Celestiq are anything to go buy, as the company seems to be returning to its roots.

As an American, it’s not really my place to decide what constitutes good taste. We’re the guys that decided oversized tailfins were the pinnacle of automotive fashion and continued incorporating aeronautical designs into cars until jet aircraft became commonplace and the trend became played out. We like excess, going for broke, mixing concepts, and the kind of outside-the-box thinking that can easily result in abominations when it fails to produce an instant classic. We’re mongrels, often ignoring what others think should be to explore what could be.

In that sense, the Celestiq seems to be decidedly American. Cadillac seems to have thrown in everything by the kitchen sink into the long and impressively low-slung fastback. And who cares whether or not it looks good when there’s so much here to distract you?

Clearly designed to best models like the Tesla Model S and forthcoming Mercedes-Benz EQS, the Celestiq’s interior shares more than a few design cues from both. However, the automaker seems to have continued working on the space until it felt confident it had something better to offer. Cadillac isn’t offering interior features and materials on par with high-end rivals, it’s promising to deliver an interior space that would make super-premium brands like Bugatti envious. Cars will be bespoke, with oodles of customization designed to cater to a clientele with particularly deep pockets.

However, Americans also love a bargain and unless the Celestiq offers Rolls-Royce levels of opulence, it’s unlikely to be a stellar value. Rumor has it that the car will start at an eye-watering $300,000, with each being made to order for individual clients and (at least partially) hand-built at GM’s tech center in Warren, Michigan.

Cadillac is trying to recapture the magic that allowed its namesake to become a proxy for describing engineering excellence in all fields. Considering how good the latest round of teasers look, it may even be putting itself in a good position to accomplish that goal. However, there are a few things working against the brand. For starters, the Lyric EV which foreshadowed the Celestiq has become better known for being an adequate EV with a pleasing design rather than the undeniable champion of the battery-electric crossover segment.

Range is another issue. Cadillac has said that the Celestiq’s range will be “at least” 300 miles per charge, whereas Tesla has examples of the Model S that can surpass 400 miles on a good day. Now, GM could elect to increase that number using a larger battery pack. But we’ve heard the model is already using the 100 kWh pack found on the Lyric — so we’re not expecting it to exceed 312 miles between charging breaks until something larger is available.

Flop or float, it’s going to be very interesting to see the vehicle’s official debut later this month. Cadillac is really going out on a limb to deliver something it believes will be truly special as it preps itself for going entirely electric. Whether that means the brand will begin delivering the kind of ultra-luxury vehicles it was famous for in the 1930s (which sold rather poorly during the Great Depression), replicates the understated beauty and swift technological development of the 1940s, or leans into the over-the-top styling witnessed in the 1950s remains to be seen. But it’s going big with this one and its success (or lack thereof) is likely to influence the marque’s direction for the next few years.

[Images: General Motors]

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