Road to Celeste: A look back at Cadillac’s previous ultra-luxury concepts
The Celestiq reveal marks a watershed moment for Cadillac as the model previews the upcoming flagship sedan, which aims to return it to “the world’s standard.”
While the Celestiq is bound 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 led to some amazing concepts along the way.
Sixteen concept puts Cadillac on the map
There’s no better place to start than with the Sixteen Concept, which debuted at the North American International Auto Show in 2003. The model still looks stunning today and featured a 13.6-liter V16 engine producing 1,000 hp (746 kW / 1,014 hp) .
These weren’t the only big numbers associated with the car as it measures 223.3 inches (5,672 mm) in length, just 3.7 inches (94 mm) shorter than a modern Escalade ESV. Throw in 24-inch wheels and an upscale, yet simple cabin, and the Sixteen was everything you could wish for in a Cadillac flagship.
Back torrent record to drop the highest elegance
Nearly a decade later, Ciel debuted in 2011 as “the ultimate outdoor expression of American luxury.” Described as a “modern reimagining” of previous Cadillac four-seat convertibles, Ciel is named after the French word for “sky” and features a sleek exterior with flowing lines, suicide doors and 22-inch wheels backed by a carbon ceramic braking system.
The refined design continues in the cabin thanks to the cut-and-stitched leather seats, hand-picked olive wood trim, brushed aluminum accents, and even the cigar humidor. The model was also suitable for four seats thanks to a wheelbase of 125 inches (3175 mm), which is 9 inches (229 mm) longer than the CT5.
While the Ciel lacks a V16, it is equipped with a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 that features hybrid technology. It is said to have produced 425 hp (317 kW / 431 hp).
The Mirage was a luxury tourist model for a new generation
Two years later, Cadillac introduced the stunning Elmiraj Grand Tourer. Inspired by the Eldorado, the concept was envisioned as a coupe for a new generation of luxury buyers.
The model followed in the footsteps of the previous Ciel and featured a refined design as well as an all-new mesh grille. Measuring 205 inches (5207 mm) tall, the interior was a gorgeous 2+2 with leather and Brazilian rosewood.
Under the hood, the Elmiraj is fitted with a 4.5-liter twin-turbo V8 that puts out an estimated 500 hp (373 kW/507 hp) and 500 lb-ft (677 Nm) of torque.
Escala concept has almost reached production
Escala followed up in 2016 as a “potential addition to our existing product plan.” Described as a larger, more expressive companion to the CT6, the model has been described as a “forgiving sedan” despite its practical, rear-wheel drive design.
Inside, there were three curved OLED screens that will look familiar to anyone who has spent time in the latest Escalade. They are joined by a back-seat entertainment system as well as a tablet-like controller. Other highlights included leather and cashmere upholstery as well as brushed aluminum accents and American Walnut trim.
Power was provided by a 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8, which features Active Fuel Management technology. This engine enabled four cylinders to be deactivated to reduce fuel consumption and emissions when maximum performance was not required.
The Escala came frustratingly close to production as it was originally scheduled to ride on the Omega platform that debuted the CT6. However, as the story goes, consumer preferences have been changing and it no longer makes sense to offer a variety of cars when customers want crossovers. As a result, the Omega-based lineup was folded like a house of cards meaning CT6 was the only survivor.