Henry Payne Blog

Cartoon: Super Bowl Denver Defense

Posted by hpayne on February 8, 2016

020816_SuperBowlDenverD_COLOR

Cartoon: Hillary on Benghazi and Flint

Posted by hpayne on February 8, 2016

020716_HillaryFlintBenghazi_COLOR

Cartoon: Hillary and Flint Water Crisis

Posted by hpayne on February 8, 2016

020716_HillaryFlintImmoral_COLOR

Payne, Q&Auto: Fiat chief’s new toys

Posted by hpayne on February 6, 2016

Broderdorf_fiat124 “I’m a muscle car junkie with the Dodge Challenger,” says Bob Broderdorf, ex-chief of the Fiat-Chrysler performance car brand. “To deliver those cars – Hellcats, 392s – I’m very passionate. My dad had an old Barracuda. Woodward Dream Cruise is what I got excited about growing up.” Now Broderdorf is packaging excitement in a much smaller box. The 37-year-old Detroit native is the new captain of Fiat North America. He inherits an iconic Italian name that has struggled in the U.S. even as it has filled out its menu with more Yankee-friendly dishes like the Fiat 500X crossover – and received unexpected endorsements from a 500L-chauffered pope. Don’t ask Broderdorf about Pope Francis (always best not to mix religion and cars), but he’ll talk ’til sundown about the summer arrival of Fiat’s next big – er, little – thing: the 124 Spider. Broderdorf was handpicked by FCA car QB Tim Kuniskis to run Fiat, and it’s easy to see why. The two men share a youthful energy marked by a machine-gun delivery of facts and figures. And if Broderdorf can sprinkle some of that Hellcat marketing magic on Fiat, then the Spider will charm Dream Cruisers everywhere. I sat down with Broderdorf in Los Angeles to talk Fiats, Miatas and Minis. Q: Your first car? Broderdorf: Dodge Neon. Q: The 124 was originally conceived as an Alfa. Now a Fiat. Why? Broderdorf: Anytime you have an opportunity to have a partnership to launch a car like this – the 124 Spider – this is a platform that allowed us to do that. The idea of paying homage to the past... plays really well to what we have done previously for the Fiat brand. Q: The last 124 was made until 1985. How many sold? Broderdorf: In 1966 it was first announced in Italy. Then (from 1968-1985) it came here. Over that time frame, 170,000 were sold in the U.S. market – by far the most of the 200,000 they sold overall. It was a big deal here. Q: Where will the new, Mazda Miata-based 124 be built? Broderdorf: Hiroshima, Japan. Building it there leverages the platform to build two unique interpretations of the car. There are lots of synergies that the platform enables. Both (Miata and 124) have taken a different spin at the rear-wheel drive roadster. We wanted to make sure that if you put that badge on this car there is a whole cult following that is really excited about it. There is still a (U.S.) owner’s club with 8,000 members. If we can play the heartstrings of those people... then we are on the right track. Q: Engine shared with the Abarth? Broderdorf: Powertrain is 100 percent Italian. 1.4-liter Multi-air – 160 horsepower mated with automatic and manual transmissions. Q: Throwback styling? Broderdorf: It starts with face of the car. The old Spider had the hexagonal gril – that very clear face. Fiats overall are pleasant, not overly aggressive, very concentrated. Headlamps and taillights play homage to that. And the side of the car had a horizontal line from fender to the rear – we maintained that. Even where the license plate is bracketed plays homage to the original car, but we still put a modern twist on it. Q: You have a compact, a sports car, two crossovers... How have sales gone with the X? Broderdorf: We’re happy with sales. Making great progress. We’re getting buyers into the marketplace – they are taking a look at it. The key piece is all-wheel drive. A lot of our sales come in the southern markets. To get the northern markets on board we need the AWD feature. Q: Like your close competitor Mini Cooper, will Fiat always be a small brand? Broderdorf: There is a fine line between niche and mainstream. The most important thing for Fiat is (that people say) the number one reason to buy is “fun to drive.” When we stay in that vein, we grow. But we need to build cars the right way – that’s more important than just hammering down volume. Q: Is California important for you? Broderdorf: This is my No. One market in the U.S. It’s important to be here. There is a trendy cool factor. If things take off here in California – particularly some of your urban markets – then some of the cities like New York, Miami, New York will most quickly adopt to it. The original announcement of the brand was here.

Cartoon: Rand Paul Drops out

Posted by hpayne on February 5, 2016

020516_RandPaulOut_COLOR

Cartoon: Miners Aid

Posted by hpayne on February 5, 2016

020416_MinersAid_COLOR

Cartoon: Groundhog Trump

Posted by hpayne on February 5, 2016

020516_TrumpGroundhog_COLOR

Payne: Hyundai Elantra gets more tech, less style

Posted by hpayne on February 4, 2016

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra is still available at Kmart I think I speak for red-blooded males everywhere when I say we wish Angelina Jolie would do her “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” thing every six years. But after that turn, Ms. Jolie — determined to build her resume as an important actress — expanded into roles with less curvy costumes, like determined mom Christine Collins in the 2008 film “Changeling.” That role earned her an Oscar nomination, if not the hearts of red-blooded males. Which is kind of where we are with the Hyundai Elantra. You’ll remember the popular Ms. Elantra from her sexy 2011 turn as the siren of compact sedans. Folks couldn’t get enough of this hot little number with its curvy hips, cheekbones and big come-hither headlamps. The Elantra sold like, well, like tickets to “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.” Six years later and Elantra has ridden its lovely curves to third-best seller in the segment behind only the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. It’s made its name. Time to explore more mature wardrobes to showcase its other skills — like sophisticated handling, high-tech accessories and a hushed interior. I give you the restrained, handsome 2017 Elantra. Plain, lightly-creased hips, small headlamps — a car distinguished by the family’s trademark full mouth established by luxury sibling Genesis. Hello, you must be Genesis Jr. Which is probably a good thing, because Elantra — like everything else in compacts these days — is walking upwind into the full fury of King Civic. Civic (you’ll recall frommy fan boy ravings last October) just dropped a bomb on the segment. Stung by criticism that its beloved compact had become bland vanilla, Honda unleashed an army of designers, engineers and marketeers to create a masked, swoopy 2016 Civic superhero benchmarked against the Audi A3. The Civic will run circles around mere mortal compacts while getting best-in-class fuel economy, best interior volume and first-in-class Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. And if that’s not enough, it’ll come in a sedan, wagon, coupe, hotter Si and hottest Type R configurations. It’s North American Car of the Year. Car & Driver Top 10. First-Team All-Everything. Next to the Civic, the more understated Elantra looks like Civic’s nerdy-if-not-unattractive college roommate. After all, car companies can only muster the resources for epic re-inventions every so often. For its ’17 remake, the Elantra may not rip up the red carpet, but it will solidify itself as one of the best role players in the segment. How far Hyundai has come. I remember my first Detroit auto show in 2000 when my kids asked to see “the most affordable thing on the floor,” and I took them to see tinny Hyundais with manual roll-up windows and Kmart prices. Elantra is still a Blue Light Special, but it now boasts technology features that luxury makers shouted about not long ago. It was just a year ago that we car guys were drooling over the new, midsized, $38,950 Genesis luxury sedan and its bag of tricks including adaptive cruise-control, lane-keep-assist and voice-control navigation. The fully equipped, $27,710 Elantra Limited can match that and more. Class-first mirror-and-seat-memory settings. Class-first rear-heated seats. Class-best cabin quiet. I’d applaud its Apple Car Play-Android Auto feature, too, but the system on my test car was glitchy and lacked the dexterity of systems in the Civic or Chevy Cruze/Volt. But remember, this is a compact car that starts at just $17,985. The firsts are all the more impressive because King Civic has selfishly set the standard for virtually every other stat in its class, from rear-seat room to tying your shoelaces in the morning (OK, I made up that last one). In short, if it’s a Civic you want — but without the Hollywood styling and with buttons for infotainment (I’ve seen grown men run screaming out of Civics after a day operating its slider volume controls) — then the Elantra is your cup of Joe. In its quest to be a big player in one of the dog-eat-dogiest spaces in the market, Elantra has solidified its place as a must-drive, all-around player in the league with the enduring Civic, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla. Personally, I am a hatch guy and my compact druthers tend toward the more athletic Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf. But this is also an area where new-gen Elantra really focused itself. Though it did not get a full makeover like the Civic, Elantra has gained considerable stiffness with more high-strength steel and a 40-fold increase in structural adhesives. The changes were immediately evident through San Diego’s Cuyamaga Mountains, which may be the most-traveled testing roads in the country. I’ve flogged the Golf R, Porsche Panamera and Cayenne Cadillac CT6 there in the past year to prove their handling chops. With Hyundai’s North America CEO Dave Zuchowski in the back seat, Car & Driver’s Ron Sessions and I took turns trying to make him dizzy by hurling the eager Elantra from switchback to switchback. Sessions was particularly merciless — driving like his pants were on fire — but Zuchowski was having as much fun as we were. Only at the hard limit did the Elantra’s rear, torsion-beam suspension cry uncle (hey, Hyundai’s gotta save money somewhere), but Hyundai will address that in the upcoming Sport model which will get an independent rear suspension as well as a much-needed, 200-horsepower mill upgrade from the Elantra’s 2.0-liter, 148-horsepower engine (an Eco model gets a mousy 124-horse, 1.4-liter turbo four). Which is a good start. Because to ultimately compete against King Civic, Hyundai will have to commit to a full compact army. Civic dominates the segment because it not only makes a great appliance, but it can also go toe-to-toe against the segment athletes like VW GTI and Subaru WRX with the Civic Si and Type R. Like a well-rounded actor, Elantra will be a segment giant when it fills out its portfolio with more performance variants. In the meantime, however, it is checking the right boxes from safety to tech to chassis development. All for an attractive Kmart price. And I’m betting that, like Ms. Jolie, the Elantra is still saving a slinky suit in its closet. ’17 Hyundai Elantra Vehicle type: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, five-passenger sedan Price: $17,985 base ($27,710 Limited model as tested) Powerplant: 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder Power: 147 horsepower, 132 pound-feet of torque Transmission: Six-speed automatic; six-speed automatic (as tested) Performance: 0-60 mph (NA) Weight: 2,767 base (2,976 lbs. Limited model as tested) Fuel economy: EPA 26 mpg city/36 mpg highway/29 combined (base manual); EPA 29 mpg city/38 mpg highway/33 combined (base automatic); EPA 28 mpg city/37 mpg highway/32 combined (Limited automatic) Report card Highs: Fun to drive despite solid rear-beam; a compact with memory seats/mirror! Lows: Sexless compared to previous gen; almost as good as a Civic Overall:★★★

Cartoon: Regulations Tackle Economy

Posted by hpayne on February 3, 2016

020316_EconomyTackleRegs_COLOR

Cartoon: Sanders or Hillary Food

Posted by hpayne on February 3, 2016

0201416_SandersHillaryFood_COLOR

Consolidating power: New GM race engine facility

Posted by hpayne on February 3, 2016

Aerial View of GM Powertrain Engineering Center Pontiac — “You can’t rest a second in this sport,” General Motors Vice President of Motorsports Jim Campbell said Tuesday. Just two days after Corvette’s dominating 1-2 class finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, GM unveiled a state-of-the-art Powertrain Performance and Racing Center that will further turbocharge one of the world’s most formidable race engine development programs. The center’s 82 engineers and staff members will move from Wixom into a 111,420-square-foot facility connected to GM’s sprawling Global Powertrain Engineering Center. That will concentrate the company’s engine know-how under one roof. Part of a $200 million investment in the Pontiac campus, the consolidation leverages the resources at the Powertrain Center, enabling faster technology transfer between GM’s racing and production-vehicle powertrains. “This is a big statement about our commitment to racing and what we’re doing to do in the future,” said Dan Nicholson, vice president of GM Global Powertrain. “As storied as our history is in racing, we believe our best days are ahead of us.” That commitment was echoed by NASCAR star and Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman, who joined the executives at the opening. In addition to the 500-horsepower V-8s that powered the Corvettes around Daytona’s 180 mph-plus bankings, the Performance and Racing team develops engines for NHRA drag racing, IndyCar, Pirelli World Challenge Cadillacs — and the NASCAR “R07” mill for Chevy-powered teams like Newman’s Richard Childress Racing. Newman, a trained engineer, has spent countless hours at the old Wixom facility developing the 358-cubic-inch V-8 designed and developed for NASCAR. “One of the biggest things we work on is getting the vibration out, especially at the RPMs we are running,” said Newman. “At Daytona we’re going from 8,500 rpm in the turns to up to 9,200 in the straightaway. We want to make sure we are optimized in that range. We’re taking technology to the nth degree — and this facility gives us the opportunities and the people to do that.” The new facility incorporates the latest engine-assembly, engine-testing and calibration equipment. Highlights include: ■Ten new engine-build bays. ■Thirty machining tools, offering complete machining capability for cylinder blocks, cylinder heads, fuel rails and other components. ■Four engine dynamometer cells capable of handling 12,000 rpm, 1,000 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. When the Powertrain Performance and Racing Center opens in July, those four cells will bring the total number of dynos in the Powertrain Center to 120. It’s part of a decades-long push by GM to concentrate its engine resources as well as attract the industry’s best engineering talent. “GM’s technology transfer between racing and production is a two-way street,” says Nicholson. “We have production lessons learned that we transfer to racing and racing lessons learned that we transfer to production. Having these two teams located in Pontiac will turn this two-way street into a superhighway.” In addition to the race development wing, the 645,000-square-foot powertrain plant — the largest industrial facility in Pontiac — develops gas engines, fuel cells and hybrid-electrification systems and transmissions.

Cartoon: Iowa Vote

Posted by hpayne on February 2, 2016

020116_IowaVoteBath_COLOR

Cartoon: Cruz Wins Iowa

Posted by hpayne on February 2, 2016

020216_CruzWinsIowa_COLOR

Cartoon: Flint Government and Sanders

Posted by hpayne on January 30, 2016

013016_FlintGovtSanders_COLOR

Cartoon: Flint EPA Threat

Posted by hpayne on January 30, 2016

013016_FlintEPAThreat_COLOR

Payne: Jaguar XF, Goddess of Beauty

Posted by hpayne on January 29, 2016

The XF's iconic face and shape are industry standards, The gorgeous, all-new 2016 Jaguar XF in my driveway looks oddly familiar. Credit the big cat’s influence on automotive design. The XF shape is the Aphrodite of autos. The Goddess of Beauty. Unveiled to swooning audiences in 2007, the goddess’s iconic face and shape became instant industry standards, emulated by other makes from the Tesla Model S to the Lincoln Continental to the Chevy Malibu. Like Gwen Stefani groupies, we see the XF influence every day. Just as the Ford Fusion’s savvy adaption of Aston Martin’s grill made seeing an Aston less shocking, so has Jaguar envy made its look more routine. Still, like seeing English royalty in the flesh, the real thing still begs us to linger a moment to evaluate the famous details. The sensual curve of the hips. The sculpted lip of the grille. The alluring, cupped tail-light LEDs. The 2007 model was such a design sensation that the folks in Coventry have changed it only subtly for ’16 — a more vertical grille here, less front overhang there — focusing their attention instead on the all-new aluminum architecture that saves weight and increases interior room. Dress it in British Racing Green like my tester and the vision is complete. I am the celebrity’s bodyguard. “You brought me my dream car,” said my car-gal neighbor as I cruised the neighborhood one day. I get that a lot. But then fans drive the XF like it’s a Faberge egg. Don’t. This royal carriage wants to be ridden. Hard. With rear-wheel drive, 50-50 weight balance, and a stiffer chassis more than 100 pounds lighter than the last steel generation, Jaguar is making cars that live up to its namesake’s athleticism. “From an engineering perspective, our targets with the all-new XF were bound by one holistic goal,” says Jaguar designer Ian Callum. “It had to do everything better, and it does.” When I wasn’t urging friends to drive the Jag harder, I spent my first days with supercharged V-6 XF seeking out Oakland County’s curves (and thinking how to explain to any oncoming officer why the Jag was coming at him at such lurid angles. “Hello, officer. You want some time behind the wheel?”) But then winter intruded, as inevitably happens in Michigan in January. Suddenly it didn’t matter that the Jaguar was gorgeous because I couldn’t see it under two inches of snow and a layer of salt grime. Worse, I figured my joy-riding would turn to finger-nail-biting as I dared take the 340-horsepower, rear-wheel-drive goddess out onto treacherous roads full of slip-sliding commuters. Readers of this column know that I recommend AWD in luxury brands for just this reason – otherwise you have a lovely date you only want to take out six months a year. But one of the pleasant surprises of the rear-drive cat is how impressive its claws are on ice. The engineers call it All-Surface Progress Control that “enables smooth, effortless drive-away on low-friction surfaces such as snow and ice — all the driver has to do is steer.” Sure enough, the Jaguar was unperturbed in a climate more suited to a snow leopard. The RWD system was surprisingly smooth, its computer measuring slip and applying the right amount of grip to manage hostile terrain. No rear-slewing, tire-spinning slogs out of stoplights. No unnerving rear step-outs around corners. So determined was I to get the XF out of shape, I sought out a local, snow-packed parking lot where the XF continued to hold its head high even as I turned off traction control and did everything I could to make it spin like a top. The big kitty stayed on its feet. Outside, the XF’s stance benefits from a two-inch-longer wheelbase that pushes the front wheels out to the corners without increasing the car’s overall length. Inside, this benefits aging basketball forwards like yours truly with best-in-class rear legroom. But as impressive as the Jaguar’s interior is, it also shows how much digital technology has narrowed the gap between luxe and mainstream. The XF’s rotary dial-shifter and Apple Car Play-Android Auto-connected, eight-inch console are done better by Chrysler’s 200, for example (though I never tire of the rotary knob rising from the console on startup like a game-show button). Heated rear seats? Adaptive cruise control? Self-parking? All can be found on vehicles costing half the XF. So let me recommend you splurge on the XF’s $3,100 technology package, which will give you the faster, fully-digital, 12.3-inch instrument display and 10.3-inch console screen. Throw in another $3,100 for driver-assist tech and your Jag will do pet tricks like regulating itself according to speed limits. Now that’s luxury to impress Aphrodite. ‘16 Jaguar XF Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear or all-wheel-drive, five-passenger sedan Price: $52,895 base ($74,785 supercharged V-6 R Sport as tested) Powerplant: 3.0-liter, supercharged V-6 Power: 340 horsepower, 332 pound-feet of torque; 380 horsepower, 332 pound-feet of torque Transmission: Eight-speed automatic Performance: 0-60 mph, 5.2 (manufacturer, 340-hp V-6 as tested) Weight: 4,085 pounds (AWD twin-turbo V6); 3,657 pounds (RWD turbo-4) Fuel economy: EPA 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway/24 combined Report card Highs: Easy on the eyes; RWD traction in the toughest conditions Lows: Sub-par base infotainment screen; Same price as a full-size Caddy CT6 Overall:★★★<EL,3> Grading scale Excellent ★★★★

Cartoon: Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump Debate

Posted by hpayne on January 28, 2016

012716_TrumpDebateMegyn_COLOR

Cartoon: Democrat Diversity Boycott

Posted by hpayne on January 28, 2016

012616_DemDiversityBoycott_COLOR

Payne: State-of-the-art Cadillac CT6 sedan

Posted by hpayne on January 28, 2016

dr28-cadillaccoverblue-0116n Let’s talk big sedans. Sleds, boats, land yachts. Leather-stuffed boulevard limousines popularized by the Big Three in the 1950s and later refined by the Teutonic trio of BMW, Mercedes and Audi. The flagships of luxury, they represent the rise of graceful European luxury and the decline of Detroit’s dinosaurs. Which is why I am driving a 2016 Cadillac CT6 around the Cuyamaca Mountains east of San Diego. Not just driving it; wringing its neck. The tires squall as I rotate the 203-inch-long sedan like a two-door coupe through a 110-degree right-hander. In “Sport” mode, the car’s computer keeps the twin-turbos spooled at 3,000 rpm in third gear. I floor it on exit from the turn, and the 3.0-liter six roars its approval, leaping like a big cat. Brembo brakes haul it to Earth before the next cliff-carved curve. I’d pity the passenger in the plush rear seat, but I’m joy-riding, not limo-commuting. Joy-riding? Squalling tires? Time to reset all you know about Cadillac. CT6 designer Taki Karras likes to say the chrome chin of the CT6 is a tip of the hat to the legendary, Corsair-fighter-inspired, 1956 Coupe Deville. Yeah, OK. If I squint a little. A lot, actually. Because the CT6 resembles nothing in Cadillac’s antiquated land-yacht past. This hasn’t happened overnight. Cadillac telegraphed the CT6 like a Bugs Bunny windup haymaker. The Alpha platform that is the foundation for the compact ATS and midsize CTS (and exquisite Chevy Camaro) is widely admired as the best small platform around. Further stiffened with a batwing brace and motivated by one of Caddy’s new twin-turbo mills, the ATS-V performance sedan is the first competitor to make BMW’s M3 sweat. Let’s talk big sedans. The CT6 is the state-of-the-art in four-door design today. It not only shames Cadillac’s outgoing front-wheel-drive XTS, it exceeds the Germans’ high bar. Consider the specs on CT6’s clean-sheet Omega chassis: Mixed aluminum and steel frame. Single-cast A-pillars reducing 35 parts to a single, high-strength unit. There are 3,073 alloy spot-welds, 591 feet of structural adhesives, 13 high-pressure castings for a 20 percent parts reduction. The result is a stiff, 3,657-pound base car that is a staggering 600 pounds lighter than a comparable Mercedes S-Class. Call it Cadillac Lite. So lightweight is the full-size CT6 that it tips the scales 58 pounds shy of its midsized CTS sibling and 38 pounds lighter than a Camaro SS. Wrap your head around that for a moment: Cadillac’s flagship sedan weighs less than the featherweight of the muscle car coupe class. The general leading this big car revolution is Cadillac President Johann de Nysschen, a big man himself. At 6-foot-3, the commanding South African looks like he could have led elephant safaris in his native land. De Nysschen’s double-barreled CT6 exhaust is aimed right at the heart of German luxury dominance: S-Class, BMW 7-series, Audi A8. “Why are we making a large sedan?” asks de Nysschen rhetorically at a time when Cadillac is investing billions in SUVs (along with Jaguar, Maserati, Bentley — even Lamborghini, for goodness sake) to slake consumers’ thirst for high-riding Conestoga wagons. “Because our technology is leading the charge in taking on the world’s finest. We know that if we take them on in a segment there they are strong, that is the fastest way to build back our reputation.” Those are bold words backed up by a bold car. But not bold in the old tail-finned, chrome-encrusted Trump Tower sort of way. This Cadillac does more with less, starting with a sticker price $20,000 south of the Mercedes S-class. Where the Mercedes needs a big V-8 to motivate its 4,600 pounds, the CT6’s twin-turbo V-6 will do for 4,000 pounds, thank you very much. So light is the CT6 that the base rear-wheel drive model comes with the same 265 horsepower turbo 4 that is the most popular CTS engine because — ahem — the CT6 is lighter by 100 pounds. Happily, the big Caddy’s inner sanctum is buffered against all this hard-core performance engineering. Sealed in silence, passengers ride on a flying carpet of leather seats and road-absorbing magnetic shocks. The rear seat acreage could easily fit a reclining giraffe, and are heated and adjustable. The front thrones are predictably comfortable, but more importantly Cadillac has worked hard to address console issues that have haunted it for years. An upset CTS owner approached us at a pit stop along the route to complain of his decade-old Caddy’s cheap chassis construction and chipping paint icons. He brightened up when he learned of the CT6’s body-by-Jake exercise routine — and its upgraded graphics, digital displays and Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility. And if Cadillac stubbornly sticks with its CUE infotainment system, at least its touchscreen response now approximates a smartphone rather than an old ATM. Not all upgrades are welcome, however. My media colleagues and I went cross-eyed trying CT6’s much-ballyhooed rear-camera mirror. Back to the drawing board, boys. Pleasing, however, is the car’s conservative cut-and-sewn leather dash. That restraint is also evident on the car’s exterior where chief designer Karras refined Cadillac’s sharp edges. A CT6 grille looming in your mirrors commands respect. The rear end, however, is so conservative as to be undistinguished. The signature vertical taillights have been neutered. Chrome detailing is microscopic. “Is that a Chevy or a Cadillac?” snickered a colleague as we gained on another CT6. This Cadillac could actually benefit from more chrome. “There aren’t many Cadillac customers in Germany now, but our readers are buzzing about Cadillac’s technology,” said a European car-magazine colleague who had made the trip to California. Sixty years after it defined automotive luxury, U.S. manufacturers are leading the way again. And for just $72,000, the all-wheel drive Cadillac CT6 makes a $98,000 Mercedes S-Class 4MATIC feel like a land yacht. ’16 Cadillac CT6 Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear or all-wheel-drive, five-passenger sedan Price: $54,490 base ($72,170 twin-turbo V-6 luxury; $59,590 turbo-4) Powerplant: 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder; 3.6-liter V6; 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 Power: 265 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque (turbo-4); 335 horsepower, 284 pound-feet of torque (V-6); 404 horsepower, 400 pound-feet of torque (twin-turbo V-6) Transmission: Eight-speed automatic Performance: 0-60 mph, 5.1 (twin-turbo V-6, Car & Driver est.) Weight: 4,085 pounds (AWD twin-turbo V6); 3,657 pounds (RWD turbo-4) Fuel economy: EPA 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway (turbo-4); EPA 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway (V-6); EPA 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway (twin-turbo V-6) Report card Highs: Handling of a car two sizes smaller; best Caddy face yet Lows: Disorienting rear camera mirror; blah rear end Overall:★★★★

Cadillac CT6 makes red carpet debut at Oscars

Posted by hpayne on January 27, 2016

The all-new 3.0L Twin Turbo engine offers an estimated Next month’s Academy Awards may be tense with questions about the diversity of actor nominees, but Hollywood’s TV spectacular will be a showcase for greater variety in the U.S. luxury automobile segment. The all-electric, American-made Tesla, not BMW or Mercedes, will be the vehicle of choice for many celebrities arriving on the red carpet. And for the second year in a row, Cadillac will unveil a new ad for the Oscars featuring its most ambitious vehicle yet: the 2016 Cadillac CT6. Billed as the flagship for Detroit’s remade luxury marque, the CT6 takes on the BMW 7-series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 in the premium luxury sedan segment the Teutonic trio has long dominated. Taking a pass on the Super Bowl, Cadillac’s focus on Hollywood’s big night is part of a strategy that confronts European makers where they are strongest – on the East and West coasts where 40 percent of luxury sales are made. That meant relocating Cadillac’s headquarters from Detroit to New York. And it means a CT6 product that aims to out-engineer the German-makers with the most advanced, lightest, best-handling chassis in its class. Scheduled for vehicle delivery in early March shortly after the Oscars, the CT6 will start full production in mid-February in Hamtramck. “If you are a resurgent luxury brand, then the premium luxury sedan market is where you make your bold statement,” said Cadillac President Johann de Nysschen at the Los Angeles media test debut of the CT6 last week. “It’s where our reputation was built. Cadillac is at the forefront of innovation again.” The CT6 is as part of an ambitious, $12 billion product offensive that will bring eight new models to showrooms by 2020. Boasting an all-new Omega platform, the CT6 is on the leading edge of automotive diet plans. Using a combination of steel and aluminum castings and sophisticated bonding techniques, the CT6 uses 20 percent fewer parts than previous Cadillacs. “This is a living and breathing experiment processing techniques that haven’t been used before,” says auto analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific. “It’s also an experiment in what’s coming from Cadillac.” The result is a large sedan that weighs just 3,657 pounds. That’s not only 1,000 pounds less than a comparably sized S-Class, but it is even lighter than a midsize BMW 5-series or sibling Cadillac CTS. The CT6 will also be significantly lighter on the wallet, starting at $53,495, or some $30,000 south of a base 740i. Kelley Blue Book auto analyst Karl Brauer said the latest effort by Cadillac to make a German-rivaling luxury sedan has succeeded. “The CT6 is more engaging to drive than the comparable 7 Series or S-Class sedans that cost tens of thousands more.” The light weight enables Cadillac to install smaller, more efficient turbocharged engines in the CT6 than the big V8s found in German competitors – yet they promise similar power-to-weight rations. The CT6 will come with the same 265-horsepower turbo-4 that has proved popular in the 100 pounds-porkier, mid-size CTS – as well as an all-new, 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 making 404 horsepower. To appeal to Hollywood greens – and Tesla customers – Cadillac also will premiere a plug-in hybrid version later this year. Experts caution the Cadillac brand will have to be patient for blockbuster sales. “Their coastal strategy is good – they’re going where the customers are,” says AutoPacific’s Sullivan. “They’ve been trying for 15 years and we’re looking at another 10 years for this to work. They need a good crossover lineup, and they need more ‘tweener’ models like the Germans.”