For too long, American luxury hasn't stood for much in the motoring world. While from BMW and Mercedes churned out a steady flow of forward thinking flagships, Cadillac and Lincoln spent decades hanging on to outdated notions of what makes a luxury car. It seems something has finally twigged in boardrooms around Detroit, and a slew of recent concept and production cars suggest American luxury is undergoing a modern resurgence. The Cadillac Escala Concept is yet more proof.
Escala (Spanish for "scale") is a clear statement of where Cadillac wants to take its next generation of cars. Although the marque has a big sedan already, this would neatly slide in above it in the range. More is always better in the world of halo cars, and the CT6 is reasonably restrained in its design anyway, so it's not too much of a stretch to imagine the Escala taking the flagship position in Caddy's lineup.
Although it's instantly recognizable as a Cadillac, the Escala takes the brand's modern design cues and makes them that little bit fancier. The deep-set headlights have been made over with OLED elements for a more sinister look, while the grille and 22-inch wheels have been designed to look complex and layered. Sitting on a 210.5 inch (5.35 m) wheelbase, it's 6 inches (15 cm) longer than the brand's current flagship. Good thing, too, because the CT6 might be fit for a king, but this looks fit for a dictator.
It's certainly handsome, but we think Cadillac could have done more to make it stand out against cars like the Lincoln Continental launched in Detroit this year. Perhaps the exterior designers were sandbagging and trying to make the cabin the star of the show because inside is where the Escala really shines. The front half of the cabin, where the real work is done, puts the emphasis on cramming as much tech in as possible, while the rear seats are designed to deliver on comfort.
That means the driver is faced with three curved OLED screens, sitting in place of a traditional instrument cluster and center console. Each display is backed with stitched leather, and the screens preview the infotainment systems set to debut on the next generation of Cadillacs.
Voice and gesture control are both a part of the package, but a rotary controller does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to input, hopefully spelling an end to the reign of the current CUE system.
Aside from the layered screens, the rest of the cabin is stock-standard luxury concept. Leather has been used throughout, and suit-style fabric provides a unique coating for the door pulls and seat backs. Just make sure you get it steam cleaned every new and then, or your workmates will know you're outfit repeating...
The whole package is built around Cadillac's luxury car architecture, making use of the same intelligent mix of materials that keeps the CT6 light. Power comes from a twin-turbo 4.2-liter V8 motor with cylinder deactivation. At the moment it's just a prototype, so there's no power figures available, but stay tuned for more information if it's actually slotted into a production model.
Even though it's a concept, the Escala looks close to production ready. It's built on an existing architecture, uses an engine that actually exists and doesn't use absurd materials inside. We wouldn't be surprised to see a production version appearing in the future. For now, the concept is on display at the Pebble Beach Concept d'Elegance.
If it arrives, a showdown with the Lincoln Continental is inevitable. If that's not a clash to prove American luxury is back, nothing is.