Story: Will Sabel Courtney
MORE ART THAN SCIENCE
The Cadillac Ciel dropped at the world-famous Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Carmel, California, where the classiest whips on earth gather every year to celebrate the automobile and get gully. The Ciel is all but tailor-made for the Pebble Beach crowd, the wealthiest of the wealthiest, designed to bring to mind the ostentation of times long past.
But while the basic idea behind this long-tailed land yacht comes from the past, this open-air Caddy is all about the future. The styling is unmistakably Cadillac’s “Art & Science” design scheme, but look closely and you’ll notice this is a different take than you’ll see on a CTS or Escalade: The sides are smoother, the body more organic. With GM telling everyone who’ll listen that the Ciel shows off the future of Cadillac design, don’t be shocked to see these smooth, sultry curves on all sorts of Caddys soon enough.
EYE IN THE SKY
The Ciel’s name is French for “sky,” and that’s exactly what it’s designed to share with up to four people. A “floating” center console stretches through both rows of seats, giving each person his or her own space to chill out, and with a wheelbase one foot longer than a CTS sedan, there’s plenty of room to go around. That console holds four individual “connectivity portals,” designed to give everyone a chance to connect online. For the ultimate in cool-weather flossin’, retractable blankets can be pulled out to provide shelter from the breeze. If that ain’t enough to toast ya, there’s a stocked humidor between the backseats.
But a ride made for showin’ needs more than just little gimmicks to stand the test of time; it needs to be clean and classy, too. In order to keep the Ciel looking fresh long term, Cadillac equipped it with a custom-made paint job dubbed “Cabernet.” The crimson skin is set off by 22-inch billet aluminum rims, plated in brushed nickel for that extra floss. The exterior color flows over the sides of the doors onto the interior, where it contrasts with Italian Olive wood trim—harvested from a single fallen tree to be eco-friendly. Bougie? Indeed.
Unlike many concept cars, the Ciel’s powertrain ain’t pie in the sky. A twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 lies under that broad hood, with an electric motor and battery sitting under the skin to provide extra thrust, as well as gas-free running at low speeds. When everything lines up, the Ciel makes 425 horsepower and 430 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s a reasonable powerplant that doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to produce. And with customers demanding better gas mileage and stunt-worthy performance from their luxury cars these days, this is exactly the sort of engine Cadillac needs in order to stay fresh.
Between the real-world engine, the realistic proportions and the near-future styling, the Ciel seems like the sort of whip Cadillac would want roaming the streets (apart from that giant convertible top). While Cadillac’s next big sedan, the XTS, is already set for launch next year, don’t be surprised if its replacement shares more than a passing resemblance to this open-top cruiser.