The Cadillac Escala concept that stunned the 0.1-percent in Pebble Beach just made its official auto-show debut in Los Angeles and, although there are still legions of rich folks who desire large, opulent transportation, they seem to be souring to big sedans. Then why did Cadillac develop the Escala in a production studio as we optimistically reported from Pebble Beach? Because Cadillac wants the zillion and one design details and its essential aesthetic ethos to be baked in to Cadillac’s future flagship—whatever body categorization it ultimately takes. In fact, there’s a second Escala sitting in that studio right now while this one travels. Here’s what to look for in future Caddys:
Confident, Athletic Stance
The Escala was designed to telegraph the performance capability of its underlying architecture. The concept’s look and swagger suggest it’s a driver’s car, yet the rear-seat space and appointments peg it as a great car in which to be driven.
The grille reinterprets the iconic Cadillac shield shape, and the mesh inside is comprised of tiny shields set on a backdrop of Vs that echo the look of the V-series car grilles. It’s the kind of detail that may well go unnoticed until the owner hand-washes it few times. Other hidden gems include a Cadillac script embossed on the back side of the leather-wrapped curved touch-screen instrument panel that’s only visible from outside the car.
Might we be entering a post-leather era? When a material becomes widely available on compact cars, maybe it’s time to reimagine luxury, and the Escala’s high-end tailored suit material is warmer, more inviting and more interesting than leather. It’s also trickier to work with as it doesn’t stretch much and has a pattern/texture to it that makes stitching a seat cover together trickier. But the production teams are working these kinks out.
We’re all addicted to our screens, but often the ultimate luxury is an opportunity to escape them. This is trickier to do when a blank, black screen is sitting there begging you to stream content, mirror your Facebook screen, or otherwise reconnect. So the Escala’s rear screens can be hidden away in the front seatbacks, and this is an idea Cadillac is already rolling out.
The curved organic light-emitting diode (OLED) instrument panel and infotainment screens look very CES-worthy, but as of yet this technology has not achieved “automotive grade” durability. Suppliers are hard at work making this happen, and they certainly would help make any future Caddy flagship interior appear state of the art.
CUE the Crystal Goddess
The Escala’s infotainment system is entirely controlled via touch screens or a redundant rotary push knob on the center console. This bodes well for the future of frustration-free driver and passenger infotaining, and the icing on the cake will hopefully be the piece of crystal in the center of that knob with a depiction of the “Flying Goddess” that adorned Cadillac hoods in the 1930s.
Look closely and the Escala’s wheels appear to have no lug nuts and super long spokes leading to an impossibly small wheel center. Nobody could package lug nuts under that center cap, and center-lock wheels are not very likely, so what’s going on here? Well, the satin nickel colored “wheel” you are looking at comes off, revealing a network of darker graphite-colored spokes supporting the rim and containing the bolt circle. We love the idea of a removable, replaceable (potentially restylable) wheel face as a means to reduce the cost of curb-rash remediation, but isn’t this really just a fancy wheel cover?
Brushed Metal Trim
Much of the trim on today’s Cadillac range is already matte chrome, and the development team is hard at work figuring out a cost-effective and durable way to add the linear brushed look, which has proven popular on concepts. The trickiest pieces to produce will be those on the lower door inner panels, which transition from pure brushed metal on the front door to pure inlaid American Walnut wood at the back of the rear door.