by Karl Furlong
Cadillac was once a pioneer of outlandish but admired luxury car design. Post-war Cadillacs stood out with their wraparound windshields, dramatic tailfins, and abundance of chrome, and they had plush, comfortable interiors. Can the new Cadillac Celestiq fastback sedan recapture that magic in a modern, electrified era? It certainly has the grandiose appearance and enormous price tag to at least merit consideration alongside Rolls-Royce. With a two-motor electric powertrain producing an estimated 600 horsepower, it promises to deliver effortless, silent propulsion. As for the cabin, it sets new standards for Cadillac design and luxury. Availability will be restricted by the painstaking production process - and the fact that there is a nomination process to purchase one.
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It will be a bit of a wait before this special car arrives in the USA. The release date for the Cadillac Celestiq is set for December 2023, when production begins. Even then, only two cars will be built at a time due to the complexity and customization potential of the Celestiq.
The price of the 2024 Cadillac Celestiq starts at an MSRP that is upwards $300,000, with this price referring to a blank canvas Celestiq that has yet to be customized. We are told that a figure closer to $400k is a reasonable expectation.
At these lofty prices, rivals are few, and none provide the specific combination of four doors and exclusivity with a fully electric powertrain. The Rolls-Royce Ghost begins at around $332,000 before options, but that's not an EV. Rolls has its own EV on the way in the form of the Spectre, but this appears to have a much smaller coupe body, so it won't be as well-suited to rear-seat passengers.
No other EV currently offers this standard of opulence and exclusivity. There is the Lucid Air Sapphire that starts at $249,000, but its focus is more on startling performance than luxury.
Quite simply, there is nothing else out there like the Celestiq.
When you're spending this kind of money on a car, it's simply got to make a statement. Beauty is a bonus, of course: both the Rolls-Royce Phantom and Cullinan are not necessarily beautiful, but they do an impeccable job of making their owners look like royalty. Can the looks of the Cadillac Celestiq pull off the same trick?
Well, this particular Caddy immediately looks like a flagship model, and that's half of the job done. From every angle, it is an unashamedly avant-garde prospect, and the decision to go with a stretched fastback profile was a bold one. The grille is large and powerful, and vertical lighting works with it to give the front fascia a commanding presence.
It's not just how dramatic it looks, though; the appeal of the 2024 Celestiq is also in how it has been constructed. Every metal surface is real metal, including the aluminum billet grille. That grille and the Goddess in the fender are milled into cast aluminum, then the piece goes through a meticulous process of being machine-polished, brushed, and tinted. Cadillac also incorporated carbon fiber for strategic sections of the exterior, along with 3D printing; in fact, there are 115 3D-printed parts in the Celestiq. Even the lighting is special, with Digital Micromirror Device headlamps featuring 1.3 million pixels per side.
Moving along the side, the Celestiq's distinctive profile comes into almost shocking focus. Its roofline appears to go on forever. Cadillac says that the 23-inch wheels come in "almost countless color choices," and these will be available with Michelin Pilot Sport EV tires that have strong rolling resistance and are designed especially for the Celestiq. Self-sealing technology, a special tread pattern, and foam inserts also reduce noise levels.
Back to the design, though. The Celestiq has no exterior door handles, relying instead on a power-operated closing and opening function. At the back, the vertical taillight theme echoes those in front, and this is repeated by an additional lighting element on either side of the rear window. These vertical lighting signatures also provide charging status indicators in 10% increments. There's is an active rear spoiler that deploys at lower speeds and raises at higher velocities to keep the car balanced.
A fixed smart glass roof is claimed to be an industry-first feature. Using Suspended Particle Device Technology and multi-color ambient lighting, it's easy to adjust the precise level of natural light you want to enter the cabin.
Cadillac promises a staggering number of Cadillac Celestiq exterior colors. Together with many trim and material options, there is enough variety to guarantee that no two models will be exactly the same. Clients will even have the opportunity to develop new colors together with the Cadillac design team.
Overall, Cadillac has revitalized the concept of the land yacht for a new era with one of the most exciting designs we've seen from the automaker in years.
A complete list of specs and dimensions for the Cadillac Celestiq have not yet been published by the automaker, but rest assured, this Caddy takes up plenty of space. We were told that the Celestiq is longer than the Cadillac Escalade, but shorter than the ESV. This puts length somewhere between 212 inches and 227 inches. As for width and height, figures of around 80 inches and 58 inches, respectively, are reasonable estimates. Few other cars combine such a low height with such a long body, but the horizontally-placed batteries help with the packaging.
We don't have a curb weight figure either, but an EV of this size can easily surpass 5,500 pounds.
Powering the Cadillac Celestiq are two electric motors linked to an all-wheel-drive system. GM estimates outputs of 600 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque, and it projects a 0-60 mph time of under four seconds. Riding upon the versatile Ultium Platform, the Celestiq nevertheless comes with several alterations owing to its size and positioning as Cadillac's flagship. Unlike other Ultium EVs, the Celestiq has 11.59:1 front and 11.63:1 rear gear ratios. These have been uniquely calibrated to boost the car's performance and range.
As mentioned, the horizontal mounting of the battery cells has allowed Cadillac to craft the Celestiq's striking body, but this also lowers the center of gravity to enhance handling. Among gas-powered ultra-luxury sedans, the Celestiq's one-pedal driving, which can slow the car down to a complete stop using only the accelerator pedal, is unique.
Cadillac has thrown every available technology at the Celestiq in an attempt to provide occupants with supreme refinement but also an athleticism that belies the vehicle's size. It has an adaptive air suspension, active rear steering for greater low-speed maneuverability, and Magnetic Ride Control 4.0. The latter was originally developed for the CT5-V Blackwing and is claimed to be the fastest-reacting suspension technology in the world.
In addition, the advanced AWD system can turn the front or rear electric motors on and off based on torque requirements or to save energy where possible. Cadillac uses the term "isolated precision" a lot to describe the five-link front and rear suspension's ability to eliminate disturbances in the cabin while simultaneously delivering an acceptable level of feel and handling response to the driver. This dual approach is different from that of Rolls-Royce, which tends to focus only on ultimate comfort. Cadillac seems to have chosen a path more in line with Bentley, where enjoyment can be derived from either reclining in the rear seat or driving the car yourself.
GM estimates a range of 300 miles when the Celestiq's 111-kilowatt-hour battery is fully charged. EPA ratings for range and MPGe are yet to be released.
Charging a car of this stature is an interesting phenomenon, as we can't imagine the typical Rolls-Royce-like customer pulling up to a busy roadside charging point and waiting in a queue alongside a sea of Chevy Bolts and Nissan Leafs. Nevertheless, it's safe to assume that anyone who can afford the Celestiq would have the space to charge it at home in a climate-controlled garage. Due to not having stacked batteries, the Celestiq's 400V architecture makes it compatible with most fast charging points. It's compatible with charging speeds of up to 200 kW, adding an estimated 78 miles of range in just 10 minutes.
Celestiq clients can use Ultium Charge 360 whereby they have access to over 110,000 public charging points in the United States and Canada. Using the myCadillac Mobile app, it's easy to find nearby charging stations, plan routes, and more.
In an attempt to jazz up the charging experience, the charge port is surrounded by a ring of light that illuminates when plugging in the car. And as mentioned, the vertical lighting signatures also double as charging status indicators.
If the captivating exterior gets potential customers through the door, it's the interior of the Cadillac Celestiq that will likely convince them to hand over north of $300k. Spurred on by the brand's Art of Travel design philosophy, the inside of the Celestiq is resplendent with hand-wrapped materials, exotic craftsmanship, and an array of high-tech features. And, continuing the bespoke hand-built theme, the automaker assures us you can have whatever you want etched into the dash.
We'll start with the abundance of technology, headlined by the enormous 55-inch-diagonal advanced HD display that stretches across the dashboard. It consists of two individual screens beneath a single pane of glass, and the pixel density on the driver-side matches that of an 8K screen. The front-seat passenger is very much part of the experience as they can browse the internet, hook up their smart devices, or play media via their own screen.
This 55-inch screen is one of just five screens found in the cabin. Others include an 11-inch touchscreen in the front console, a rear eight-inch touchscreen, and dual 12.6-inch displays mounted on the front seatbacks. The front center console's most valuable feature is the crystal multi-functional controller that can be used to control the primary screen; it is a work of art on its own with its fine metal and glass construction.
Elsewhere, there are connected cameras that allow owners to see inside and outside the car, or which can be used to detect thefts for those few brave souls who are willing to risk it all to steal a Celestiq. Google Built-in comes with Google Maps and more, and that fixed smart glass roof with its massive glass panel can change tint levels from less than 1% to the more usual 20%, effectively shielding occupants from as much or as little outside light as desired.
This is the first car to have a Gentherm ClimateSense four-zone microclimate system equipped as standard. Whereas ordinary multi-zone systems are sometimes difficult to attune to a specific occupant's needs, the Cadillac's system has 33 unique microclimate devices. Regardless of which seat you are sitting in, this system allows for truly individualized comfort, with heated/cooled seats, heated armrests, and even a neck scarf.
If you aren't overwhelmed by the tech overload yet, there is even more. In total, the Celestiq has 41 speakers, 38 of which are for the interior's AKG Studio Reference Audio System with three separate amplifiers and 30 channels. This system comes with 3D Surround, Vehicle Noise Compensation, Conversation Enhancement, and even Phone Zones. The Cadillac-first Vehicle Exterior Sound System plays "Cadillac curated propulsion sounds" while the vehicle is in motion.
Because it could take all day to unpack all the tech, we'll move on to another important aspect of the Celestiq's interior: luxury and materials. Cadillac touts "obsessive levels of detail" and that's evident in the hand-wrapped leather, the immersive lighting with 450 distinct LEDs and 18 unique lighting animations, and an apparently infinite number of color choices. To craft the perfect cabin, each buyer will sit with a dedicated concierge to detail their wants and needs.
The Cadillac Celestiq seats just four in superfluous comfort; a thick rear center console that serves as an armrest and houses fold-out tables provides a wonderful place from which to watch the world go by, and the low, flat floor frees up plenty of space whether you're in the first or second row. The idea of space and roominess is a continuous theme throughout, with the cockpit feeling exceptionally uncluttered and even a little spartan, barring the acres of real estate taken up by screens.
We don't know how much cargo space will be available in the Cadillac Celestiq, but based on seeing it in person, the area is long but quite shallow, so taller items may struggle to fit in there. But who really cares about trunk space in a car that is considered a piece of art?
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