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Cadillac's New Badging Scheme Will Drive You Insane

Industry News / 26 Comments

What the heck is a newton-meter anyway?

What the heck was wrong with naming a car based on its engine size? There was a time when you could look at a car and instantly tell what engine was under the hood just by looking at its name. A BMW 325i? That, of course, had a 2.5-liter engine. The old C43 AMG from the '90s? Duh, a 4.3-liter engine. Today, the badge on the back of a car has little to no relevance. The Mercedes C43 is a perfect example - today it uses a 3.0-liter engine, which has nothing to do with the number 43.

Audi introduced a new badging scheme based on engine output to eliminate this confusion but ended up basing the system on kilowatts instead of horsepower, making it completely useless for the US market. You'd think automakers would have learned how to name cars by now but Cadillac just said: "hold my beer."

The American automaker will be introducing a new badging scheme based on an engine's torque. Seems simple enough, right? Well, prepare to tear your hair out. Like Audi, Cadillac has baffling chosen to use a European method for measuring output, which is sure to have its loyal buyers in the US scratching their heads. Rather than using the generally accepted measure of foot-pounds (lb-ft), Cadillac will use newton-meters instead. All 2020 model year Cadillacs will adopt this strategy, beginning with the new XT6 crossover.

Since the XT6's 3.6-liter V6 develops 271 lb-ft of torque, which translates to 373 newton-meters of torque, it will wear a '400' badge. Why not a '373'? Because Cadillac just thought rounding to 400 would sound better. The automaker says the goal is to give consumers "a clear understanding of the power differences across the lineup."

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Cadillac President Steve Carlisle said "We're not talking about displacements any more. Its purpose is to communicate power and performance, not just for ICE engines, but also for other propulsion." As for why the company chose to use a European measure of torque, Carlisle said "It's metric, it's universal, it's global, we have to think about all the markets that we're doing business in," adding that "engineers certainly prefer Newton-meters."

If an engine has a turbocharger, you will see a 'T' at the end of the number while upcoming V models like the CT6-V ignore this new naming scheme entirely. Since we're still a couple of weeks away for this to be an April Fool's Day joke, prepare to get used to this convoluted naming scheme from Cadillac.