Cadillac has been teasing it for months, and now, we get our first full look at the Celestiq: A show car for now, but one that shows us what we can expect from Cadillac’s first production ultra-luxury electric sedan. And we do mean ultra-luxury: Rumor has it, Cadillac plans to charge over $300,000 for the production car that this show car will sire.
Cadillac calls this concept “a vision of innovation and purpose that previews the brand’s future handcrafted and all-electric flagship sedan.” And while we can quibble over whether this can accurately be called a fastback, a hatchback, or a five-door, there’s one thing it’s not — an SUV. It’s a sedan, chief engineer Tony Roma says in Cadillac’s press release, “because the configuration offers the very best luxury experience.” Coming from the company that makes its biggest profit on the enormous Escalade, that’s a bold step.
The show-car Celestiq is a stunner. Cadillac’s press release says designers took inspiration from heritage models like the opulent 1930s V16 and the 1957 Eldorado Brougham. Cadillac kind of has to say that — any automaker with more than a century of history will try to draw a line from its golden era to its latest experiments. I don’t know if I quite buy it. The Celestiq show car is boldly, decidedly modern, and personally, I like it that way. The one historic touch I see is in the upswept part of the upper taillights — the fluted, angled leading edge reminds me of the taillamps on the iconic, revolutionary 1967 Eldorado. It’s a small nod, and that’s how it should be.
Because the Celestiq is meant to be Cadillac’s bold next step into the future. It’s built on GM’s Ultium EV architecture — currently found at the heart of the gargantuan GMC Hummer EV and eventually due to power just about everything GM makes.
The interior is, admittedly, a little over-the-top, but hey, this is a show car. We’ve got screens, lots of ‘em, including a full-width instrument panel display that Cadillac boastfully measures at 55 inches. It’s got wraparound edges that crawl onto the doors, possibly to serve as displays for a camera-based side-view mirror system? The crimson upholstery and utterly minimal switchgear on the dashboard create a vintage restomod vibe, like a Ridler Award-winning custom. It’s bold, but elegant. Very American. I dig it wholeheartedly.
Yes, this is a show car, but Cadillac says the Celestiq concept previews technology that will be featured on the production-spec vehicle, including a glass roof with suspended particle technology that allows each seat occupant to choose between four levels of opaqueness. The driver will also enjoy Ultra Cruise, promised to be the ultra-advanced next generation of GM’s currently excellent Super Cruise advanced driver assistance technology.
Cadillac says the Celestiq will be the first GM production vehicle built at the automaker’s Global Technical Center, an airy and striking campus in Warren, Michigan that was designed by mid-century architectural legend Eero Saarinen.
The automaker cites Saarinen as an influence in the Celestiq’s design. I was poised to call that a stretch when I first read it, but sitting with these photos, I’m starting to see the connection. The Celestiq has a genetic resemblance with the clean, restrained, but warm and inviting aesthetic of good mid-century architecture. And Saarinen is a fitting inspiration: The legendary architect was born in Finland but a son of Michigan, where his family emigrated when he was 12 years old. Saarinen’s design for the GM Global Technical Center put his name on the map, and helped launch a style and ethos that’s still worshipped today. The fact that the Celestiq captures some of that mid-century elegance without a hint of cloying retro shlock is a feat unto itself.
We’ll get to see the Celestiq in person later this year, with the production EV sure to follow sometime thereafter. I, for one, can’t wait to see it.