Cadillac just unveiled its Celestiq concept, and the all-new all-electric sedan is a stunner. Low, wide, and as long as an Escalade, the four-door has immense presence, aided in part by its unique front and back lighting signatures and especially by its bubble-backed glass hatch. This distinctiveness is very intentional, setting this new six-figure flagship apart from other vehicles in the pinnacle sedan category—like the Rolls-Royce Ghost or Bentley Flying Spur. “There’s a lot of premium incumbent brands in that space, and they tend to be traditional in their execution of a tall, upright sedan,” says Michael Simcoe, General Motors’s vice president of global design. “And, of course, we will be measured against those. But playing in that space doesn’t make sense. Simply put, why would you go and do the same thing as someone else?”
The Celestiq’s iconoclasm continues to impress inside, with brogued and quilted leather lining the seats, swathes of satin-polished aluminum trimming the handles and switchgear, real wood veneer—some of it perforated and backlit—showing off its textured grain in the seat backs and door panels, and a layering of nearly every vertical surface in LCD screens. A giant display stretches from pillar to pillar up front, another is between the front seats, and there is one for each passenger in back, in addition to one between the two rear thrones. Up top, a glass roof sandwiches electrodes that allow it to dim or lighten rheostatically. In an industry first, the roof can change its opacity in four sectors, one above each of the seats.
Because it’s a fully electric vehicle—unbeholden to the traditional placement of engine, transmission, exhaust, and gas tank—the designers had significant freedom to create fresh language for the car’s form. “Going into the E.V. platform was an opportunity to kind of reimagine how that manifests itself in the brand,” says Erin Crossley, the design director for the Celestiq. “And I think a lot of how we approach that was almost like a clean sheet of paper. Kind of leaning into the technology and the things that it enables.