Cadillac and Audi typically aren’t spoken in the same sentence. Not that Cadillac makes inferior cars, but the two brands just aren’t direct competitors, especially in the high-end luxury segment, a segment that is brand new to Cadillac. When we first saw the CT6, it was at the 2015 New York International Auto Show and it was displayed on a rotating platform underneath a bunch of bright lights. There, we felt that the CT6 didn’t look all that impressive. It just kind of looked a bit plain and boring, not like something that could compete with the likes of the Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz S Class and the BMW 7 Series. Now that Cadillac has shown the CT6 in the real world and given it to some journalists who were able to test it, it actually seems like it might be able to compete with Audi’s brilliant, but aging, A8.
The Cadillac CT6 is based on GM’s all-new Omega rear-wheel drive platform and is the first GM vehicle to use it. The Omega platform is built with extensive uses of aluminum and other lightweight materials, making the CT6 just as light as its smaller sibling, the Cadillac CTS, and even more rigid. This allows the CT6 to be competitive in size and interior space as the Audi A8, though it is a bit smaller, while also having nimble and agile handling. From some of the reviews out there, the CT6 has good steering with sharp reflexes and feels like a car much lighter and smaller than it is. The Audi A8 isn’t exactly known for being a nimble car, but it is one of the more athletic big luxury cars you’ll find on the current market.
In terms of powertrains, the Cadillac CT6 is available with three different engine options at launch. The base model comes with a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, developing 265 hp, which isn’t exactly competitive with the Audi A8. There will also be a 3.6 liter naturally-aspirated V6 engine that produces 335 hp, which is more inline with the 333 hp 3.0 liter supercharged V6 that comes in the base model A8. However, the top-of-the-range CT6 comes with a 3.0 liter twin-turbo V6 engine that produces 404 hp. While that sounds like a lot, the 4.0 twin-turbocharged V8 in the Audi A8 makes 450 hp, substantially more.
So the CT6 lacks a bit in the power department, but it makes up for that with a much smaller price tag. The base mode Audi A8L in America starts life at $81,500, which is only less than the absolute top-spec Cadillac CT6 3.0L Twin Turbo Platinum. So the CT6 offers an excellent value proposition.
While the CT6 is cheaper, it doesn’t really look or feel it. Its exterior design is classy and refined while also looking powerful and luxurious. Its only real downfall being that it’s a touch boring. Objectively, the Audi A8 is the better looking car, but the CT6 isn’t far behind. I really enjoy the look of the CT6’s headlights and the overall exterior design is possibly the best Caddy has put out to date.
On the interior, things are similar. The cabin is very nice and looks very luxurious, but it lacks a bit of the opulence of the A8. The Audi A8 screams high-end luxury while the CT6 halfheartedly mumbles it. Not that it’s bad or ugly, it’s just not as nice or luxurious as the A8 and its rivals. There is some genuinely clever tech inside the CT6, though. The trick rear-view mirror that doubles as a high-definition screen, displaying the rear-view camera, is very cool and the screens that slide up out of the front seatbacks for the rear passengers is an interesting touch. Aside from that, though, and there isn’t much else going on. Though Cadillac is quick to point out that all of the materials inside the cabin, whether they be leather, wood or metal, are all genuine materials and no fake stuff made its way inside.
Overall, the Cadillac CT6 looks like something that could offer near-A8 levels of luxury and performance for quite a bit less money. That makes it quite good value and could sway some customers who are on the fence. While Cadillac claims that this CT6 isn’t its absolute flagship vehicle, and that there will be something coming to claim that title, it’s the closest thing Caddy’s got to it. Is it as good as the Audi A8? That’s yet to be seen, but it is an interesting alternative.