Home » I Never Thought I’d Say It But: The $340,000 Cadillac Celestiq Is The Car Cadillac Needs Right Now

I Never Thought I’d Say It But: The $340,000 Cadillac Celestiq Is The Car Cadillac Needs Right Now

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I just saw the Cadillac Celestiq in person at a party at Monterey Car Week. This is a $340,000 electric sedan/hatchback that the entire internet pretty much wrote off as an overpriced Maybach wannabe. Who does Cadillac think it is charging that much for a car? The brand hasn’t been “The Standard of the World” in many decades. And while that last statement may be true, after seeing the Celestiq in person, I kinda get it. And I actually like it for Cadillac.

Last night I attended a party called “Motorlux.” I did not belong there, because, despite having “gone Hollywood” to some degree, I’m still a bit of a wrenching Midwesterner at my core. Still, it was a great time; Jason and I hit a dancefloor, hung out with Beau and ate some oysters, looked at amazing cars—it was fantastic. There were also planes and helicopters:

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It was also my first chance to see the Cadillac Celestiq, a Bentley-grade electric luxury car from a brand that, frankly, has been a bit lost over the last few decades. It moved its headquarters to New York so it could be “hip” and “cool,” then moved it right back to Detroit; it’s been unsuccessfully trying to compete with BMW M-cars for years; and really, the only car on its roster that has any brand equity is the Escalade.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Sixty years ago, Cadillac built its name on elegance, swagger, and comfort; these are what Cadillac always did best, and yet the brand hasn’t leaned into these attributes enough outside of the Escalade. And I think that’s a mistake. Realistically, Cadillac will never be The Standard of the World when it comes to handling/track performance, but it can be The Standard of the World in terms of comfort and flat-out swag. And I believe the Celestiq is the way to get there. Because it looks incredible in person:

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The sheer size of this machine is staggering; it starts with the humongous hood, which flows into black, steeply-raked A-pillars that end at a flat-top black roof.

That roof extends to about the rear axle, where it grows a rear hatchback that drops incredibly gradually before eventually reaching a rear fascia that seems in an entirely different time zone than the front. Seriously, the C-pillar on this thing may be one of the largest one in automotive history:

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Because of how long that sloping back is, the rear seats have to be positioned fairly far forward to allow for decent headroom. The result is that there really doesn’t appear to be a ton of legroom, which is a bit silly for a luxury sedan like this — a sedan whose primary focus isn’t on driving excitement but on comfort, especially for second-row passengers — but I really don’t think that matters that much. The legroom compromise is worth it for that look. Also, an advantage of the setup is an absurd amount of rear cargo space:

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The interior looks incredible. Screens abound; there’s gorgeous accent lighting in the doors, roof, and damn near everywhere; the seats feature an awesome inlay pattern and speakers in the headrests. Take one look at the Celestiq’s cabin and it’s basically impossible not to be impressed:

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I’m here at Pebble Beach waiting to watch classic cars go around a racetrack at the Monterey Historics event, so I have to cut this little blog short, but consider this a bit of a retraction. I didn’t understand the Celestiq before, but now that I’ve seen it, I get it and I dig it. Even if I’ll never be able to afford it.

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Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
9 months ago

This is pretty terrific. Cadillac has just shown you the design language they’re going to use downmarket.

It’s pretty badass. The grill. The tail lights and running lights. The ambient interior lighting. It all feels unique and new, even though we’ve seen some similar features elsewhere. But mixed up like they are and presented on a pretty sizable palate, it feels like when I first saw one of those big Rollers when BMW owned them. Holy crap.

Caddies used to be big cars until the first fuel crisis, and I think they lost a lot of their differentiation when they started sharing more chassis and design with the rest of GM. With EVs, is it still necessary to build a smaller car? I mean we’re not trying to wring every bit of energy out of a drop of gasoline anymore, are we? Can we have a Cadillac that’s “as big as a Cadillac” now?

This thing looks like that’s a “yes” and I’m down with every bit of that.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
9 months ago

Celestiq??? The name just doesn’t sound $300k opulant to me. It sounds like a 1990s diet pill and/or kitchen appliance.

Could have resurrected LaSalle or maybe do a play on the letters EV in De Ville?

Clearly I’m not genius at naming conventions…

The rear end is something I would need to see in person to truley judge, but the pictures are questionable… but it is a statement vehicle so that helps.

Last edited 9 months ago by Bizness Comma Nunya
Rafael
Rafael
9 months ago

I think trashy names are a mandate from corporate for some reason.
Well, it beats alphanumeric “names”!

Rafael
Rafael
9 months ago

This is Different, and I like it!
I would never ever be even allowed near one, mind you, and even if I was, super/hyper cars don’t appeal to me for quite some time now – but I have to respect a product that isn’t a committee-designed crossover with pseudo-aggressive design and too many fake vents.
Well, it does have tons of vents and creases, but at least this is their natural habitat. This somehow works for the car, reminds me of something I can drive in Cyberpunk 2077, but in a good way 🙂

Gen-O Bernardo
Gen-O Bernardo
9 months ago

the C-pillar on this thing may be one of the largest one in automotive history:”…current Camaro convertible would like a word with you Mr. Tracy

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
9 months ago

Lop off the whole back end and rework it. Yuck.

Chris D
Chris D
9 months ago

Celestiq: Because a fool and more than a third of a million dollars are soon parted.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
9 months ago

The Celestiq is a big swing, no doubt — but I have to respect a carmaker that’s willing to take a risk. Whether people will cross-shop this against the Bentley/Rolls cohort or the Tesla/Lucid/Merc EQ bracket (I know, but people who can afford a $150K car can probably afford a $350K car) is kind of immaterial. It looks like the future, and is getting a lot of attention, and that’s the point.

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
9 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Buchholz

I will say as someone with a new E63s Wagon, people who can afford a 150k car are not the same people cross-shopping a 350k car. They might shop down, but you’re not looking at a Tesla Plaid and a Bentley Mulsanne unless you’re looking at a Mulsanne and think to check a Plaid.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago

A Cadillac named like a stripper.
And just as gross and unnecessarily expensive to the morons that are into that type of stuff.
There’s a reason they dimmed the lights. Same reason they do it in a strip club. To hide the sad reality of it all.

Last edited 9 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Rafael
Rafael
9 months ago

Wow, that is unnecessarily mean to strippers and cars alike…

Kommkat
Kommkat
9 months ago

Mmmmmm…. Good to see inside one of these finally. My neighbor has been driving one for months now and it’s basically a hollowed out shell loaded with test equipment. It’s really come out quite lovely.

Nota Speed3
Nota Speed3
9 months ago

I don’t care what people think about this car, its price, its performance, its iq-ky name…or whatever—this is some of the most impressive American auto design to be put into production in decades. And on a personal level, I really get emotional looking at this thing…something I don’t think I’ve ever felt looking at a modern American car’s design.

While it’s not most conventionally beautiful or timeless, nor even the best design Cadillac has produced, this clearly came straight from the designers’ vision, and that is something we have not seen in American car design in far too long.

The amount of watering down, smoothing-out, simplifying and bean-counting has left very, very few truly remarkable American car designs over the better part of half a century.

There is so much aspiring design talent in Detroit, and once upon a semi-recent time I was one of them. I remember less about my ellipses and perspective assignments in class than I remember what was on the main wall of the studio: a set of gorgeous renderings of a full-size RWD V8 Peugeot sports wagon done by a previous student.

But let’s be real: it became more and more clear that designing the reflector for an incandescent Malibu taillight was in my future, and that wagon-fueled motivation dissipated. For people like me who now work normal jobs, and especially for the people that actually made it through design school with some sort of their artistic soul left, seeing a car like this in production (and even the Lyriq, which is quite impressive in person) from an American company, instills a sense of pride and motivation that I wish I had back then.

And that’s why I love this car, I hope it motivates future designers to stick with it and know that maybe one of their designs will actually make it on the street. As for me, it made me want to dust off he sketchbooks and start drawing again.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
9 months ago

Presence means different things to different people. To me that interior looks like a nightclub where I am too old to be hanging out. Also “presence”, when designed by committee is like taking focus group results and baking them into a car shaped object.

Aaron Bowen
Aaron Bowen
9 months ago

As a CT6 owner I awaited this car. Then I heard about the price. At best a CT6 could just touch over $100k. This car sounded like the replacement until the price, dealer exclusivity, and concierge service attached were all announced.

Cadillac would do well to quench the thirst of all of us that want a luxury sedan that doesn’t come with European problems. The Japanese still haven’t figured out the luxury/sport sedan market yet, but Lexus is definitely trying to figure it out, and Genesis may stumble upon it by accident.

I still love this car. I will never own one, or at least not until its needing a battery rebuild and a few screens replaced. Cadillac needs to show the world that not only they can, but that they will.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
9 months ago
Reply to  Aaron Bowen

Genesis may only have a few models but they are consistently very well review and rated. And they’re beautiful. Kind of confused by that part of the comment.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
9 months ago

I can’t imagine how much would it cost to replace the bumpers and lighting system, following the minor collision.

I am not sold on the rear end of AMC Pacer grafted onto the Celestiq along with all of lighting system resembling the hyperdrive engine on the intergalactic starships.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
9 months ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

I work in total loss, I’m guessing the front end would easily cost $95k. If that sounds mad, consider that when I tallied up the front end (parts, labor and paint) on a new Land Rover it was about $42k. And that had way less shiny LED lights. God help anyone who hits one of these, or if an owner clips a deer.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
9 months ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

There is no question that it is utter madness, gross negligence, and will needlessly increase everyone’s premiums. I was involved in prototyping energy absorbing bumpers in the late 90s to early naughts. The tech was available all the way back on my 1972 mustang, and proved itself worthy with 0 damage to the car, when wet leaves on a corner had me leave the roadway sideways. Did not want to damage the side into a fence, nosed it in, and the front energy absorber did its job. WHY HAVE THEY TURNED THEIR BACKS ON 50 YEARS OF PROVEN TECHNOLOGY ?

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
9 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

It is not just this design, but a disturbing trend across most manufacturers, That We Shouldn’t Have To Pay For !

Last edited 9 months ago by Hoonicus
Marteau
Marteau
9 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Because profits !

Chris D
Chris D
9 months ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

The insurance policy premium would likely pay for a couple of new Mitsubishi Mirages every year.

Dan Bee
Dan Bee
9 months ago

The back reminds me of a 928. That’s not a bad thing.

CivoLee
CivoLee
9 months ago

Every time I see another sleek, stylish EV that’s a bajillion dollars and then look at the EVs on offer to the less loaded, it makes me want to scream and punch someone in the boardroom of any one of the legacy car manufacturers. Would it really be too much of a risk to offer an EV for less than $100K that ISN’T yet another crossover or pickup? Of course it would, because those vehicles are safe. Safe bets for the risk-adverse shareholders and safely anonymous for the end user who doesn’t want anyone to know that they’re driving something that’s (more) eco-friendly (than an ICE vehicle), lest they be labeled a treehugger.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
9 months ago

I wants it

Peter Andruskiewicz
Peter Andruskiewicz
9 months ago

I personally love the looks of this, it’s definitely got a “utopian future” vibe to it that makes it seem like it’d fit right into the Gattica universe or something. Also, I wouldn’t worry about the rear leg room, I think the proportions are fooling everyone into thinking it’s smaller than it really is, draping the silhouette of it over a regular large sedan like an Impala, 300, 7 series etc and coming to that conclusion

FUCK YOU
FUCK YOU
9 months ago

Gattaca was a dystopia, you realize.

Peter Andruskiewicz
Peter Andruskiewicz
9 months ago
Reply to  FUCK YOU

Yes, and I was referring to the vehicles on the “have” side of the spectrum, thus utopian in quotes

MH7
MH7
9 months ago

Cadillac needed a halo car, but they’re a decade or two too late. The sixteen might have revived the image of luxury and excess that made them great in the 60s. This is just trying to take (yet another…) sharp turn to suddenly redefine the brand. Maybe they’ll get some influences on board, maybe not. I just can’t see this thing ever actually being cool. The styling is very much personal preference and I fall in the ‘wtf’ camp.

Bassracerx
Bassracerx
9 months ago
Reply to  MH7

The escalade is their halo car.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
9 months ago

I think this is absolutely the right take – I saw my first one of these outside Trader Joe’s in Cupertino a week ago. It’s ridiculous, huge, kinda ugly, kinda stunning, and frankly I want to despise it but instead it’s quite appealing in a “look at me I’m so much better than all of you” snobbish way.

Not a car I would personally choose to buy or drive, but it fits the Cadillac brand and deep down I know that I’d be feeling the glow from all kinds of perceived superiority if I was every behind the wheel of one.

Greg
Greg
9 months ago

I hate it, but at the same time I sorta dig it. That rear is appealing and those markers going around to the side really is fun.

For 150? Maybe 200. But for 300+ you aren’t going to see/sell enough of these to make Cadilac get that vibe back. I 100% agree with Davids thoughts there, but the price makes them a little too out of the traditional markets league. And that market to me is the “Boss”, but while wages have gone up, most still aren’t spending that money on cars outside of Tech Bro’s and Wall Street.

Last edited 9 months ago by Greg
Tristan Hixon
Tristan Hixon
9 months ago
Reply to  Greg

It’s about getting the visibility amongst some of the elite. If Caddy can become uttered in the same sentence as Maybach without being a joke, then they’ve done it, and that recognition will spread through media (music, placements in television shows, social media of the elites).

This is about their only hope to rebuild their brand cachet, because as of right now, Caddy isn’t even in the running for most people when it comes to luxury cars. I suspect that they’ll loan or give some away to certain wealthy people, and let things build from there.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
9 months ago

Long hoods and large grills in the days of yore were requisite for housing large engines and radiators. I am baffled that modern EVs are emulating that look.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
9 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

SWAG

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
9 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

The only thing I can think of is they are still subscribing to that lizard brain theory.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
9 months ago

I have been a Cadillac owner for the past 15 years, progressing from an El Dorado, to an STS, and finally a CT-6 w/ 3.0 litre twin turbo. In each case I was very pleased with the ambiance and style of each car. When we got the CT-6 we felt we had achieved the pinnacle of the Cadillac experience. Comfort in spades, performance to run with the “big” guys and build quality to match.

Now they build this. I’m not quite certain how you could add any more “luxury” that isn’t just techno crap. Performance? You reach a point where another 0.1 second just seems, dare I say, redundant.

If someone wants to drop $340K on a Cadilac, power to them. I just wonder if they are getting the proper bang for the buck.

And FWIW, I really liked the STS. Its Camaro “bones” really made it a great car!

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
9 months ago

This is truly the Cadillac of Cadillacs

D-dub
D-dub
9 months ago

This is The Homer of Cadillacs.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
9 months ago

I like the back, it has some AMC Marlin to it but in line with a modern take. The rest is just busy new car, I’m not a fan.
Particularly that interior would be annoying at night with all the glow from the acre of LCDs.

Black Peter
Black Peter
9 months ago
Reply to  pizzaman09

Solid take all around. That interior is way more Rockford Fosgate booth at SEMA, than Cheshire Bentley.

Turbeaux
Turbeaux
9 months ago

Please tell me Jason did the worm on the dancefloor

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