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Concept Cars - Like the Cadillac Escala - Shine at the 2016 LA Auto Show +VIDEO


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Cadillac Escala Concept

            LEARN MORE: Complete 2016 LA Auto Show Press Pass Coverage

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
THE AUTO CHANNEL


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Cadillac Escala Concept

LOS ANGELES - November 23, 2016. This year, there may not have been so much exciting news with respect to production vehicles, but that does not mean there were no eye catchers. On the contrary, the concept cars were the stars. Some of them are styling exercises for a new design direction of a brand and others are previewing upcoming new models.

The Cadillac Escala Concept was already shown in August at Pebble Beach, but the Four-door coupe made its show debut in Los Angeles. There, I spoke with Taki Karras, Exterior Design Manager Cadillac.




To my question of what Cadillac wants to show with the Escala, he said that there were two goals: To develop the design language for the brand, and to design a vehicle that sets the pinnacle level of the brand.

“To do that we needed to design a vehicle that you want to drive and be driven in,” according to Karras. “The scale is very large, very long, and low and lean looking; this is 6 inches longer than CT6. When you’re working at this scale as a design team, simplicity is very important and you can get complicated very quickly. For us simplicity and purity was very important and then, confidence. To be a Cadillac, there has to be confidence and stance, good proportions. The face had to be not necessarily aggressive but confident. Like commanding attention without screaming.”

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Cadillac Escala Concept

Of course, we also wanted to hear more about the interior design. Karras said they wanted to push luxury into a new space, especially the materials. "There is a selection of wool, and a difference between the front and rear environment. Up front, it is all about technology, with the very large curved OLED screens in front of the driver. That way, information is presented very nicely. On the other hand, technology can be really cold. The materials bring softness to the technology." He then added, "In the rear, there is focus on a more serene environment. All technology can be hidden. The screens retract into the seats and into the armrest. You can get away from it all. We know consumers in this market; their daily life is so stressed. So in the rear it is softer, more comfortable.”

He continues: “This show car comes out of the production studios, so the production designers at work see the clay model and that is much different from seeing photographs. This is a show car, this will not be in production. What you will see though, is the front view, the rear and new materials inside.

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Cadillac Escala Concept

Mr. Karras points at the a-pillar. “We did a lot there, but for a concept we do no have to meet legal requirements, such as size of mirrors. For CT6 we spent countless hours optimizing the thickness of the a-pillar to improve visibility. We had to route drain tubes from the sun roof to the center of the structure of the a-pillars, which you traditionally do not do, minimizing a-pillars.”

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He then lifts the tailgate to show me that the boot floor comes up when you open it, to present the luggage and people do not have to bend down over the high sill. “This also creates a luxury experience.”




To me it looks like Cadillac finally is on the right track with respect to simplicity. Last week, I drove the CT6 during the mini test event of the World Car Awards in conjunction with the LA Auto Show. The Caddy is one of the nominated cars for the 2017 World Car of the Year. Then I noticed that one door panel consist of leather, Alcantara, aluminum, wood and hard plastic. To me and my fellow jurors, who were attending the test drives in Pasadena, the use of so many different materials seemed way over the top.

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Buick Avista Concept

After finishing the conversation with Mr. Karras, I turned around and walked right up to the Buick Avista. This concept car debuted nearly a year ago in Detroit. I was surprised to recognize the similar design of the roofline and along the windows of the Avista in the Escala. Unfortunately, it was too late to ask Mr. Karras if the exterior designer of the Buick also worked on styling the Escala. It pretty much looks like it!