2024 Cadillac Celestiq Hands, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car
2024 Cadillac Celestiq Hands-On First Look: The $300K Cadillac Must Be Seen To Be Believed
The $300,000-plus Celestiq is the advanced, expensive, and bespoke Cadillac you probably never expected.
Is the 2024 Cadillac Celestiq flagship for real? This head-turner of an all-electric super sedan is finally in the form of a production model, longer than a Cadillac Escalade fullsize SUV, and priced in stratospheres Cadillac has long dreamed of returning to. Pricing will start in the low $300,000 range and customers can easily add up to $100,000 more to customize it, further ensuring no one else owns the same exact car.
The fact that Cadillac is even going through with production of the Celestiq is as surprising as the vehicle itself. But here it is, fulfillment of a longstanding wish for a flagship. An idea became a vision, then a show car, and now an ultra-luxury sedan that retains almost all the gee-whiz features.
The Celestiq has an estimated 600 horsepower, 640 lb-ft of torque, a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds, range of more than 300 miles, and is equipped with a 200 kW DC fast charging system to add 78 miles of range in 10 minutes. Propulsion comes from a 111-kWh battery pack powering a two-motor AWD system.
The Celestiq (pronounced Ceh-LESS-tick) will be handcrafted at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, where it was designed and engineered. Planned output will be just two models a day for global consumption, starting in December 2023. No more than six vehicles will be in the assembly process at any one time. GM execs say they are already talking to interested consumers.
GM President Mark Reuss recently stopped by the design dome to see a prototype of the finished version for himself. MotorTrend asked him if he will buy one. Yes. He says his wife, Kim, who is an interior designer, will be cut loose to work out the details of their individual car.
Commission A One-Of-A-Kind Cadillac Celestiq
All who commission a Celestiq will work through a dealer and with a concierge who will connect them with GM designer. The buyer can come to Michigan to go over ideas and swatches, or the GM designer can travel to them. Any color is possible because each car will be hand-built. Since 115 parts are 3D printed, intricate personalized details are bound by little more than your imagination.
Want your signature etched into the metal plate on the dash? Done. Guitar strings, tennis racquet strings, dog hair, pressed flowers from your rose garden—they can be incorporated to make a personal statement. There is no base car or trims. Every Celestiq will be different. The whole process could take up to 10 months to outline and complete.
This is how Cadillac plans to reach the top of the luxury ladder to take on Rolls-Royce, Maybach, and Bentley, while leaving Lincoln in its dust. The team had a Ghost and a Flying Spur to benchmark, but the end result is a car that doesn’t look like anything else on the road, said interior design manager Tristan Murphy.
The Celestiq looks like a spaceship, with long languid lines and a windshield steeper than a Corvette, no exterior door handles, a giant hatch, and a huge smart glass roof with embedded antennae. Eliminating the need for a sunshade or headliner creates more headroom and each occupant can control how much light enters their quadrant of the roof, which is a step up from the optional trick glass roof on the new BMW iX EV SUV, which can only fog the full panel.
Powering The Spaceship
The Celestiq is exclusively an electric vehicle and uses GM’s Ultium battery system with a twist. The new architecture is dedicated to the Celestiq—at least until the idea of a customizable SUV becomes reality. The car uses the same battery cells as a GMC Hummer EV pickup, or even the smaller Cadillac Lyriq midsize crossover, but in the Celestiq they are laid horizontally instead of stacked vertically to keep the car low-slung. And it is not the same skateboard layout because that would make the floor too high.
The Celestiq’s five battery modules are shaped differently and stacked to different heights, depending on where they are placed. Higher ones run down the center of the limo-like car; they are stacked nine cells high under the two front seats, 12 under the two rear seats, and only six deep under the foot wells.
The spaceframe is aluminum, most body panels are carbon fiber but the doors had to use a composite to incorporate the sensors that power them open and closed. Even so, the car weighs more than 6,000 pounds.
There are no exterior handles marring the giant side profile; touch a capacitive button on the B pillar or let the vehicle recognize the key fob and open the door upon approach. Use the center console touchscreen to open the door for an arriving passenger.
Return Of The Goddess
The Celestiq also marks the return of the “Goddess,” the mascot that adorned Cadillac hoods from 1930 through the 1950s. There is an illuminated Goddess on each front fender, in the glass rotary control knobs on the center console, and she appears on the touchscreens.
The lines of the Mondrian Cadillac crest are replicated throughout the car. They adorn the four quadrants of the glass roof, and are etched into the sidewalls of the summer tires developed with Michelin for the 23-inch forged aluminum wheels.
Celestiq continues Cadillac’s signature vertical lighting but each individual LED is its own light source, as opposed to a bank of lights, and the Digital Micromirror Device headlamps with 1.3 million pixels per side are integral to the choreographed lighting sequence and projection of the Cadillac Crest that greets the owner as they approach the car in the act of powering up. To quickly check the car’s state of charge, use the height of the illumination on the vertical lights as a gauge.
Pampering Is Mandatory
The interior gets the royal treatment with each of the four seats an equal throne in terms of materials and pampering. All have heating, ventilation, neck-warming, recline, massage, and access to screens. Up front it is a 55-inch screen with digital blocking so the driver can’t watch the movie playing on the passenger side. The AKG audio system has 38 speakers inside and three outside as part of the electric vehicle sound enhancement system.
The seats are leather, as is the dash, doors, even the floor. Cupholders and cubbies are lined in suede. Everything that looks metal is real metal. A couple notable misses: no sunshades or aromatherapy.
The Celestiq embraces 3D printing and “flex fab” to create unique parts. The largest 3D printed steel component is the steering wheel center. A medical laser for eye surgery was used to etch the delicate symbols on it. More than 300 parts were created by flex fabrication where a machine takes steel sheets and pierces, bends, welds, and processes it, spitting out a finished part that can be used to hold electronics or the center console that runs the length of the car.
Concept Vs Production Car
Very little was dropped from the show car to put the Celestiq into production. To comply with regulations, conventional side mirrors replaced cameras and the rear side glass can’t be tinted. Taillights moved from the hatch to the body and the rear bumper extends further to meet crash structure regulations. But as work continued on the car, features were actually added, like the polished stainless steel D ring that guides the seatbelt, a first use of 3D printing for a safety feature.
The Celestiq has adaptive air suspension, magnetic ride control, active roll control, rear steering, an active rear spoiler, and a full roster of safety and driver-assist systems. It will be equipped with the hardware for Ultra Cruise hands-free driving assist but full capability will not be ready at launch.
Road To A Flagship
“We’ve been trying to do a flagship for Cadillac for awhile,” said vice president of global design Michael Simcoe. The Celestiq can trace its lineage to the Escala concept shown in 2016, which was once on its way to production with a V-8. When the decision was made to pivot to all EVs for the Cadillac brand, the Escala was left behind. A vision model was created for internal eyes only—a caricature before there was a new program for a flagship—and from that initiative the Celestiq show car was created to set the design tone for future Cadillacs.
For such a unique and bespoke car, engineers and designers had to unlearn past practices and think of the car as a blank slate for a customer to design, with the ability to create intricate individual parts with sand casting and 3D printing. Pieces like the brushed and polished machined aluminum trim across the front of the hood would not be possible on a high-volume vehicle, said exterior design manager Taki Karras.
Cadillac has taken a bold step to reclaim its luxury heritage. Time will tell if consumers are ready to embrace it.
|BASE PRICE||$310,000 (est)|
|LAYOUT||Front- and rear-motor, AWD, 4-pass, hatchback|
|MOTORS||2 x 300-hp/320-lb-ft (est) AC, permanent-magnet electric|
- The 2024 Cadillac Celestiq debuts as the most extravagant and expensive model the brand has ever built.
- The electric Celestiq is an avant-garde, four-seater hatchback that’s made by hand and built to order.
- Cadillac fits every model with an expected 600 horsepower, an estimated 300 miles of range, and a base price of more than $300,000.
When was the last time Cadillac was truly considered the Standard of the World? If you’re like us and have to phone a friend to answer that question, then you might need to have your grandparents’ landline on speed dial. The point is it’s been a long time, but the brand looks to return to those former glory days as a legit luxury coachbuilder with the 2024 Celestiq, a moonshot model the company claims is one of the most important in its 120-year history.
For those already familiar with the Celestiq concept that Cadillac revealed back in July, the production car’s specialness won’t be a surprise, especially since it’s nearly identical to the preceding show car. Cadillac basically just replaced the concept’s camera-fed exterior mirrors with traditional ones and called it good.
Still, here’s a quick recap or primer: The Celestiq is a battery-electric avant-garde four-passenger hatchback that’s built by hand and tailor-made for individual customers. It also features a bespoke platform based on General Motors’ Ultimum battery technology.
A Caddy for Kings and Queens
If you haven’t already connected the dots, this Caddy isn’t attainable for blue-collar folks, no matter how fat their yearly bonus check is. And that’s the point. Cadillac commissioned this ambitious car to reconnect with its heritage, reboot its image, and be the flagship of the brand’s plans to go entirely electric by 2030.
Needless to say, the Celestiq is extremely expensive, with a $300,000-plus base price that’ll rise based on customers’ individual customizations. Cadillac also says it will only build a limited number every year at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. Those allocations will only be available to those on a waitlist.
So, what does Celestiq mean and where did the name come from? That’s not important. What’s important is that it doesn’t have a generic alphanumeric moniker like some other models Cadillac sells.
It also maintains Cadillac’s plan to use the suffix “iq” at the end of its electric vehicles’ model names, a trend that began with the recently introduced Lyriq electric SUV. That’s better than the Celestiq being called the CT7 or something similarly uninspiring.
What’s not uninspiring is the Celestiq’s dramatiq (see what we did there?) proportions. We were lucky enough to see it in person, and to call it stunning is an understatement.
Shining in hand-painted Santorini Blue (just one of 200 available exterior colors Cadillac mastered for the Celestiq, not counting the infinite color-match options), the big EV looks incredibly long and low-slung. We’re told its windshield is angled steeper than that of the latest Corvette.
Unlike the mid-engined Chevy sports car, the electric Celestiq’s bodywork is tastefully sculpted. Its slippery surface hides extensive carbon-fiber body panels that are virtually void of defined lines.
There’s no belt molding or door handles, either. The large power-operated front and rear doors open at the touch of discreet buttons on the B-pillar, but not before the Celestiq welcomes the driver with a light show when it detects the key fob is within 15 feet. We’re told the sequence takes advantage of Cadillac’s first-ever “digital micromirror” headlights that feature 1.3 million pixels each.
While the Celestiq’s grille design and hockey-stick-like taillights look similar to those of the Lyriq, its remaining details offer a unique showcase of the particular manufacturing processes Cadillac employs to build this machine. The Celestiq’s underbody consists of six mega-sized aluminum castings that are said to reduce normally necessary components by 30–40 parts apiece.
Every model also features 300-plus fabricated bits that are made through a process that can bend and fold metal like origami (as opposed to traditional stamping techniques). Cadillac also went crazy with 3-D printing on the Celestiq, and the EV boasts 115 such parts on the likes of its steering wheel and interior trim.
Let the Cabin Be Your Canvas
Cadillac’s elegant approach to design is reflected inside the Celestiq, which features a refreshingly simple layout that’s intended to serve as a canvas for customers. The company wanted the interior materials front and center, and the individualization offered is virtually endless.
It’s all about how far down the rabbit hole you want to go, as one Cadillac spokesperson told Car and Driver. There’s even an option for leather-wrapped flooring because of course there is. The cast-aluminum piece on the dash allows for custom engraving; the same goes for the metal elements on the door sill, edges of the floor mats, etc.
If you think the 38 inches of curved OLED screens in the Cadillac Escalade are impressive, prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor. The Celestiq features 55 inches of glass that spans from the left front pillar to the right front pillar.
The single piece of glass hides two separate screens, with the driver facing one and the front passenger facing the other. For safety reasons, the passenger’s side has a privacy feature that shields it from the driver’s view so they can’t side-eye a movie while driving.
The Celestiq’s interior technology also consists of an 11.0-inch touchscreen that sprouts up from the front center console. While there’s an ominous lack of physical buttons, there’s a rotary controller and a volume knob on the center console. Phew.
Those in the Celestiq’s two individual and highly adjustable rear seats even have their own digital command center by way of an 8.0-inch touchscreen display. The setup includes settings for the Gentherm four-zone climate system that’s said to allow intimate tailoring of temps, including those for the heated and cooled cushions.
While some of the Celestiq’s features wouldn’t be out of place on a Mercedes-Benz S-class, others are more in line with the Caddy’s hefty price tag. Take the Celestiq’s smart glass roof that uses allows people to control the amount of light that comes through in four separate sections.
Every Celestiq is also equipped with GM’s Ultra Cruise hands-free driving-assist technology that uses a combination of cameras, radars, and lidar in order to work on more than two million miles of various roadways (including but not limited to highways) in the United States and Canada.
The Flagship of Electric Cadillacs
Cadillac didn’t just build the Celestiq to be a big comfy cruiser that looks like more than a quarter of a million bucks, and every one of these big EVs comes equipped with an air suspension system and the fourth generation of GM’s magnetorheological shocks. Additionally, the Celestiq also has rear-wheel steering and a variable-ratio electric steering system. It also marks the debut of Cadillac’s active anti-roll bars.
The front and rear suspension both feature independent five-link configurations. Large 23-inch wheels, which are wrapped with a set of Michelin Pilot Sport EV summer tires that were specially developed for the Celestiq (they even have a unique sidewall graphic), serve as the mediators between the Caddy’s chassis and the road below.
The Celestiq is motivated by a pair of electric motors (one at each axle) that work together to generate an estimated 600 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque. Cadillac claims this allows the all-wheel-drive Celestiq to race to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.
Maintain a light enough right foot, though, and Cadillac estimates the Celestiq will go 300 miles on a full charge of its 111-kWh battery pack. (That’s gross capacity, as Cadillac’s currently mum on the pack’s useable capacity.) To maximize interior space, Cadillac positions the Celestiq’s battery cells horizontally.
As with most ultra-luxury cars, the 2024 Cadillac Celestiq, which enters production in December 2023, really has to be seen in person to be appreciated. Unfortunately, its exclusive nature will likely make it a rare sight. Of course, that’s what Cadillac wanted when it set out to design the Celestiq.
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