First Look: Cadillac's plug-in CT6 luxury sedan

Cadillac has stolen a march on the upcoming New York auto show and used an L.A. garage to premiere a brand new plug-in hybrid.

Executives came west with a fleet of shiny CT6 plug-ins for an intimate, informal event held at West Los Angeles’ Smog Shoppe, giving the local driving press the world’s first look at the new machine.

Powered by Cadillac’s 2.0-liter turbo gasoline engine, mated through the EVT transmission to twin electric motors, the plug-in CT6 is a luxurious, four-door sports sedan that’s long on comfort and fuel economy.

With a promised total range of more than 440 miles, and an EPA-approved electric-only range of 31 miles, the CT6 proved a real gas sipper on a Tuesday morning coastal drive.

After one hour and about 30 miles of city streets and coast highway cruising, the CT6 had used much of its battery electric power but still had the same gasoline engine range with which it had started the drive.

On the road, the CT6 was whisper quiet, with zero engine noise and very little wind noise. Lane changes and acceleration brought forth good torque and power. Cadillac said the 335-horsepower hybrid system gets the CT6 from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

The suspension and steering felt a little muddy, even as sport mode tightened the steering and added immediacy to the gas pedal.

As a further fuel saver, paddle shifters on the steering wheel can even adjust regenerative braking levels, which maximized energy returned to the battery on slowing and stopping.

The interior, rich with leather, wood grain and carbon fiber accents, is upscale comfortable. Plush seating — heated and cooled up front, heated in back — is set in ample cabin space, with plenty of leg and head room, fore and aft.

The rear seat area, prime real estate for the Chinese market, is outfitted with twin entertainment systems, composed of screens that rise out of seat backs, twin headphones, and remote control units.

The rear area is made further inviting by side and rear sunshades, generous center console and cup holders, and even a pair of ashtrays. When did those come back? Up front was a clever center console double-hinged to open to either the driver’s or the passenger’s side.

On the outside, gone are the sharp edges of Cadillac’s “art and science” body design. The new CT6 is rounded, and more graceful — if, as a result, a little more generic — than its boxier predecessors.

Cadillac is pitching the CT6 plug-in as an affordable alternative to equivalent vehicles produced by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche, even with its $75,095 MSRP.

Similarly outfitted sedans from those European car makers, Cadillac’s presentation asserted, would cost $20,000 to $40,000 more than the CT6.

Unlike many hybrids, the CT6 can float seamlessly between gasoline and electric modes, said CT6 engineer Jay Woodbeck.

In Tour or Sport modes, the car will select the power source based on driver behavior. Feather the accelerator, and the car will power itself by electric motor, drawing from the lithium ion battery. Put the pedal down hard, and the car will switch to gasoline engine and burn some fuel, while also utilizing the powerful torque supplied by the twin electric motors.

The placement of those motors, and the battery that stores their juice, limits trunk space. There’s room back there for a couple of overnight bags, and maybe a golf bag, but not all that at the same time.

Cadillac said the EPA mileage was a combined city and highway level of 62 miles per gallon equivalent, after factoring in the nongasoline miles achieved on battery electric drive.

Recharge time is 4.5 hours on a 240-volt system, Cadillac said, and about double that on a typical home 120-volt system.

“We took a performance luxury sedan and made it a hybrid, tailored to the California market,” said CT6 chief engineer Lyndon Lie.

Cadillac is shipping CT6s to dealers now. They will be on sale in late spring, the company said.

Executives hope to see many of them on Los Angeles streets.

“Southern California is the key market for this car,” said communications officer Donny Nordlicht. “So Los Angeles was a very good fit for this event.”

photo First Look: Cadillac's plug-in CT6 luxury sedan images

photo of First Look: Cadillac's plug-in CT6 luxury sedan

Article First Look: Cadillac's plug-in CT6 luxury sedan compiled by www.latimes.com

Relax First Look: Cadillac's plug-in CT6 luxury sedan stories

First Drive: 2017 BMW 5 Series

BMW attempts to reconcile the seemingly dichotomous concepts of driving enjoyment and autonomous technology with its new 2017 5 Series.

More stories