The room pulses with heavy booms of bass. Sharply dressed waiters offer flutes of bubbly on shiny trays. Men are in tailored suits, women in sleek heels. It’s loud, and it’s full of energy.
The room is more akin to a nightclub than a car launch, but the latter is in fact the reason for the occasion. This is Cadillac House, the beloved car brand’s pop-up exhibition and event space in Manhattan’s well-heeled Soho neighbourhood. And this particular party, for the global reveal of the Cadillac XT4, is a strong representation of where the American company is headed.
Turning its sights to the younger market of luxury car buyers, Cadillac began a bold transformation about four years ago, injecting itself with a healthy dose of youthfulness and relevance. “I trust you can sense the vibe in the room this evening, like the vibrant energy taking root at Cadillac,” says president Johan de Nysschen, addressing assembled guests before the XT4’s big unveiling. “This new Cadillac vehicle is part of that transformation taking place here at global headquarters in Soho.”
The 2019 XT4 marks Cadillac’s first-ever compact SUV. With a muscular body, an all-new engine, and the company’s classic rear light blades, the XT4 is, Cadillac hopes, the car that will take things to the next level in terms of enticing up-and-coming luxury customers.
“What’s exciting about being in Cadillac is I’m the oldest person on the Cadillac Canada team,” says managing director Hossein Hassani, seated at the Dominique Ansel-catered cafe at Cadillac’s New York International Auto Show (March 30 to April 8, 2018) stage. It’s the day after the XT4 reveal, and just minutes after a press conference for another launch: the 2019 CT6 V-Sport. “We’ve got a lot of young designers that are working on the brand, and in fact the team that designed the XT4 is among our youngest group of designers,” Hassani continues. “It’s just a very high-energy time to be working on the brand.”
Things in Canada in particular are getting ready to heat up, with General Motors moving Cadillac’s national headquarters from Oshawa to Toronto in the next few years. With that new downtown Toronto home, Hassani coyly teases, will come some kind of Canadian Cadillac House. “We are figuring out in Canada what the right approach is for Cadillac House,” he says. “If we’re going to do something, particularly something community-oriented like what Cadillac House is about, we want to make sure that there’s a purpose behind it that isn’t just a marketing purpose, a marketing agenda—that it adds something to that community.” He also admits it is “a safe bet” that Book by Cadillac, the brand’s car subscription service that allows members to access Cadillac’s full fleet, will launch here at some point. “We’ve got a lot of firsts cooking for Canada,” Hossein confirms, though he won’t elaborate further just yet.
Until then, enthusiasts can look forward to the XT4 and the CT6 V-Sport, both of which will be available this fall. Beyond that? Well, consider us along for the ride.
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