My Car Quest

October 23, 2020

Marketing: Cadillac Ciel Concept

by Wallace Wyss –

YouTube is a wonderful thing; you can dial up your favorite car ad see a video of it driving down the highway. On YouTube I found a video of one of my favorite concept cars of the last few years, the Cadillac Ciel, a four door convertible.

It shows four people gadding about top down om California’s Highway 1 in an open car while the sun sets, the route from Big Sur north to Monterey. A quote from the press kit was:

“Large, expressive luxury is innate to Cadillac and the Ciel recalls that heritage, while suggesting where the brand can go in the future,” said Clay Dean, global design director for Cadillac.

“Authentic luxury is driven by experiences, not just products, and Ciel is about the experience of the journey.”

“The Ciel is about the romance of the drive,” said Dean. “It emulates the great touring cars seen on the greens at Pebble Beach, but with a modern flair that projects Cadillac’s vision for the future.”

Cadillac Ciel Concept

Now I remember driving a four door convertible, a white Lincoln, and when Cadillac said this configuration “embraces the social aspects of a recreational journey, with generous room for two couples. It evokes the spirit of the classics with a long, low proportion,” they were right. The Lincoln and this experimental Caddy both had rear legroom. But the Ciel’s convertible top was not worked on and the car is obsolete now so we will never know if it would have had rear seat legroom once they used up 1 1/2 ft. in length for the convertible top (could always reduce the trunk room volume…)

The car probably weighed 300 lbs. more than it should have because there they thought it was so cool to have the doors meet where there was no B-pillar so had to make up for the loss of rigidity. I say nobody cares if it has B=pillars so they should have had them there to give the doors something to attach to.

It had a very strong personality in the nose with Cadillac’s vertical running lights and hidden headlamps. The side fender lines were stronger than the Lincolns but the tail was a bit over-reaching, with a rise in the trunk lid not needed.

In the press release they said “Ciel’s exterior flows seamlessly into the cabin, with the body color rolling over on top of the interior door panels. Like the exterior, the passenger space is accented with sweeping nickel-plated trim. It divides the body-color upper sections from a complementing beige lower color.”

Cadillac used premium materials–Italian Olive wood, machined aluminum and hand-tipped leather, the leather with rich tones.

Cadillac Ciel Concept

“There is authentic craftsmanship in the way the exterior and interior elements meld, much like a vintage wooden boat,” said Gael Buzyn, interior design manager.

“It is romantic, not only in its form, but the materials – nothing smells as good as real wood and leather. It blends together for a rewarding feeling of uncompromising luxury.”

Cadillac got little overwrought in describing the color: “The Cabernet paint color, developed specifically for Ciel, is inspired by the rich translucence of a glass of red wine held up to the sunlight.”

The body sides, for example, are more rounded, sweeping upward. Bright work is used to bring contrast to the deep paint color, but plays a more supporting role.

The car rides on large, beautifully finished wheels that feature brushed nickel plating over milled billet aluminum, matching the materials and appearance of other trim. Carbon ceramic brake rotors are visible behind the 22-inch rims.

Interior Design

Simplicity, authenticity and spaciousness were the guiding principles when it came to developing the Ciel’s interior.

A wheelbase of 125 inches – about 12 inches longer than their production CTS sedan – provide generous space. The seats are bisected by a “floating” center console that runs from the instrument panel to the rear of the interior.

Cadillac Ciel Concept

It effectively creates a very personal space for each passenger and houses access to hidden connectivity portals for each person in the vehicle – allowing them to make dinner reservations, check the weather at their destination or even upload photos of the trip via social media sights.

Simplicity is also the watchword with the Ciel’s instrument panel, but when they brag “The climate vents, for example, are mostly hidden and their airflow is distributed indirectly” I say when it’s 100 def. F I want vent aimed directly toward me.

Transparent gauges are set into brushed-aluminum housings like a high-quality chronograph. They offer dual readouts – analog and digital – as well as an information hierarchy.

Additional interior features include:

• Sloping bolsters on the seats that allow passengers to slide into the seats more comfortably
• A personal device storage area on the front of the console with inductive charging and Bluetooth connectivity
• A power-assisted transmission shifter that deploys as soon as the engine is started
• Lighting in the armrests that combines a natural light well for daytime driving and ambient lighting for nighttime drives
• Door storage areas that are inspired by premium fashion accessories and open with high-quality zippers
• Pull-out blankets are available for all three passengers and retract automatically
• All the seats have heating and cooling features, along with a drawer containing sun lotion, sun glasses and towels, as well as aromatherapy that is controlled from the rear armrest.

Italian Olive wood was used on the doors, instrument panel, console and the front seatbacks, adding says Cadillac “warmth and craftsmanship to a car designed to provoke an emotional response”.

“Milled solid wood delivers richness and a sensual feeling of authenticity in the visual impact of the grain, its feel and aroma, which a veneer simply cannot,” said Buzyn.

So as to not turn off any tree huggers, Cadillac said “material used in the Ciel came from a single fallen and recycled tree, from a west coast producer of premium olive oil. It was painstakingly prepared, including drying in a kiln, before it was cut for the concept vehicle. The numerous pieces were then photographed so that the grain could be matched precisely. Each component was hand-milled and finished by expert woodworking craftsmen.”The rear seat passengers can pull a leather tab, which reveals a cashmere blanket that stretches across the seating area to ward off a chill. The wood trim in the rear center console opens to reveal a small humidor, stocked with a few cigars.

Cadillac Ciel Concept

The interior though was disappointing to me. I would have liked a traditional dash, on the order of a ’60s Bentley–acres of wood and round gauges. But the had a mish-mash that was not as memorable as the rest of the car.

I didn’t realize until several years later it has a V6, a twin turbo V6 but still, for the weight of the car, to me you need the grunt torque of say a 5-liter V8 even if Caddy says it had 425 hp. I don’t understand their transmission description as “hybrid with low-speed all-electric drive.” I suspect it was conventional with that alluding to something they had in mind for production.

What I like about the car is the headrest fairings in back. Ever since the ’62 Thunderbird Sport Roadster I like headrest fairings.

Cadillac Ciel Concept

I think Cadillac should have built this in production because:

1.) Lincoln didn’t have a convertible.

2.) It could have been the styling leader for the whole Division.

3.) It could have sold for $125,000.

Now a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and it’s just too big a car to build, but I think a four door convertible says luxury and I’d like to see them do a Ciel II. Oh, and make the concept so the top works–so we can see what it looks like with the top up.

Cadillac Ciel Concept – Technical Specifications

Wheelbase (in / mm): 125 / 3175
Length (in / mm): 203.7 / 5174
Width (in / mm): 77.5 / 1968
Height (in / mm): 50 / 1270
Driveline layout: four-door, four-passenger convertible with longitudinally mounted front engine and all-wheel drive
Engine type: 3.6L V-6 with twin turbochargers; DOHC, continuously variable valve timing and direct injection
Horsepower (hp / kW): 425 / 317
Torque (lb-ft / Nm): 430 / 583
Transmission: hybrid with low-speed all-electric drive
Front suspension: independent SLA with monotube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
Rear suspension: independent multilink with monotube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS; vented front rotors with six-piston calipers and solid rear rotors with four-piston calipers
Wheel size and type: 22 x 9-inch aluminum with brushed nickel accents
Tire size: 265/35R22

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the co-host of Autotalk, a weekly radio show on cars broadcast from KUCR FM Riverside.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Summary
Marketing: Cadillac Ciel Concept
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Marketing: Cadillac Ciel Concept
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Now a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and it's just too big a car to build, but I think a four door convertible says luxury and I'd like to see them do a Ciel II.
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