Cadillac came to Pebble Beach this week with a big surprise in tow — a brand new luxury concept car that Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen says will guide the interior and exterior design of production Cadillacs for the foreseeable future. That’s a long way of saying that the Escala probably will never be sold, but if some of the ideas in this car become Cadillac mainstays, they could position themselves as smart car leaders.
In fairness, Cadillac already is a smart car leader — their CUE infotainment system was one of the first in 2011, and they’ve been very good about bringing advanced safety features to their cars quickly and often. The Escala concept doesn’t introduce any new features, exactly, but it does have something that will make using those features a lot more fun. Forget about today’s dash-embedded tablets — the Escala has a massive three-screen curved OLED display running across the dash in front of the driver, which can be interacted with using voice or gesture controls.
But, being a Cadillac, most of the design features in the Escala are based on luxury. Nysschen says the Escala was based on the idea of a chauffeur car that the person being chauffeured wants to drive, and it shows inside and out. That OLED display array is surrounded by leather and walnut, along with aluminum details. The front seats are also leather, but things change when you get into the backseat. In the rear, there are more walnut details, while the seats are covered in a wool textile that has stitching similar to that of a tailored suit.
On the outside, the front grille has a more squared, broad stance than the Elmiraj concept from 2013. It retains the vertical headlights and taillights introduced in that concept, while adding a horizontal bar of lights in the front and new LED and OLED lights in the rear. The 22″ wheels have been retained, but with a more distinctive (and probably polarizing) spoke pattern. Like the Elmiraj, the Escala also has a twin-turbo V8 engine, although de Nysschen also says the Escala has features that increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
The power in this particular car doesn’t much matter, but if the Escala does inform design of Cadillac’s production vehicles, it looks like they’ll be focusing on the driving experience as much as they will on interior luxury. But, we’re all about that OLED display array — it’s probably going to be way too distracting, but we’re never going to be able to look at today’s in-car displays the same way after seeing what Cadillac has planned.
If you want to get a closer look at the Escala, you can still watch Cadillac’s unveiling on their Facebook page.