Another day, another epic engine going where it really ought not to - excellent news. We thought the days of the supercharged V8 Cadillac V car was done with the launch of the mighty CT5-V Blackwing. Quite a way for an illustrious line of flagships to bow out. But no, it turns out, as here we have the first (and presumably last, given Cadillac’s commitment to an EV future) Escalade-V. Not only is it Cadillac’s first V-Series SUV, it's also claimed to be the industry’s most powerful full-size SUV. It's maker pitches it as nothing less than “an elevation of design, performance and technology and the purest expression of the passion that exists at the core of Cadillac.”
There’s plenty of passion under the bonnet, that’s for certain. The 6.2-litre supercharged V8 is carried over from the CT5, here with 690hp at 6,000rpm and 653lb ft at 4,400rpm thanks to a bigger 2.65-litre TVS supercharger; even with the weight of a moon to move (2,820kg as standard and 2,906kg for the ESV long wheelbase) Cadillac says 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds is possible. It’s even sent the Escalade-V down the drag strip, clocking a 12.74-second quarter mile at 110mph. A ten-speed auto is standard, and both can still tow more than three tonnes. There isn’t a top speed yet confirmed for the car, presumably as there wasn’t R&D budget for the fuel; the EPA-estimated mpg is “not yet available”…
As has become V tradition and despite appearances, the Escalade is about more than just straight-line mayhem. Underneath is a bespoke version of Cadillac’s fourth generation magnetic damping, stiffer air springs, revised software, ‘exclusive Escalade-V suspension hardware’ and an electronic limited-slip diff. That lot is all adjustable by the driver, with different settings for the suspension, brake pedal feel, steering, powertrain, engine sound and all-wheel drive system. A V-Mode drops the car by 20mm for when canyon carving calls. The wheels, in case you were wondering, are 22-inch in diameter, wearing 275-section tyres at each corner; there are Brembo calipers at the front, which you’d imagine are going to have their work cut out stopping more than 6,000lb of Cadillac.
No Escalade has been subtle in the 20-plus years that Caddy has been making them, so it stands to reason that the $150k flagship makes an impact. Unique upgrades for the V include four ginormous exhausts, a blacked-out mesh grille, red calipers and what might actually be considered a pretty modest bodykit. V badges abound, of course, as they also do inside, which ought to please all three rows of passengers. As will the 36-speaker (!) audio system, Augmented Reality and Super Cruise assisted driving. Just the thing to give the driver chance to check out the OLED display with 38 inches of dials and “twice the pixel density of a 4K television.”
Quite the automobile, then - an Escalade-V looks a bit OTT even by US standards, which is some achievement. And dare it be said, exactly the sort of silliness we’ll miss when supercharged V8s are replaced by batteries and motors. They’re only giving the people what they want, after all: “Customers and enthusiasts have asked for an Escalade-V, and we’re thrilled to bring this high-performance SUV to market in the year of Cadillac’s 120th anniversary,” said Caddy Vice Pres Rory Harvey.
“We do not deploy the V-Series designation lightly. The arrival of the 2023 Escalade-V is the result of a rigorous development program that allows this highly anticipated model to meet the criteria and capability thresholds established by nearly two decades of inspired V-Series performance.” Don’t pretend like you wouldn’t want even just a quick drive, however daft the prospect. The Escalade will go on sale in the US in the summer, priced at $149,990. Grab ‘em while they’re hot, people, they won’t be around forever…
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