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Spied: Cadillac CT5 prowling around Melbourne

All-new Cadillac CT5 pics stoke rumours of sedan revival for GM in Australia

4 Feb 2020

NEW spy shots have emerged of a fully camouflaged Cadillac CT5 medium sedan roaming the streets of Melbourne, signalling Holden’s ongoing global engineering and development work with General Motors’ luxury brand and adding fuel to rumours that Caddy is still on the agenda for a return to Australia.


Test vehicles in various states of camouflage have been spotted around Melbourne since the middle of 2019, prompting rumours that GM could be planning a replacement for the Holden Commodore once production of its Opel-sourced ZB Commodore runs out.


This trail has gone cold since Holden announced in December that it was discontinuing sales of the Commodore during 2020, after racking up more than three million local sales since the arrival of the original VB Commodore in 1978.


Despite the Commodore finishing last year as the lion brand’s second best-selling model behind the Colorado pick-up, Holden is now planning to transition itself into an SUV and light-commercial vehicle brand – albeit with some exotic additions to the showroom such as the forthcoming Chevrolet Corvette.


So Cadillac still potentially fits into this scenario, as does Hummer, which GM announced last week will make a comeback as a high-performance full-electric truck brand, entering production next year.


As for the camouflaged CT5, which replaced the CTS in the Cadillac line-up and went on sale in the US in the final quarter of last year, the most likely explanation for its appearance on Australian roads is for ongoing testing by Holden’s engineering division based at the Lang Lang proving ground in South Gippsland in country Victoria.


A GM Holden spokesperson told GoAuto that the CT5 was undergoing engine management system and transmission calibration, and that GM vehicles from all over the globe were still being brought Down Under for finetuning.


The spokesperson also confirmed that the Lang Lang-based global engineering team’s size and impact was unaffected by the discontinuation of the Commodore, and that it would remain business as usual for testing vehicles from the worldwide GM portfolio.


The fitment of a towbar on the test vehicle also gives the impression that the towing ability of the new sedan is being tested.


Lang Lang and the greater Melbourne region is also used by Holden to test suspension, steering and drivetrain characteristics for local models, leaving the door open for the possibility of Cadillac entering the Australian market.


While Cadillac does not currently manufacture any of its vehicles in right-hand drive, GM president Mark Reuss has said in the past it would be possible to bring the luxury American brand to Australia.


During Mr Reuss’ stint as GM Holden chairman and managing director in 2008 and 2009, Cadillac was on the verge of launching into the Australian market.


However, the global financial crisis scuttled those plans and Caddy was shelved.


When he was back Down Under in August 2018, providing a united front with newly appointed Holden chief Dave Buttner (who subsequently stepped down late last year) and announcing an expansion of the Australian engineering program, Mr Reuss also told media that the US auto giant had not ruled out having another crack at bringing Cadillac to this market.


He said there were right-hand-drive Cadillacs on the ground in Australia around the time of the planned launch in 2009, and that General Motors was still “certainly capable” of reigniting the right-hook program if there was a solid enough business case.


Also in 2018, Cadillac global design chief (and expat Australian) Andrew Smith told GoAuto that he would love to see Cadillac launch Down Under, with his comments coming year after the luxury brand said it planned to shore up its business in China, the US and Europe before expanding into other markets.


“I am the biggest fan for bringing it there (Australia),” Mr Smith said at the time.


“I have been on the record in the past for saying that I think it would be a perfect fit there. I can’t say much more than that right now, but I would love to see it there.”


Introducing Cadillac to Australia could give GM a serious shot in the arm Down Under, with Holden sales in freefall since the discontinuation of the locally manufactured VFII Commodore in 2017.


The GM Holden spokesperson reiterated to GoAuto that the brand does not comment on future product.


The new CT5 could also help fill the performance sedan void left by the VFII SS, with the most potent powertrain choice coming in the form of a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 on the CT5-V good for 269kW/550Nm, with rear- or all-wheel drive available.


While the regular CT5 has gone on sale in the States, the CT5-V is set to launch early this year, suggesting some last-minute finetuning is taking place.


GM also revealed last week that the Cadillac CT6 will be killed off as part of its plan to retool the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant that currently produces the  flagship sedan, making way for a range of all-electric pick-ups and SUVs.

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