A sinisterly sophisticated sculpture, quiet American psycho; the Escala perches on the turntable with a presence no Cadillac has wielded in decades.
The car brings a feeling of superiority to the forefront, the Escala isn't just another aspiration to compete at the highest end of the U.S luxury market; it's Cadillac's arrival. Because of that, Escala will be the de facto face of Cadillac by 2018, its horizontal lighting elements will be featured across the lineup, ditto for the rear end treatment and the ethos of the interior.
But it's not just the physical Escala will inject into Cadillac's lineup, it brings bad guy swagger in a Lex Luther, Thomas Crown, Darth Vader, Jamie Dimon kind of way which demands respect--loved because it's loathed, and loathed because it's truly the Standard of the World.
Along with Ciel and Elmiraj, the brand views Escala as the final piece in its transformative trilogy; the 2011 Ciel marked Cadillac's commitment to its journey, the 2013 Elmiraj was a celebration of the ongoing drive, while the 2016 Escala signals the brand's arrival.
Jennifer Kraska, Cadillac's Interior Design Manager, was coy about whether the Escala would also donate its high end materials, curved OLED displays, and metal switchgear to the rest of the brand's products, but did say the essence will certainly be there. Kraska told me the Escala was designed through regular production channels, coming together in the GM Design Center in Warren, Michigan, instead of the Advanced Design studio in California.
Kraska stresses the Escala's interior was an exercise in simplicity, but the challenge was ensuring it didn't come off as incomplete, something she says we'll begin to see in the next generation of Cadillac interiors. Where the CT6 falls severely short of expectations, is inside; the technology feels gimmicky, like it was designed to distract you from the car's shortcomings, more so than reinforcing what the brand is.
Cadillac continues to promise us a proper flagship, but even if the Escala never reaches production, it's legacy will be filling in the gaps between what Cadillac says it is, and what Cadillacs actually are. Proof Cadillac is serious about returning to the top, its iconic Cadillac flying goddess, which hasn't been seen since the '50s was brought out of cold storage and adorns the new infotainment controller.
The Escala isn't an inviting vehicle, but an imposing one; it doesn't ask for your attention, it takes it, it owns it and it dominates it. Dare Greatly Cadillac, put the male ballerinas and eclectic ski trips back in the closet and embrace your dark side.