Luxury cars

Cadillac to launch new torque-based powertrain naming scheme with XT6

The alphanumeric structure will be used for gas and electric cars.

Cadillac

The 2020 XT6 crossover will be the first Cadillac model to use a new, alphanumeric badging system for the brand's powertrains. The badges will consist of a three-digit torque rating, in Newton-meters, followed by an optional T if the engine is turbocharged -- 350T, 400T and so on. That replaces existing displacement-based badges like 2.0T.

The XT6's 3.6-liter V6 engine is rated for 271 pound-feet of torque, or 373 Newton-meters, so it gets the 400 badge pictured here.

All Cadillacs will adopt this badging strategy for the 2020 model year.

Cadillac

Cadillac President Steve Carlisle made the announcement Wednesday in Detroit, saying that the new badges would be applied to all Cadillacs starting in the 2020 model year. The naming will also be used for future electric models, though he wasn't ready to divulge which letter would be used instead of T on EVs. He described the strategy as one that makes sense in an era of downsized turbo engines and an onslaught of electrics.

"We're not talking about displacements any more," Carlisle said. "Its purpose is to communicate power and performance, not just for ICE [internal combustion] engines, but also for other propulsion." Cadillac plans to launch its first all-electric model, teased as a crossover concept, in 2022.

The three-digit torque number will be rounded to the nearest 50, so you won't see badges like "407T." Models without turbocharging will simply have the three-digit number, without the T. And the company's V-Series high-performance cars, including the forthcoming CT6-V, will stick with their existing "-V" badge.

While American consumers are accustomed to measuring torque in pound-feet, Carlisle said using Newton-meters makes more sense for Cadillac's global operations. "It's metric, it's universal, it's global, we have to think about all the markets that we're doing business in," he said, adding that on top of that, "Engineers certainly prefer Newton-meters."

Carlisle said Cadillac is committed to keeping its alphanumeric car names (such as XT4 or CT6) for now because it works well globally, but he said there are exceptions for cases like the Escalade because "special cars get special names."

Cadillac's decision to ditch displacement-based powertrain badges recalls Audi's similar move in 2017. Though they are not being used in the US market, Audi's badges consist of a double-digit number indicating the engine's relative power. For instance, a "45" badge means an engine making 227 to 248 horsepower.