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Cadillac CT6: Top luxury on six cylinders

Cadillac defies conventional wisdom for its new flagship luxury sedan, offering not eight, but six cylinders under the hood.

NEW YORK -- Cadillac unveiled its new top luxury sedan ahead of its public display at the New York auto show. This all-new CT6 model features the luxury for which Cadillac is known, and a high-tech approach to driving that will put it ahead of the competition.

Notably, Cadillac will offer the CT6 with three engines, with not a V-8 among them, defying the usual logic of the big luxury sedan segment. Instead, the CT6's top engine will be a 3-liter V-6 using twin turbochargers to produce a massive 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. That is a substantially larger power figure than BMW gets from its similarly-sized turbocharged engine.

Lesser engine options are a 3.6-liter V-6 making 335 horsepower and a surprisingly small turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine, good for 265 horsepower. This latter engine option looks designed for International markets where economy is more important than power.

A 10.2-inch HD screen occupies the center dashboard, while screens on the instrument cluster show driver assist and infotainment systems. Cadillac

Built on a rear-wheel-drive platform, Cadillac will offer the car with an all-wheel-drive option, and notes that its infinitely variable clutch continuously varies power to the front wheels, likely aiming for efficiency and best traction. Remarkably, the CT6 model will also come with all-wheel steering, so that the rear wheels angle in response to steering input, reducing the overall turning circle of the car. Acura offers a similar system in its RLX luxury sedan .

Using aluminum body panels and structural members, the CT6 weighs as much as the smaller CTS model , according to Cadillac. That light weight paired with efficient engine options and an eight-speed automatic transmission should translate to good fuel economy in its segment.

In the cabin, an updated Cadillac User Experience (CUE) interface for audio, navigation and phone systems appears on a large 10.2-inch LCD. Cadillac notes the resolution as 1,280x720 HD. Content on the screen is controlled using a touchpad on the console, which Cadillac says can accommodate letter tracing for alphanumeric inputs, similar to systems offered by BMW and Audi. As with all new GM vehicles, the CT6 will benefit from the latest generation of OnStar, which enables a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot in the car.

A new audio system from Bose called Panaray brings a remarkable 34 speakers into the CT6's cabin. Rather than a traditional subwoofer, woofer and tweeter format, this new system uses many small speakers placed around the cabin.

Cadillac mutes its past styling on the CT6, putting it in line with recent models such as the ATS. Cadillac

Cadillac will be taking steps towards autonomous driving with the CT6, including features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, and possibly debuting its Super Cruise technology, which can allow hands-free driving in stop-and-go traffic. At launch, the CT6 will offer automated parking, going a step further than current systems by letting the car apply its own brakes. Cadillac's new Rear Camera Mirror will see its debut on the CT6, displaying a camera view on the cabin rearview mirror, allowing for greater rearward visibility. The CT6 will also offer a surround view camera system.

Cadillac has not had a competitor in the large sedan luxury market for a few years, instead watching Mercedes-Benz and Lexus dominate, and new models from the likes of Kia and Hyundai crop up. The 2016 CT6 finally gives Cadillac a player in a segment its reputation suggests it should have been holding onto all along.

This new model relies heavily on technology to put Cadillac back in the game, but the company is taking a risk by not offering a V-8. Although its twin-turbo V-6 will be more than powerful enough, Cadillac seems willing to bet on a new generation of luxury buyers that will be more concerned with output and efficiency than counting cylinders. And if all Cadillac's efforts towards improving the handling and comfort of the CT6 pan out, it may earn the company its long-desired mantle of a luxury performance-car maker.

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