2016 Cadillac Escala Concept Car Interior

Last week I mentioned a bit of news from Cadillac and promised I would return to that when the car had been revealed. That happened. Here is my response.

2016 Cadillaci Escala interior: source
2016 Cadillac Escala interior: source

As you might recall the teaser photo drew our attention to the spangly OLED technology which is going to grace Cadillacs in future. I expected the follow-up news to deal with a new exterior form-language for Cadillac. Much of the commentary dealt with that, with less on the interior. Previous Cadillac show cars at Pebble Beach included the well-received Ciel of 2011 and the Elmiraj coupe from 2013 and people expected something more production-ready. They discussed that too. 

2016 Cadillac Escala interior rear: source
2016 Cadillac Escala interior rear: our source

While the Escala’s exterior design is notable for its balance of the new and the believable, the aspect that caught my attention was a detail related to the interior. The muted colours of pale blue-grey and cream with dark grey accents underplay the comfortable forms and the fabric choice: after what seems like a long absence, wool is making a reappearance. According to fool.com the cloth fabric is “inspired by suiting material used by Cadillac’s partners in the fashion industry”. Cadillac say that as well. It does not seem to be used on all the seat faces but on panels and doors, more at the rear than the front. TTAC describes it as hand-made, aren’t show cars all hand-made? In the front the seats faces are what looks like pale hide and on the doors the main material is the blue-grey fabric. In the rear the pale hide dominates on the doors and the seats themselves are mostly finished in grey fabric. Compare the front and back photos. It’s quite clever since you don’t notice that the front and rear seats are different until close scrutiny (I had a “wow” moment when I realized that). That difference in colour use supports the idea of front and rear passengers having different needs and wanting different experiences. The feeling you get from the interior is of Alvar Aalto meeting Parker Knoll in 1965. Yet it’s not overtly retro.

Note the wool fabric is woven and not a velour or felt-type material. The colour and the weave lend the material a contemporary and technical feel. Its main attribute will be the felt warmth compared to cotton-synthetic blends. The next step might be to show this same fabric with brighter colours. Wool takes dyes very well and its structure means the fabrics have a deep rich saturation to them. What would this material look like in a Buick or Opel?

Cadillac’s website doesn’t say very much about the materials other than noting the fashion link and that “the fabric provides a new level of hand-applied craftsmanship and colour, unique in today’s auto interior landscape”. Missing from the interior mix is very much wood – it’s there in discrete strips- while brightwork is used in places in manner reminiscent of high-quality luggage – not a bad material reference for a car interior which much be made to look luxurious and resist wear. Dark wood – often polished – has been a reference point since Lincoln’s concept cars of the 00’s. Switching away from this dark, rich look brings what might be seen as a Scandinavian lightness to the interior. This interior saves the wood for a smaller expanse, right along the driver’s line of sight.

A note on the exterior: the fastback format is major break for Cadillac but Rolls have gone down this route along with Audi and BMW. Chrome is a perennial favourite topic here. The Escala has a meaningful zigging garnish behind the front wheel which draws attention to the tapering pontoon form on the bodyside.  It also stresses the axle-to-dash ratio in a good way. Some styling elements of the Escala will appear in 2019 on the CT5.

I don’t expect Cadillac will be able to execute this standard of finish on a production car but the point is that it might show braver firms what can be done with fabric and colours. Having seen some 70’s Fords and Opel’s with their upper-spec fabric interiors it seems to me that cloths are due for a re-appraisal, especially as technology in textiles has improved so much to the advantage of its handling and durability.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

17 thoughts on “2016 Cadillac Escala Concept Car Interior”

  1. I find the exterior unconvincing, especially compared with the long-serving and successful ‘Art & Science’ look, but the interior is a triumph in its use and combination of materials. Replace the digital dash with proper dials for the driver (at least too, perhaps in a nice muted metal finish) and we have a winner!

    1. Even allowing for the fact that this is a conceptual interior, the contrast between this and Jaguar’s current efforts is painfully apparent.

    2. Fairer to compare with Cadillac’s current production cabins, which are competent but suffer from the tall and bluff central console that afflicts other GM products.

      I have no idea why it is so difficult to produce a wider range of materials, such as wool, for car interiors. Clearly, furniture for the home is available in a wide range of fabrics. Why not car seats?

    3. LOL. These DtW people seem to consider themselves above the abuse normally thrown around the internet, but we’ll prove them wrong!

  2. Incidentally, the exterior is fine with me. It has interestingly expressed details like the badge/grille group, the tail-lamps like fins and a really pleasing pontoon graphic that virtually intersects way behind the car. GM hires some great designers but seldom realises their work. Are they stopping the competition this way? The 2016 Buick Avista really impressed me as a vision of Buick – and alas, we probably won’t see that. GM sometimes infuriates me with their ability to trip themselves up. That said: *who* really puts their concepts into production?

  3. Much as I really, really like this interior treatment, wool has historically been somewhat problematic in car interiors. It tends to be a little scratchy against the skin. Nevertheless, I’m sure there are ways of blending it with other materials to offset this problem. After all if it can be used successfully in latter-day cycling clothing…

    1. I take it you haven´t seen my range of wool jackets. They are very smooth and robust. I have a lambswool garment which is especially cosy to wear. The nice thing about winter is getting to wear that jacket!
      It depends on the treatment whether the wool has a scratchy feel. I´m not an expert in textiles but I imagine that the length of the strands, the twilling and the subsequent “shaving” can deal with any stray wires of wool. The thing I liked most about my first XM was the wool-blend velour. It really had a super-texture. And I´ve patted the wool fabric of old Lancias. It feels fine to me. Maybe I am less sensitive?

    2. Richard, Is that akin to asking someone in to see one’s etchings? ‘Come in and see my range of wool jackets…’ I mean, who could resist such an invitation? Not I.

      In fairness though, you have a point, it’s all in the mix. I recently travelled in an early XJ40 – (I know, all roads lead Coventry-wards). The wool upholstery felt a little grainy to the touch. It would have not have been advisable to have worn shorts, let’s say. Of course such apparel would have been déclassé in that setting anyway, but just by observation…

  4. I imagine such an invitation to inspect a woollen jacket would be entirely untainted by any suggestions of inappropriate behaviour: after all, one wears the jackets outdoors. To be honest, I hadn´t thought about it like that. I lead a sheltered life, I suppose.

    1. Frankly my comments probably say more about my purile sense of humour than your dress sense…

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