New York Auto Show: Cadillac's CT6 to Take on Audi, Mercedes and BMW

Cadillac CT6

The first car in Cadillac's multibillion-dollar rebranding is part of a trend among American luxury carmakers to recapture their place in the lucrative premium car market.

Cadillac's CT6, the company's long-fomenting re-entry into the large luxury car market, made its debut at the New York International Auto Show this week.

Along with Lincoln Motors' Continental concept, the CT6 is a bid to reclaim the hearts and wallets of upscale car buyers — especially in trend-setting markets like New York and Hollywood — who are more inclined to buy luxury sedans made by Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi and Jaguar.

The luxury car market is growing faster than the overall car market, especially in China, where sales of full-size luxury sedans leapt 17 percent last year, Ford CEO Mark Fields said at the Continental's unveiling Tuesday. (Tesla announced on Friday that first quarter sales of its $70,000 Model S increased 55 percent over the first quarter last year.)

With profits on luxury cars larger than less-expensive vehicles and demand for premium vehicles seemingly insatiable — there is a months-long waiting list for Porsche's Macan, and Cadillac is having difficulty meeting demand for its Escalade SUV — Ford and General Motors are unsurprisingly investing billions in their luxury car divisions. 

Cadillac is aggressively ditching its dowdy image, moving its headquarters to Manhattan's Soho neighborhood and launching an Apple-like marketing campaign based on the slogan, "Dare Greatly." The campaign, Cadillac's marketing chief, Uwe Ellinghaus, told The Hollywood Reporter when it launched on the eve of the 2015 Academy Awards, has "only one task: to disrupt people's perception of Cadillac."

Although some expressed disappointment that the CT6 was not as daring as the Elmiraj concept that Cadillac presented at previous auto shows, the CT6 — along with Lincoln's Continental — are the first American luxury sedans to have finally cracked the elusive dress code of European luxury cars. 

The CT6 will sticker for around $70,000 — which puts it in direct competition with Audi's A8 flagship. On Thursday, Audi of America CEO Scott Keogh was spotted checking out the CT6 at the New York Auto Show but declined to comment on the car, other than to say, "We take every competitor seriously."