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2020 Cadillac CT5 in New York: 7 questions with the chief engineer

© Drew Phillips

By Zac Palmer, Autoblog

Cadillac revealed the 2020 CT5 at the New York Auto Show, and we decided to sit down and have a chat with chief engineer Mike Bride to learn more about the car. You can read our reveal post here to get the full download, and then read on below to learn a bit more. Cadillac is still rather coy about any performance model to spawn from the CT5, but things appear to be looking up after our conversation that you can read below.


Q: What's the driving nature of this car? Should we expect something similar to the CTS and ATS?

A: Yes, you can see it's built off the rear-wheel-drive architecture. Our goal was to retain all of that fun-to-drive nature. Direct steering feel, responsive handling. Going forward, we ask how we can continuously improve, and that was really about driving more sophistication in the ride, a much more mannered car that's better for impact harshness and rolling isolation, really provides comfort when you want comfort over tire strips and heaves in the road. Really getting that level of isolation, but not compromising that handling and direct steering feel of the Cadillac sedans we've grown accustomed to.


Q: How is this car different from the CTS underneath, and other Alpha platform cars?

A: I would say this is a major revision. A lot of new parts, a lot of new part numbers, a significant evolution. In the suspension space, the links are all new, and there's been a lot of work done in isolation, so the bushings and strut mounts are all new. We've evolved the Alpha platform to now get the ride control and road isolation, the comfort aspects of it all. There are a lot of structural improvements like a changed wheelbase, an evolution in rear foot-swing and foot space from the fuel tank area to get in and out of the car better.

© Drew Phillips

As we developed this structure, it was about overall structural body stiffness, and impedance at the chassis attachments to really get that level of isolation from road inputs. We try to have a calm floor, a steering wheel that doesn't vibrate, and quiet to the driver's ear. Those were the paths we went after to really drive the structure to the right stiffness requirements, structural integrity, a lot of development into suspension bushings, tuning elements, strut mounts. We have a new damper technology, a ZF damper. It has MVS damper technology. It's a multi-valve system that provides less harshness from an NVH standpoint and a great optimization balance of motion control with ride inputs. So we'll be able to get great handling and still maintain a softer ride. I think we're the first out, an industry exclusive, with these shocks. There's a suspension change, rubber change, linear travels, a lot of work with the tires. We have new technology with sealant tires that provide great damping and rolling isolation and even the run-flats are a new generation of tire.


Q: What's the reasoning behind this design? Sportback shape?

A: We took some inspiration from the Escala, that fastback profile and developing from a design standpoint, the proportions, tires at the corners, short overhangs, wide stance, getting a vehicle that looks like it's athletic.

© Drew Phillips

We also went at it from a sound standpoint, really trying to drive cabin noise down as far as we could go. That was driving that road noise, wind noise and powertrain noise down to minimums. Taking the unwanted noise out, and bringing the attractive noises in and other Cadillac curated sounds.


Q: Let's chat about the new badging, in using the Newton-meter approximate value on the decklid of the CT5.

A: This is a Cadillac strategy, and it's a look to the future. We announced the idea that we're coming with an electric lineup in the future. Obviously, engine displacement doesn't exist anymore with an electric lineup, so how do you differentiate between performance models. Torque will still be a differentiator. So I think it was a look to the future. In terms of Newton meters versus foot-pounds it's debatable, but we're a global company and we want it to be globally relevant throughout the world.


Q: Are there any mechanical differences between the Sport and Luxury trims?

A: Specifically to the suspension, they are the same. There's a thicker-rimmed steering wheel and lateral bolsters in the seat on the Sport. Brembo brakes are standard on the Sport, too. We will have summer tires on a future variant that we're not going to discuss that is near-term.


Q: Tell us more about this "future variant."

A: Stay tuned. More to come on that one. It'll be a good news story.


Q: Manual transmission?

A: Discussion for another day. Stay tuned on that one. Perhaps a combined story with the previous topic you asked about.
 

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