Especially with the now-dwindling auto show tradition, we’ve had Cadillac and Rolls-Royce debuts happening close to each other on countless occasions in the past and nobody batted an eye. However, the situation is different with the Rolls-Royce Spectre and the Cadillac Celestiq that have both been unveiled in the past 24 hours. That’s because these generous-six-figure, super-luxury sedans are closer than anybody could’ve predicted a couple of years ago.
You may not be fully convinced of these two vehicles sharing customers. And while the overlap isn’t perfect, this is more than just the playfield-leveling effect of the EV era.
We’ll go into the background and tech details below, but allow us to kick things off by mentioning the somewhat similar financial league of these uber-modern, electric land yachts. Prices for the Celestiq will start upwards of $300,000, while the Spectre is set to kick off at around $400,000 (it’s positioned between the Cullinan SUV and the Phantom limousine).
Different backgrounds, a common goal
One might be tempted to state that with the Spectre being Rolls-Royce’s first EV, this is a more important turning point. Nevertheless, the Celestiq, which makes for Cadillac’s second electric car, is the halo model the American marque is using to rebuild its image.
You’d need to be a car buff to talk about the various highs and lows of the Rolls-Royce brand over time, especially since the marque’s image has arguably been on a steady, elevated level since it was taken over by BMW in 1998.
Then again, ask people about Cadillac and, be they car persons or not, you’ll probably get a consensus: the American luxury marque’s glow is a thing of the past, at least as far as brand perception is concerned. The exact decade when Cadillac, together with the American luxury scenery as a whole, got left behind, might vary from one person to another.
However, the phenomenon can arguably be traced back to the 1970s, when BMW and Mercedes (some will also include Audi here) proved that luxury cars and respectable handling can be put into the same sentence. Subsequently, Japanese automakers added reliability and extra value for money to the lavish package, making the problem more serious for American and German machines alike.
Nowadays, the sales fight takes place on the crossover and SUV battlefield and with China becoming the world’s largest auto market (new car registrations), Cadillac has managed to take full advantage of this.
Still, the GM brand needed to reinvent itself to keep the badge relevant in the future and the ongoing electric revolution presented the perfect opportunity for that. From this point of view, the two offerings we have here are very different propositions.
For one, the Celestiq promises the kind of hand-built flagship effort that should top anything Cadillac has offered to date. The Spectre, however, is introduced as the electric Rolls-Royce the company always wanted to build, but couldn’t due to the lack of serious charging infrastructure and proper battery technology.
So while the Cadillac Celestiq aims to impress with a chiseled, starship-like presence, an untrained eye could hardly tell the Spectre is a battery-powered Rolls-Royce, be it from the exterior or the interior.
Both the Cadillac Celestiq and the Rolls-Royce Spectre are scheduled to hit the market in Q4 2023, albeit with the former offering a clearer interval (December 2023).
None of the two big EVs makes concessions for the sake of range or performance, which are the usual metrics of the EV realm. However, their specs are quite close, as you’ll notice below.
Tech data for the Celestiq and the Spectre
The Cadillac Celestiq, a five-door liftback, rides on General Motors’ Ultium platform. Motivation comes from a pair of electric motors delivering an estimated total output of 600 hp (447 kW) and 640 lb-ft (868 Nm) of torque, which means the 0 to 60 mph sprint is covered in 3.8 seconds.
The 111 kWH battery delivers an estimated range of 300 miles (483 km), while this supports 200 kW DC fast charging (think: 78 miles/126 km of range in 10 minutes).
Nowadays, BMW has engineered a common platform for its EV and ICE (combustion)/hybrid models and things are the same way with Rolls-Royce. Thus, the Spectre fastback coupe shares the Architecture of Luxury platform with the Cullinan SUV, the Ghost luxury sedan, and the (even larger) Phantom lavish four-door.
Rolls-Royce’s preliminary numbers see the Spectre’s two electric motors offering a total output of 577 hp (430 kW) and 664 lb-ft (900 Nm) of torque. The capacity of the Spectre’s battery isn’t mentioned, but the estimated EPA range is up to 260 miles (418 km), while the 0 to 60 mph run is expected to take 4.4 seconds.
Both vehicles come with overly sophisticated suspension systems aimed at providing the best possible ride quality. RR offers the Planar system that can even decouple the anti-roll bars to allow each wheel to behave independently, while Cadillac has gifted the Celestiq with active stabilizer bars as a first, plus Magnetic Ride Control 4.0.
Four-wheel steering is standard on the Spectre and the Celestiq and if you guessed that both have the same wheel size, you were correct: 23 inches.
Highly customizable interiors with the best of materials
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You’d be hard-pressed to find an automotive segment when the interior matters most than in this case. Once again, the British carmaker offers its usual cabin arrangement, which follows the “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication principle”. However, while the Spectre has kept the transmission tunnel in place, it comes with a new infotainment system dubbed Spirit.
And, when you order the car, you can have custom graphics for the digital screens, instrument cluster included. However, we suspect BMW’s pay-for-features M.O. (via over-the-air updates) might allow future owners to adjust that to their preference.
In addition, the seat design offers further customization possibilities, while RR’s famous Starlight headliner is now joined by thousands of LEDs spread around the cabin (mostly on the doors).
The Celestiq, whose production version looks nearly the same as the concept, is a collection of high-end materials, but the devil is in the details. Buyers can choose between 115 3D-printed parts (e.g., grab handles, console trim, door switches), plus 300 parts produced via a flex metal fabrication process—so the company tells us that no two Celestiq cabins will be the same.
The dash is dominated by a 55-inch display that brings two screens under one pane of glass, with the passenger and the driver benefiting from a privacy feature that keeps the latter from being distracted by the former browsing the web, for instance.
Oh, and let’s not overlook the 11-inch angled screen on the center console, or the pair of 12.6-inch screens catering to the needs of the rear passengers. Speaking of which, those who sit in the back use an 8-inch display to adjust the temperature and seating position.
As its name implies, the Celestiq does allow occupants to enjoy a view of the sky, thanks to the four areas of the variable-opacity glass roof.
The building process
The Celestiq, which will be configured via concierge linking the customer to a designer, is set to be assembled at the General Motors Global Technical Center in Warren, where a dedicated team will handle no more than six units simultaneously.
The Spectre has a more complex birth process. The bodies are assembled in Germany and then get shipped to the U.K., where they meet the carmaker’s other models at the recently-upgraded, green Goodwood site.
Cadillac’s upmarket push naturally inspires positive feelings. As for Rolls-Royce, the company’s argument, namely that its quiet, fast, large sedans have always been fitted for electric power, is as sound as they get.
However, the carmakers are on a greater mission here, as both Cadillac and Rolls-Royce have committed to all-electric production by 2030. So it looks like the only additional aspect we need right now involves an expansion of the charging infrastructure.