The company’s smallest SUV yet is in the making

A few years ago, Cadillac finally admitted that it’s way behind its competitors in the premium market and hired Johan de Nysschen, who devised a new strategy for America’s iconic luxury brand. The new plans includes a host of new models, of which the range-topping CT6 sedan and the XT5 crossover have already been launched. Come 2017 and Cadillac is readying the XT3, an even smaller crossover that will compete against the BMW X1, Audi Q3, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

Spotted testing on public roads in February 2017, the XT3 is set to make its global debut in the first half of 2018. When that happens, it will slot beneath the XT5. It will also become Cadillac’s third SUV and complete the largest crossover lineup ever alongside the XT5 and the massive Escalade.

While the larger XT5 is a replacement for the dated SRX and aims at the midsize luxury crossover market, the XT3 is actually a brand-new entry. And it’s not surprising that Cadillac wants a piece of the compact market, as this is where a lot of car makers are making huge profits. Having missed out on sales for so many years, Caddy is finally trying to catch up. The question is, will the XT3 be good enough to give the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 a run for their money?

We will find out soon enough, but until then, let’s have a look at what we already know about the upcoming XT3.

Continue reading to learn more about the Cadillac XT3.

Exterior

2018 Cadillac XT3 - image 706063
2018 Cadillac XT3 - image 706070

Ever since Cadillac first introduced the "Art and Science" design language in the early 2000s with the original CTS, the carmaker’s styling has only evolved, and will apparently continue to do so in the upcoming years. That said, the XT3 SUV should feature quite a few design motifs also found on models like the CTS or, better yet, the recently launched XT5.

There isn’t much to tell from the heavily camouflaged test car, but it appears that the XT3 is a shrunken XT5 for the most part. Look for the same massive front grille flanked by pointy headlamps with LED strips that trickle into the bumper.

"There isn't much to tell from the heavily camouflaged test car, but it appears that the XT3 is a shrunken XT5 for the most part"

A wedge side profile look is also visible, with the model also featuring two ascending character lines and a three window design. At the rear, a pair of vertical LED taillights and a flattened rear window should complete the package based on the spy shots. A pair of side exhausts will probably be standard no matter the engine choice. Don’t expect a lot of ground clearance, as the XT3 is designed to spend most of its time in urban areas anyway.

2018 Cadillac XT3 - image 706066

"America’s luxury brand" will therefore try to pitch its smallest SUV to a younger audience by using the same design language as its bigger brothers, but in a much more compact shape. It’s pretty much what BMW and Mercedes-Benz did with the X1 and GLA, respectively, and by the looks of it, a safe path to success.

Interior

2017 Cadillac XT5 - image 654743

Note: Interior of the Cadillac XT5 pictured here.

As with most modern Cadillacs, the XT3 will likely make do with a V-shaped center console and either a well tucked-in screen as standard, or a larger one with touch capabilities. Speaking of which, the acclaimed CUE infotainment system will probably be optional, along with the larger screen.

"Interior volume will probably not be what one may expect from a Cadillac"

As the car will be based on the platform the recently released Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, interior volume will probably not be what one may expect from a Cadillac, especially since the model’s sportier nature will also bring a lower roof design. So don’t expect it to be a spacious as the XT5. Instead, look for the kind of legroom and headroom you usually get with the ATS, the company’s smallest sedan.

"Those willing to pay for options will get leather on the seats and part of the dashboard, woodgrain inserts, and aluminum trim"

However, it’s worth mentioning that the XT3 will probably be a bit larger than its competitors. The XT5 for instance, is bigger than the X3 and Q5, but competes in the same market as far as pricing goes. So, there’s a big chance customers will get more car for the price of an X1 or GLA.

As far as features go, the XT3 should come with a similar degree of luxury. Granted, the base model will probably get cloth seats as standard, but the overall trim should be pretty fancy before options. Those willing to pay more will get leather on the seats and part of the dashboard, woodgrain inserts, and aluminum trim.

Standard equipment should include a 4G hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone integration, and a wireless charging dock. Options will include a rear camera mirror system, heated and cooled seats, and maybe even a rear-seat entertainment system.

Drivetrain

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe - Driven - image 616146

Note: Drivetrain of the Cadillac ATS pictured here.

When the first rumors that Cadillac will make a competitor for the BMW X1 first surfaced, it was believed that it would become the only rear-wheel-drive offering in this niche. Unfortunately, the fact that it uses the D2XX platform means that it will also be front-wheel-drive, with AWD as on option on entry-level models and standard on the more expensive versions.

"Cadillac appears to be using a turbocharged engine, most likely the 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's already offered in the ATS"

There’s no specific word as to what engine will be used, but the test car appears to have an intercooler behind the front fascia. This means Cadillac is using a turbocharged engine, most likely the 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s already offered in the ATS. This is by no means surprising, as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus are all offering similar powerplants in their compact crossovers.

The unit in question cranks out 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque in the ATS and mates to either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. Output will probably be a tad lower in the XT3 and chances are Caddy will offer a nine-speed automatic gearbox with it.

Don’t get your hopes up for the XT5’s 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 310 horses and 270 pound-feet. None of the competing automakers offer a six-cylinder in their compact crossovers and it’s safe to assume that Cadillac won’t go down that route. Especially in a day and age when fuel economy is among the biggest concerns.

Prices

Pricing of the XT3 should be inline with the competition, so I expect it to fetch in the low-to-mid-$30,000 before options. For reference, the BMW X1 retails from $33,100, the Mercedes-Benz GLA starts from $32,850, while the Audi Q3 costs $31,800.

Competition

BMW X1

2016 BMW X1 - image 632496
2016 BMW X1 - image 632511

Essentially the crossover that started this premium niche, the X1 has been around since 2009 and it’s being produced in its second generation since 2015. Riding on the same platform as the 2 Series Active Tourer and Mini Countryman, the second-gen X1 received a lot of criticism for dropping the 3 Series-based RWD architecture in favor of the FWD platform. Along with the new underpinnings, the X1 also gained a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine to go with the usual 2.0-liter four-banger. The three-pot can be found in gasoline and diesel models too, but it’s not available in the U.S., where the 228-horsepower and 258-pound-feet four-cylinder gas unit is the only option. Pricing starts from $33,100 for the FWD model, while the AWD version retails from $35,100.

Find out more about the BMW X1 here.

Mercedes-Benz GLA

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA - image 700316
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA - image 700320

Introduced in 2014, the GLA is the youngest member of this premium niche. Based on the A-Class, it shares many of its styling features with the hatchback and it’s the sportiest looking model in its class. Like the Q3, it’s available with many engines in Europe, but just one in the U.S. Specifically, the GLA250 is powered by a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder with 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is paired to a standard seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. An all-wheel-drive 4Matic version is also offered. Unlike the X1, it also comes in performance-oriented form as the AMG GLA45. This model uses a beefed-up turbo-four rated at 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Mercedes-Benz is actually the only maker to offer a high-performance compact SUV here, as the RS Q3 is not available Stateside. Pricing starts from $32,850, while AWD adds another $2,000. The AMG version retails from $49,900.

Read more about the Mercedes-Benz GLA here.

Audi Q3

2017 - 2018 Audi Q3 - image 688436
2017 - 2018 Audi Q3 - image 688440

Based on the same platform as the old A3, the Q3 is Audi’s smallest crossover. The model comes standard with FWD, while a Quattro-named all-wheel-drive system based around a Haldex differential is optional in most countries. Updated in 2015, the six-year-old Q3 is available with many engines globally. In most markets, the gasoline range include 1.4- and 2.0-liter four-cylinder units, while a 2.5-liter five-cylinder is offered in the higher performance RS Q3. Output ranges from 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque to 367 horses and 343 pound-feet. A 2.0-liter TDI motivates all diesel versions, but output ranges from 120 horsepower and 214 pound-feet to 184 horses and 280 pound-feet. In the U.S., all trims have a 2.0-liter TFSI four-banger rated at 200 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel-drive is standard. Pricing starts from $31,800 and goes up to $39,200 for the range-topping model.

Learn more about the Audi Q3 here.

Conclusion

2018 Cadillac XT3 - image 614418

Back in Novembrr 2014, Cadillac went ahead and reserved a huge array of model names for its future lineup, with insiders also announcing that the car maker is preparing to launch a sub-ATS model lineup in the upcoming years. The XT3 will be part of that lineup, giving Caddy a competitor in one of the hottest segments in recent years – funky-looking compact crossovers. The rich interior and four-cylinder turbo engine will probably be its best features, as tech gadgets and solid fuel economy are main priorities in this niche. Paired with an improved version of the CUE infotainment system and the "Art and Science" design language, encompassed in a compact look, if the XT3 comes out right Cadillac may actually have a winner on its hands. Not to mention that it will probably sell like hotcakes in China.

  • Leave it
    • Could cheapen the brand for some
    • Likely to have a cramped interior

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