• The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette is Cool and All, but What About the 2002 Cadillac Cien (Could it See Modern Production?)

If you think about it, this is the best time for Cadillac to move ahead with this as all the stars seem aligned and nothing could go wrong for it

Chevy has rocked the world with the 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette Stingray. There were a lot of expectations from this mid-engine layout that was first teased almost 60 years back and brought back to life several times over the years. Nevertheless, Chevy managed to hit a bull’s eye with this product that made its debut on the July 18. The C8 Stingray also brings in a lot of ‘firsts’ for Corvette that could make way for bigger things moving forward. But, let’s focus on another GM mid-engined concept from the past called the Cadillac Cien that garnered a lot of attention, but never made it to production. Given Cadillac’s reputation and stature, this clearly felt like an ‘out of the comfort zone’ kind of a product from the stable, but it sure was a competent concept. The automaker never intended to take it to production, but seeing the Corvette C8’s success, could Cadillac be tempted to give it a shot?

What Was the 2002 Cadillac Cien

2002 Cadillac Cien
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The Cadillac Cien debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in 2002. It was launched to commemorate the brand’s 100th anniversary. In fact, ‘Cien’ is Spanish for ‘100’. Cadillac is not known to produce such monstrous vehicles. It is still the fastest car the marque has ever produced. The concept was designed by Isuzu Vehicross-fame designer, Simon Cox, in England. Despite being the first-of-its-kind from Cadillac, the automaker did not shy away from breaking shackles and giving it a very angular, sharp design overall. The two-seater, mid-engined concept vehicle was offered with specs that can make your jaws drop even today; imagine the kind of impact it would’ve made in 2002.

For starters, the Cadillac Cien came with a beast of an engine – a 7.5-liter, V-12 engine that churned out 750 ponies and 450 pound-feet of twist.

The new engine was moniker’d as the Northstar XV12 and met the packaging requirements and fuel economy standards of a V-8 mill back then.

This mid-engined layout sent power to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox. The engine would run on just six cylinders when it didn’t need all twelve to work in tandem. It also had a direct injection gasoline combustion system and a combined starter generator to help save fuel to a great extent, thus meeting the standards of a V-8 engine. The high-performance vehicle could touch a sprint to 60 mph from a standstill in 3.5 seconds flat! 17 years later, the Cadillac Cien is still one of the fastest vehicles to ever don a Cadillac badge.

2002 Cadillac Cien specifications
Engine 7.5-liter, V-8 mill
Power 750 horses
Torque 450 pound-feet
0-60 mph 3.5 seconds
Top Speed 217 mph

2020 Chevy C8 Corvette vs. 2002 Cadillac Cien

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The Cadillac Cien may not have seen the light of the day in the real world, but it sure did in the movie world. Michael Bay seemed to have an affinity towards the Cien, as he featured it in two of his movies – The Island (2005) and Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). The Cadillac Cien was also seen in video games like the Gran Turismo, Asphalt, and Midnight Club. Although the concept was never meant to hit the production line, could Cadillac change its mind? After all, GM now has a mid-engined platform, engine, transmission, and — perhaps — the interest of younger consumers.

The Corvette C8 needs no introduction anymore.

Launching a mid-engined car was a big gamble for Corvette, and even GM as a group for that matter, because this is the area where it has not tested the waters extensively in modern vehicles.

The result, however, paid off; that’s how it seems until now, at least. The mid-engined layout Corvette, however, was conceptualized back in 1964 when Zora Arkus Duntov built the XP-819. A lot of prototypes followed after, but none of them were officially produced. But, after over 50 years of work put into creating a mid-engined Corvette, the company launched it, and it is the most brutal offering in the company’s history.

The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette is Cool and All, but What About the 2002 Cadillac Cien (Could it See Modern Production?)
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The 2020 Corvette C8 Stingray is offered with the same 6.2-liter, V-8 engine that was seen under the hood of the C7 Stingray as well. However, it comes with a few design changes and better specs; hence, it is dubbed as the LT2, unlike LT1 from the C7.

In the 2020 Corvette C8 Stingray, this engine churns out 495 horses and 470 pound-feet of torque with a performance exhaust.

This is up by 40 horsepower and ten pound-feet of torque over the LT1 mill. The Cadillac Cien, on the other hand, produces 255 horses more, but 20 pound-feet of torque less. Despite the big paper figures like 750 horses, V-12 engine, etc., the Cien is slower than the C8. The exact 0-60 mph figure for the C8 is not known yet, but the automaker has said it will be under three seconds. The Cien makes the same sprint in 3.5 seconds.

Power is sent to the rear wheels via an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. A manual transmission is not being offered, and that totally sucks, but to give you more control over the transmission and the car itself, Corvette has given an option wherein if you hold both the paddle shifters simultaneously, it disconnects the clutch. This will not fill the void of a manual gearbox, but it reduces it to an extent. The V-12 mill in the Cien also sends power to the rear wheels, but through a six-speed automatic transmission. This is one of the biggest reasons for the Cien being slower than the 2020 Corvette C8. The Corvette C8 Stingray comes with six drive modes in total, two new ‘MyMode’ and ‘Z Mode,’ apart from the standard four – Weather, Tour, Sport, and Track.

The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette is Cool and All, but What About the 2002 Cadillac Cien (Could it See Modern Production?) Exterior
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Chevy offers a Z51 Performance package as optional in the 2020 Corvette C8 Stingray. The package adds a Performance suspension with manually adjustable threaded spring seats, larger brake rotors with Z51 logo on calipers, enhanced cooling to the engine, a specific axle ratio to bring out the maximum in terms of driving dynamics, and a performance exhaust. It can zoom from a standstill to 60 mph in under three seconds! This is almost as good as the most-powerful factory Corvette - the C7 ZR1. The ZR1 had 755 horses working to reach this mark, whereas the C8 Stingray uses around 260 horses less to reach the same mark. Corvette has also added a front suspension that can be lifted approximately 40mm off the ground in 2.8 seconds. This can be operated at speeds up to 24 mph, and can also be programmed to work automatically through GPS to remember up to 1,000 locations.

The other engine specs are not out yet, but the 2020 C8 Corvette could feature new twin-turbocharged Double Overhead Cam engines ranging from 4.2-liter to 5.5-liter in size.

However, the most anticipated of the lot is an all-wheel-drive hybrid drivetrain, that is still mythical. If Corvette decided to go berserk, this mill could have up to a 1,000 ponies!

Now that GM Has the C8 Corvette’s Platform, Could the Cien Go Into Production

The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette is Cool and All, but What About the 2002 Cadillac Cien (Could it See Modern Production?)
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At a time when technology changes every year, the Cadillac Cien feels like an age-old model. However, it has the potential to be brought back to life, especially now that GM has a new platform that underpins the 2020 Corvette C8. The platform could be tweaked a little to underpin the Cadillac Cien. When Cadillac launched this concept in 2002, it became the talk of the town, and it looked like it would pave the way for greater things for the brand. However, Cadillac couldn’t capitalize on the hype and succumbed to be known as an automaker that can only build passenger cars and SUVs. But with the help of the mid-engined Corvette C8, Cadillac could revive the Cien and rebrand itself as a company that can build supercars.

GM would be more than happy to tag along the Cadillac Cien on the C8’s success-parade. If the company acts on this soon, enthusiasts will look forward to the new Cien. Even in 2019, the 2002 Cien looks like a strong product, so what’s to say that the new, improved Cien couldn’t be a hit? As for the engine specs, we don’t expect it to feature the same Northstar V-12 engine, obviously, but it won’t borrow the C8 Stingray’s engine as well. Cadillac already has a mill in its arsenal that seems tailor-made for the Cien – the Blackwing V-8. The Blackwing mill will soon make its debut in the Cadillac CT6-V sedan, and it looks promising.

The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette is Cool and All, but What About the 2002 Cadillac Cien (Could it See Modern Production?)
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It is a 4.2-liter, twin-turbo V-8 mill that is tuned in two different power states – one produces 500 ponies and 553 pound-feet of torque, while the other makes 550 horses and 627 pound-feet of torque in its. This engine features twin-scroll turbochargers, electronic wastegate control, Twin water-to-air charge coolers, Dual-independent camshaft phasing, and Cylinder Deactivation Variable-pressure oiling system. In its current form, this engine sends power to all the wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. If this engine makes it to the yet-hypothetical new Cien, it will feature in the stronger state of tune.

Final Thoughts

The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette is Cool and All, but What About the 2002 Cadillac Cien (Could it See Modern Production?) Exterior High Resolution
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This is the best time for Cadillac to make a name for itself. It has the history, the C8’s platform and momentum to ride on, and the engine, to make the Cien a success. Will Cadillac act upon this, or will sit nice and cozy in its comfort zone? Hope this ‘May’ knock some sense into the CEO and push Cadillac as a formidable brand across different segments. Do you think the Cadillac Cien should be revived? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Further reading

The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette is Cool and All, but What About the 2002 Cadillac Cien (Could it See Modern Production?) Exterior
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Wait, the All-New 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 is Priced How Much?!

The 9 Mid-Engine Corvette Concepts That Didn't Make it To Production
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Read all about the mid-engined Corvette concepts that never made it to production!

2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette ZR1 Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our speculative review of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Exterior
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Read our full review of the 2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1

The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette is Cool and All, but What About the 2002 Cadillac Cien (Could it See Modern Production?)
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Read our full review on the 2002 Cadillac Cien.

Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Senior Editor, Truck Expert, EV Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. Fast forward to today, and he is currently serving as a senior editor, pickup truck expert, and EV expert.  Read full bio
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