Cadillac’s Torque-Based Naming Scheme Is Confusing Even For… Cadillac


Starting with the 2020 model year and the three-row XT6 crossover, Cadillac introduced a new engine badging scheme based on torque output expressed in Newton-Meters (nm) rounded to the nearest 50.

This might sound like a rather odd decision from the 118-year-old automaker that can’t even get customers to remember their current model names, but it isn’t. The logic behind it is sound: to help customers understand the level of power and performance from its different models, even with varying types of propulsion.

The controversial nomenclature

XT4 models wear a “350T” to let you know the engine produces 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque with the help of a turbocharger. Naturally aspirated models like the XT5 Sport have “400” stamped on the back to signify an output of 367 Nm (270 lb-ft) – which ignores Cadillac’s “nearest 50” rule. Upcoming models like the diesel-powered XT4 for Europe and electric Lyriq will see their torque figures affixed with “D” and “E” respectively, for diesel and electric.

The CT4 debacle

Last year, the CT4 took over from the ATS as Cadillac’s smallest sedan. At launch, the CT4 came with two turbocharged four-cylinder engines, a standard 2.0-liter making 237 hp (177 kW) and 258 lb-ft (349 Nm) of torque and an optional 2.7-liter producing 309 hp (230 kW) and 348 lb-ft (471 Nm) of torque.

The standard CT4 wears a “350T” badge, like every other Cadillac model equipped with the 2.0L LSY engine. Premium Luxury models equipped with the 2.7L L3B engine have “450T” stamped on the decklid. Well, they used to – until now.

Read Also: Driven: 2020 Cadillac CT4-V Takes The Fight To BMW M235i Gran Coupe and Mercedes-AMG A 35

For the 2021 model year, brand new CT4s have arrived at Cadillac dealers with a subtle change: the L3B equipped Premium Luxury models now show “500T” on the rear end. I recently spotted this on a fresh unit still wearing its bright red transport wheels, and wondered why the change? All official specifications now list torque output at 350 lb-ft (475 Nm). Was this enough to justify rounding up?

The 500T is the new 450T for Cadillac. Image credits: David Desilet

The old switcheroo

It would appear so, given that GM released a technical service bulletin (TSB) for the issue on November 23. The TSB claims that the 1,155 affected vehicles had the “incorrect badge” installed and is advising dealers to replace all 450T badges with the new 500T one. I seriously doubt this was a manufacturing mistake; every press car and even vehicles used in their official photos went out with the 450T badge, and nobody noticed it?

Image credits: David Desilet

A possible explanation is that they wanted the bigger number. Sales of the CT4 (and the larger CT5) have been disappointing, to say the least. To be more competitive and appealing, they need to play up the performance angle. The CT4, despite being closer to a compact sedan is dimensions, is marketed as the only RWD sedan in the subcompact luxury segment, and performance is probably its best attribute. The L3B equipped CT4 is quite the pocket rocket, as Cadillac says you need just 4.8 seconds to reach sixty miles per hour.

Do they even understand their own plan?

For the most part, it appears they aren’t too strict about following their own guidelines. Rounding up creates a more appealing number to the consumer. So slap a 400 on your V6 XT5 and call it a day – not that the average crossover buyer will notice. As for CT4 buyers, they will love showing off all the impressive new features in the office parking garage. Every car built for the young executive these days has some homologation of numbers attached to impress their colleagues. Greg from accounting may have a flashy new Audi A3 45 TFSI, but your new CT4 has a 500T badge on it.

You: 1 Greg: 0

However, if you have one of the 2.7-liter CT4s with a 450T badge, get that taken care of before Greg sees you out in public.

Updated: December 10, 2020 — 9:14 pm

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