Here at Oversteer, we’ve previously discussed how Cadillac should build a supercar — a car that, like the Audi R8, would raise Cadillac’s brand image and significantly enhance perception. Back then, we touched on the Cien, but I wanted to give it a full article that really explains just how cool this car was.
It was the early 2000s and Cadillac was just getting into its "edgy" design theme, which continues, more or less, to this day. The 2003 CTS was about to come out, and the STS and the XLR weren’t far behind — and, to help people understand that Cadillac was getting reinvented, there was the Cien.
The Cien was a midengine supercar that used a 7.5-liter V12 version of Cadillac’s Northstar engine. It touted an amazing 750 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, it used a 6-speed manual transmission and it boasted direct injection and displacement on demand — two features that would become common in GM’s lineup soon after. The car was revealed at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cadillac, as "cien" is Spanish for "100."
Unfortunately, the Cadillac Cien didn’t go any further than that. The car wasn’t green-lit for production, and Cadillac’s resurgence happened without a supercar — which, I still believe, would’ve been very helpful for raising brand awareness, especially back then. The car was featured in several video games and a few movies, and then it went away, never to be seen again, presumably placed in a GM-owned basement somewhere in Detroit.
Interestingly, the Cien’s designer, Simon Cox, was also responsible for the gorgeous Saturn Sky and the less-than-gorgeous Isuzu VehiCross — an interesting footnote to the story of the Cadillac supercar that never was.