This is the car that will spearhead a new attack on global markets for the renowned Cadillac brand.
The Lyriq electric SUV will be the basis for Cadillac’s return to Europe and other markets, possibly including Australia.
A midsize SUV similar in size to the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, the Lyriq looks beautiful in metal. It has a long hood, muscular thighs and bold details on the headlights, grille and taillights.
The door handles fold flush with the door panels – similar to the Tesla Model Y – and the cabin is dominated by a huge curved digital screen that houses the driver’s display and a central touchscreen.
Bright chrome accents elevate the cab, and there’s ample storage space thanks to the absence of a transmission tunnel running through the center of the vehicle.
Second-row passengers will find more leg and knee room than in a German luxury midsize SUV, while cargo space is decently sized.
On the road, however, the Lyriq is impressive.
The rear-mounted 250kW electric motor moves things quickly and silently, although there’s no hard standing start like the Tesla Model Y.
However, when you’re on the move, there’s an impressive surge at most speeds when you step on the gas pedal.
Our short test drive took place at GM’s huge Milford Proving Ground outside of Detroit, and we put the Lyriq to the test on a variety of surfaces that mimic public roads. This included big bumps and dips, simulated railroad crossings, and some tight, high-speed turns.
The Cadillac impressed with its composure, coping well with large bumps and cornering smoothly, even when faced with broken, corrugated bitumen.
Precise steering and solid traction add to the driving pleasure, although you can feel a significant weight shift when asked to change direction in a hurry.
Cadillac claims the Lyriq is good for 500km range, though this could drop once the more realistic WLTP range standard is applied.
In the US, the rear-wheel drive Lyriq starts at $62,990. A twin-engine version will launch early next year with roughly 370kW for just an additional $2,000.
GM hasn’t confirmed if the Lyriq will be available in right-hand drive, but it’s likely, as it seems like the most logical thing to do for a Cadillac resurgence in the European and international markets.
GM International President Shilpin Amin says that designing left-hand drive or right-hand drive cars is “much easier” on an electric vehicle platform.
“Because of how efficient it is to build it ahead of time with left-hand drive and right-hand drive markets in mind, you no longer need volume to justify it. In fact, you can do it quite effectively at any volume for markets around the world,” he says.
This is encouraging news for Australian Cadillac fans.
Christian Sommer, GM’s managing director of strategic markets, alliances and distributors, says the brand has “ambitious targets” in overseas markets, including Australia.
“We want to expand our international reach. Australia and New Zealand are the absolute backbone of this region. We are always looking for new opportunities,” he says.
Cadillac will lead GM’s transformation into a leading electric vehicle manufacturer by taking on Tesla.
After 2026, the company will not produce new cars with a gasoline engine, and by 2030 it will become only electric vehicles.
Cadillac interior design manager Tristan Murphy said the shift in focus to electric vehicles has given the design department an opportunity to reimagine the once-legendary brand.
“I think it was a good opportunity for us to take a step back and say OK as we move forward into the future, what do we want Cadillac to be like? It was a chance to reinvent it,” he says.
The design team was also mindful of their duty to respect the heritage of the badge.
“I don’t mean to say it’s retro by any means, but there are some hints of retro because there are some things in our history that we want to hold on to. There are these little winks and nods at our story because that’s something the electric car startup doesn’t have,” he says.
Originally published as Cadillac Lyriq: first impressions of the trip