► Cadillac’s dramatic new Lyriq EV driven
► Luxury electric car has 312-mile range
► Launched in Switzerland, due in other Euro countries soon
Cadillac is reinventing itself from the ground up as, just like every other car maker under the sun, it’s faced with having to electrify to stay relevant. This here is the Lyriq, the brand’s first-ever electric car and the start of a revolution for the storied American luxury brand.
The design team knew just how much of a big deal this was and has gone all out; the Lyriq has to be one of the most dramatic-looking new cars released in years, and for all the right reasons. Classic Cadillac design cues have been merged into a brand-new design language as the brand grips electrification with both hands. We’ve driven it at GM’s Milford Proving Ground to see if there’s any substance to all the style.
Back up a step – why should I care about Cadillac’s new EV?
For two good reasons. First, it uses General Motors’ new Ultium battery-electric platform. You know the drill with EV platform banter by now, surely: there’s a battery pack under the floor that happens to be modular and scalable to fit all kinds of vehicle sizes, and the platform can have front-, rear- and all-wheel drive variants and even the possibility of adding more than one e-motor per axle. Much like VW Group’s and Stellantis’ approaches, GM sees Ultium as the answer to all its electrification dilemmas, allowing everything from small city cars right up to absolute whoppers like the new GMC Hummer EV to be spun off from one common component set.
With the Lyriq, the battery pack is 12 modules large (Ultium can go as low as six and as high as 24 modules) and has a single e-motor on the rear axle for 342bhp and 325lb ft. Cadillac promises an all-wheel drive ‘Performance’ variant in the future. In the US, the Lyriq can be charged at up to 190kW via a DC fast charger, with Cadillac claiming that means up to 76 miles added after 10 minutes of charge.
The other good reason is that the Lyriq is the first car General Motors is bringing to Europe as part of a renewed push into the market. GM Europe plans to launch only electric vehicles into the region from now on, with the Lyriq representing the premium end of its initial offering. The Lyriq has launched now in Switzerland, with ‘plans to expand to five additional markets in Europe over the next couple of years, with Sweden and France next.’
I’m guessing it’s not flimsy and basic inside…
Far from it. While Cadillac and GM are keen to stress just how technologically-advanced the Lyriq is, it’s on par with the best in Europe. There’s a single curved display that incorporates the driver’s instruments as well as the central infotainment screen much like BMW’s latest range of EVs like the iX and i4, and there are haptic-like buttons on the steering wheel (that actually work, unlike some others we’ve tried). It’s also dripping with toys, including GM’s ‘Super Cruise’ semi-autonomous driving assistance tech, a 19-speaker AKG stereo system with headrest speakers, active noise cancellation, hot and cold running seats and built-in Google functionality in the infotainment system.
Then there’s the interior design itself. The Lyriq’s cockpit is dripping with sophistication and extremely luxurious details – no gawdy chintz or hollow plastics that were stereotypes of American luxury cars not that long ago. There are laser-cut wood trim pieces with thin, backlit pieces of metal creating patterns in the doors, for example, and a cantilevered centre console like Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 that features huge storage bins and a click wheel for operating the infotainment system.
There is the odd quirk, however. You press what looks like a flush panel to open the motorised doors – similar to Ford’s Mustang Mach-E with its thumb button door opener – and you switch the view of the driver’s instruments via the left-hand fringe of the curved display. There’s also a single steering wheel paddle for adjusting regeneration, but we couldn’t figure out how it worked properly during our time with it.
So how does it drive, then?
Cadillac’s engineers have still prioritised refinement and comfort over performance, which makes a lot of sense; going electric certainly does Cadillac some favours beyond packaging and design. This thing is /quiet/. ‘Well duh, of course it is – it’s an EV,’ I hear you saying. Yes, but this is next-level hushed, even over rough and rutted tarmac that normally interrupts the silence with whopping thuds, which is likely due to the aforementioned active noise cancelling tech on board.
As for power, this 342bhp rear-wheel drive version is fast enough. It’s not blow-the-doors off quick (and Cadillac is coy about actually-rated performance figures) but feels swift enough to get out of its own, and indeed everyone else’s, way. Floor it and there’s a bassy whoosh noise accompanying the rising numbers on the speedo; keep it calm and you can almost drive the Lyriq with the throttle alone.
But a car to drive on its doorhandles, the Lyriq very much isn’t. By chasing maximum waft (and trying to negate the fact that the Lyriq weighs more than 2.5 tonnes), the suspension setup is super soft and introduces body roll rather eagerly if you enter corners too sharply. On the straight and narrow, however, bumps and ruts are remarkably well damped.
The steering, too, is set for low-effort, low-feedback engagements, making the Lyriq very much a highway cruiser and a suburb prowler, rather than a back road bruiser. No surprises there, then.
Cadillac Lyriq: verdict
As first electric cars go, Cadillac’s Lyriq is quite an impressive one. It’s got concept car looks, up-to-date technology on board and a powertrain underneath that suits its relaxed driving style down to a tee. There are some weird quirks to its design and practicality, and don’t come looking here for a car that’ll set your pulse racing, but it offers something different to the growing number of premium crossover EVs out there.
The fact it’s coming to Europe only adds to the Lyriq’s intrigue. It’s about as big as is considered socially acceptable for Europe’s tastes (and skinny roads… and its parking spaces…), and there’s a real attention to detail here that it’s an EV offering to take seriously.