Automorbit, Cars – Cadillac enjoyed two years of increasing sales pre-pandemic, but MotorTrend hasn’t exactly been singing the praises of its heart-of-market XT4, XT5, and XT6 crossover vehicles. The brand hopes to change our tune with the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq (like the song), by giving it dramatic proportions and a brand new face, plus Tesla-esque electric performance, range, and technology.
Technically, the “show car” you’re seeing here is a concept, but Cadillac assures us it’s 80-85 percent production-ready. With the 2023 model year two years away, you can expect the final production Lyriq to look very similar with only some small details changing significantly.
Ultium Electric Architecture
Cadillac claims that by the end of this decade, almost all of its cars will be electric. This initiative will be spearheaded by the Lyriq, which will follow the 2022 GMC Hummer EV to market by a matter of months on the same new Ultium dedicated EV architecture that will eventually underpin the hand-built flagship Celestiq and other Cadillac models.
The platform will feature rear-wheel or performance all-wheel drive, powered by an under-floor structural battery featuring relatively novel nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum chemistry that supports 150-kW DC Fast charging and 19-kW Level 2 home charging. The batteries boast aluminum-intensive cathodes, which reduce the amount of precious, rare-earth (and sometimes ethically problematic) cobalt required by more than 70 percent compared to current GM battery technology. Large, flat, pouch-style cells will be ganged in “smart modules” that incorporate the control electronics, reducing complexity and simplifying cooling. Cadillac claims battery pack wiring is thereby reduced by 90 percent.
How Far Will It Go?
So far, Cadillac is only claiming “more than 300 miles.” Officials add that whatever the big number is for the rear-drive model, expect to subtract 20-30 miles for the performance AWD version.
Novel Charging Option
It would be foolish to propose a new electric vehicle that was not capable of 150-kW DC Fast charging, so naturally the Lyriq is so equipped. But it’s also designed to accept Level 2 charging at rates up to 19 kW—about double the 7-11 kW that typical home chargers deliver today. Of course, wiring a charger capable of handling that much juice will require a circuit good for 80-100 amps, which might prove to be a stretch for most existing homes. New mansion and condo/apartment construction can probably incorporate it, however, and workplaces could upgrade their parking lot charger network if the technology proves popular with its executives.
How Will Lyriq Perform?
The Lyriq concept that we are seeing is about two years out from production, so Cadillac isn’t ready to share power and torque figures, weight estimates, or many other specific details. We do know that what we are seeing is 80-85 percent production intent, that its center of gravity is expected to be 100 mm (3.9 inches) lower than the XT5’s, and that its front/rear weight distribution will be very close to 50/50. This will surely help deliver the same impressive flat cornering and pitch-free acceleration and braking we love on most other battery-in-floor performance EVs. The standard rear-drive and performance AWD models will both deliver rear-biased accelerative traction and driving dynamics, no doubt assisted by fast-acting magnetic ride control shocks.
The new Escalade set a pretty high bar with its 38 combined inches of curved OLED screens, but that’ll be old news by fall 2022 when the Lyriq hits the road. So its headline-grabber is a single 33-inch (diagonal) curved LED screen boasting “the highest pixel density available in the automotive industry today” (no numbers were provided to fact-check that boast). It’s said to be capable of displaying over 1 billion colors—64 times more than any other automotive screen. The screen was designed to look like it’s floating on the dash and tailored to the Lyriq—not purchased off the shelf. Its position and curvature were determined by ergonomic reach curves, and the high, horizontal orientation prevents the driver from having to look as far down and away from the road as with some vertical screens. And there’s more cool display tech: The windshield features two different head-up technologies—one like we’re used to down low, plus an augmented reality display capable of projecting navigation direction arrows right onto the roadway or highlighting the location of a destination building for example.
Lincoln has made a lot of headlines with its midcentury modern interior design aesthetic, and Cadillac is tapping into that ethos in its own unique way, with spare ornamentation, lean horizontal graphics, and a cantilevered center console that doesn’t connect to the dash. The gap between the console and dash allows room for a drawer to slide open from beneath the climate-control buttons. Its blue-flocked interior is inspired by jewelry boxes. Another interior design innovation is wood veneer with a laser-cut pattern laid over bright aluminum that shows through, and the speaker grilles are backlit. Some interior components will likely be 3D-printed. The photos suggest this dash involves a lot of capacitive touch buttons, which we sincerely hope boast improved functionality relative to recent examples that struck a pretty sour note with us.
What better way to capitalize on the quiet cabin of an electric car than with a 19-speaker AKG Studio audio system rather like the standard system on the Escalade. But the crisp, clear, in-studio sound of the music recordings isn’t the system’s coolest feature. The Lyriq’s system will feature a new, more comprehensive active noise canceling system that involves additional microphones and even some accelerometers mounted to surfaces that generate or transmit road and tire-cavity noise. Together, this array of sensors allows the system to more accurately pinpoint and eliminate more sources of noise and vibration, further hushing the inherently quiet cabin of this electric vehicle.
50-Light Black Crystal “Grille”
EVs don’t typically need quite as much grille as their combustion-powered counterparts do, but we humans expect to see a “face” on our cars, and Lyriq is showing us the new face of Cadillac. It’s an expressive one. When you approach the car, multiple lighting elements comprising the Cadillac crest illuminate in an animated fashion, after which a sequence of 50 LED lighting elements around the bottom and sides of the grille light up, working from the bottom center outward and upward. It’s a dramatic effect. That grille is flanked by trademark vertical signature lighting elements. We’re guessing that this façade will account for much of the 15-20 percent of this concept that has to become less cool for production.
In back, the traditional vertical lamps are augmented by a pair of wrap-around boomerang elements that start out just under the rear glass and wrap up the C-pillars. We’re told they get in on the approach lighting drama, as well. Above the coupe-like rakish rear window is a flow-through spoiler that helps optimize aerodynamic efficiency on the highway.
Superior Cruise and Self-Parking
Like the forthcoming Escalade, the Lyriq will get the latest iteration of Cadillac’s Super Cruise, which now helps support automated lane changes. It will function on more than 200,000 miles of compatible highways and will require an active Super Cruise subscription, cell reception, and GPS signal. Yes, Super Cruise is actually a subscription service and has been since it was introduced, a fact Cadillac has kept very quiet and hidden in the fine print.
Supervised remote parking allows the Lyriq to park itself with the driver inside or outside but still near the vehicle. It works in parallel or perpendicular parking spaces.
Eliminating Pain Points
Cadillac understands that there are still customers for whom the switch to electric seems daunting and potentially problematic. To make Lyriq more attractive to these folks, in addition to the long range and quicker recharging options, Cadillac intends to offer novel “seamless, frictionless transactions” and a unique ownership experience. Few specifics were provided, except to note that the MyCadillac app will be especially ingratiating and solicitous, anticipating customer needs and use patterns and tailoring the car’s systems to meet expectations.
Should You Hold Off Buying That Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model Y, or Ford Mustang Mach-E?
You’d have to be mighty patient to postpone an electric crossover purchase for two years, especially when you can’t know exactly what it is you’re waiting for. But this preview of the Lyriq certainly entices with its spare, sleek design, cutting edge (at least in 2020) battery chemistry and autonomy features, and futuristic yet pleasingly retro interior. For the moment, we’re optimistic that when the Lyriq eventually hums into our hands, we’ll be eager to sing along.