2023 Cadillac Lyriq 450E Debut Edition

From the September 2022 issue of Car and driver.

Whoosh goes the Cadillac. And then it slides. Drive the all-electric Lyriq and you’ll be reminded of the quiet grace of Cadillac’s past. Electrification seems to be returning the 120-year-old brand to its smooth, quiet and comfortable roots. Reaching into the future — Cadillac promises a full EV lineup by 2030 — the luxury car maker is reintroducing some long-rejected features.

The Lyriq’s stance is in keeping with the virtues of its powertrain. An electric motor, like the permanent magnet spinner in the Lyriq (340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque), never does much more than hum. The 102.0 kWh battery pack in the floor, like sitting on top of a giant piece of Texas toast, suppresses almost all road noise. A shape that blocks the wind and increases range helps keep the howl of the air to a low whisper at highway speeds. The direct drive transmission provides uninterrupted thrust. Sail on, Lyriq of 5642 pounds.

Thankfully, suspension tuning doesn’t venture too far back in history. Ride quality remains on the comfort end of the ride spectrum, but it’s free of floatiness. The initial harshness of the impact is quickly forgotten as the multi-link front and rear suspension gently smooth out the ripples. The steering isn’t as light as the roulette wheels in the old Coupe DeVilles, but no one who wants a Blackwing will enjoy the Lyriq’s handling much. Competence trumped playfulness, and all-season rubber, size 265/50R-20, weighs just 0.80g on the skidpad. The battery keeps the center of gravity low and the weight distribution is 48.7 percent front and 51.3 percent rear, which might say the balance of a ‘sports sedan’, but the mass trumps the tires. The test team did report that with stability and traction control turned off, our rear-wheel drive Lyriq will make some great drifts on the skidpad, should you want to pretend to be employed here.

HIGH: Silence is golden, practical reach, a relative value.

If you’re inclined to keep driving like our testers, you’ll find that the rear-wheel-drive Lyriq’s 5.7-second time to 60 won’t make much of an impression on your memory or back. A time of under six seconds from 62 mph is no slouch, but in a world where the Genesis GV60 hits 60 in 3.7 seconds and similarly priced electric cars are reliably under five seconds, the Lyriq lacks the ferocious acceleration where we’re going to expect as a given in EVs. Perhaps to keep things calm, Cadillac only fuels full power at speeds north of 40 mph. A faster version with a second engine and 500 horsepower is on the way for those looking for more thrills. Stopping from 70 takes 60 yards; driving with one pedal is possible for those who like not having to use the brake pedal.

On the highway at a steady 120 mph, the Lyriq returns a range of 270 miles, which isn’t far off the EPA estimate of 312 miles. A 19.2 kW built-in charger can restore a dead battery in about six hours if you have a Level 2 connection that can deliver that much current. DC fast charging can gobble up to 190 kilowatts and add up to 315 kilometers of range in 30 minutes. As in the GMC Hummer EV, GM’s Ultium battery powers the machine. The 288-cell battery, which consists of pocket-type lithium-ion cells that each weigh about three pounds and contain just under 0.4 kilowatt-hours of energy, provides a usable capacity of 102.0 kWh.

LOWS: Not fast for an EV, long braking distances, competence instead of fun, no frunk.

The Lyriq rides on a long 121.8-inch wheelbase and the cabin is airy, though the giant glass roof might seem like a bad idea in summer or in sunny parts of the world. Up front, two white leather seats (ventilated and heated) offer easy adjustment and face a swept-back windshield. A large storage compartment between the footwells is the perfect place for a small bag, and a drawer that would have been an ashtray in the last century is leather-lined instead and ready for a phone or other items.

Aside from a few obvious plastic bits, interior materials look and feel rich. The laser-cut wood inlays on the doors are particularly attractive. A large, flowing 33-inch panel houses a configurable speed and power display behind the wheel, as well as an infotainment touchscreen to the right of the gauges. The HVAC controls have hard buttons, but the touchscreen hides some controls and settings. Before Cadillac updated its software to simplify the procedure, opening the glove compartment of our pre-production Lyriq required multiple screen taps, which could make pulling over even more annoying.

VERDICT: Cadillac’s future draws on its past.

If you think that’s a bad idea, wait until you open the doors from the outside. What appears to be a door handle is just a switch that breaks the door open. From there, it’s up to you to grab the tab at the bottom of the window to swing the door fully open – and the rear doors don’t even have a tab to grab. What used to be one step – pulling – is now two. Ah, the future.

Other missteps include the lack of under-hood storage. Cargo space behind the rear seats measures 28 cubic feet; folding the seat raises that to 61 cubic feet. But a purpose-built EV without any frunk seems like a miss to us. (Look under the plastic cover and you’ll find some wasted space.) All-wheel drive versions put a motor there.

At first glance, we thought the Lyriq’s price might be a mistake. Cadillac sells the full-featured rear-wheel-drive version for $62,990. That’s just $6,000 more than the much less luxurious but faster Hyundai Ioniq 5 in our EV league. Aggressive pricing may explain why Cadillac sold out Lyriq production for 2023. The Lyriq will never be mistaken for a Blackwing, but its refinement matches the cars that have made Cadillac famous.

counterpoints

The Lyriq reminds me of my grandfather’s old Seville from 1984 – hushed, smooth, not fast. West Palm Beach with wheels. Click on Super Cruise and start making miles. Spin some hunting rock on the 19-speaker AKG sound system. Relax. We’ve become so obsessed with Blackwings, we’ve forgotten that Cadillac once knew how to build the best ships in the business. The Lyriq tells you that sometimes it’s okay to sit back and smell the leather. Can I get a landau pack for this baby? —Ezra Dyer

The Lyriq is a solid all-round EV with one compelling force: value. It offers more for less. The interior is stylish. The single-engine test vehicle we drove was larger, roomier, and finished with nicer interior materials than most competitors of a similar price. It’s very handsome – rich even. The single engine version isn’t a rocket, but it’s fast enough for most drivers and has decent range. This is a lot of EV for the money, with an emphasis on a lot. — Rich Ceppos


It’s not all electronic

The Lyriq uses a new series of shocks with a mechanical innovation.

The inherent behavior of a hydraulic shock absorber is the exact opposite of what vehicle dynamics require. That’s because shock absorbers produce a damping force related to the speed at which they are compressed or extended. Unfortunately, strong damping is needed during maneuvers that occur with slow suspension movements, while low damping is desirable when a tire hits a pothole, causing the suspension to move much faster.

it's not all electronic

Blue: low frequency oil flow. Red: high frequency oil flow.

Illustration by Pete Sucheski|Car and driver

For about 100 years, shock absorber designers have been juggling compression and rebound damping ratios and developing complex shock valves to solve this fundamental problem. The new Lyriq puts a new spin on this ancient battle.

Known as Passive-Plus Premium Dampers, they resemble conventional twin-tube dampers. A valve assembly on the piston at the base of the shock rod provides low-speed rebound and high-speed compression damping. The foot valve, which regulates the flow between the inner and outer tubes, provides low-speed compression damping. The fluid is pressurized to 50 psi to minimize cavitation.

The twist is an additional valve mounted just below the piston. The valve does not seal against the shock absorber tube, but rather allows fluid to flow through a passageway in the shock rod, bypassing the main piston valve. This valve takes over during high-frequency spring movements and provides lighter damping and therefore a softer ride during bumps. During low-frequency movements, the main piston valve operates with heavier damping, providing better body control and sharper steering response.

And this process does not require electrons. —Csaba Csere

Specifications

Specifications

2023 Cadillac Lyriq 450E Debut Edition
Vehicle type: mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon

PRICE
Base/as tested: $62,990/$62,990
Options: none

DRIVELINE
Motor: synchronous alternating current with permanent magnet
Power: 340 hp
Torque: 325 lb-ft
Battery pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 102.0 kWh
Built-in charger: 19.2 kW
Transmission: direct drive

CHASSIS
Suspension, front/rear: multilink/multilink
Brakes, F: 12.6 inch ventilated disc; R: 13.6 inch vented disc
Tyres: Michelin Primacy All Season
265/50R-20 107H M+S TPC

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 121.8 inches
Length: 196.7 inches
Width: 77.8 inches
Height: 63.9 inches
Passenger volume: 107 ft3
Cargo volume: 28 ft3
Empty weight: 5642 lb

CD TEST RESULTS
100 km/h: 5.7 sec
1/4 mile: 14.3 sec @ 99 mph
100 mph: 14.7 sec
210 km/h: 18.3 sec

The above results omit a 1 foot rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 6.1 sec
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 2.3 sec
Top gear, 50-70 mph: 3.2 sec
Top speed (gov ltd): 118 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 191 ft
Braking, 100-0 mph: 387 ft
Handling, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.80 g

CD FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 72 MPGe
75 mph highway range: 270 miles

EPA FUEL CONSUMPTION
Combined/City/Highway: 89/97/82 MPGe

CD TESTING EXPLAINED


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