Every new Cadillac introduced from now on will be an EV as the brand strays from combustion power, and the 2023 Lyriq crossover SUV is a preview of the company’s plan to roll out a variety of upcoming cars. using General Motors’ Ultium electric drive technology. .
As Cadillac’s first Ultium-based model, the Lyriq provides a guide to what to expect from the brand in the coming years as it seeks to reclaim its place in the pantheon of respected premium automakers. The key to achieving that lofty position is keeping the promises made by designers of the concept models that plot the features of a coming vehicle.
Historically, this has been a fraught proposition as engineers, designers and accountants struggle over what is possible, what is practical, what is desirable and what is affordable. For Lyriq, Chief Engineer Jamie Brewer coordinated with interior design manager Tristan Murphy to ensure the engineering team found ways to deliver the style the designers had envisioned.
Collaboration between the engineering and design teams has been the hallmark of the Lyriq program, Brewer told Design News in an exclusive interview. Meanwhile, engineers used $200 million in GM’s computer time to model all of the Lyriq’s features, she said. “By the time we built our first prototype vehicle, we were 80 percent on the road and ready to tune right away.”
One application of the computer aided design (CAE) is the airflow to the rear window, which is tuned to keep the window clean without the need for a rear wiper. The Lyriq’s construction has been carefully modeled to optimize the welding of its unibody dies for ideal strength. “We were able to use CAE to very quickly repeat different weld types and different materials to optimize the structure,” Brewer noted.
To summarize Lyriq’s previously announced specs, consider that this version of the Ultium battery pack: 12 modules with lithium ion NCMA cathode, mixed graphite anode cells store 102 kilowatt hours of power. The tested $62,155 Debut Edition Lyriq is rear-wheel drive with 340 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft of torque and a range of 512 miles on a full charge.
By the end of the year, Cadillac will deliver four-wheel drive Lyriqs equipped with a front electric motor that will boost the vehicle’s total power to 500 horsepower. The final torque specifications are still being settled.
Owners can charge the Lyriq at DC fast charging stations with a whopping 190 kilowatts, which Cadillac says will add about 75 miles of range in 10 minutes. Cadillac is offering buyers a 240-volt AC home charging station that will maximize Lyriq’s built-in 19.2 kW charging module, which can add a whopping 52 miles of range per hour of charging, the company says.
The good news is that all of these parts deliver on the stylish promise of the whole, making a $60K electric Cadillac look like real value in terms of range, features and amenities.
The Lyriq’s ride and handling benefit from the advanced five-pivot rear suspension and frequency-dependent shock absorbers. The debut edition Lyriq is remarkably light on features as the company was in a rush to deliver cars to customers as soon as possible, so the company hinted that future versions could add more content, such as the absent head-up display system and possibly the Magneride magneto-resistive shock absorbers that have been a signature technology of Cadillac since the company introduced them in the 1990s.
The resulting ride is smooth and pleasant, and the handling exceeds that of the disappointing BMW iX. Still, drivers won’t see the Lyriq Debut Edition as a driver’s machine. That’s fine, because comfort and refinement are better standards for a car like this. The sluggish steering is only a disappointment when riding hairpin bends, and cutting mountain roads probably isn’t a big use case for the Lyriq buyers.
Regenerative braking is a huge part of the EV driving experience, and this is where Cadillac has given Lyriq drivers the best possible solution. The car’s single-stage drive function, which slows the car to a stop when the driver releases the accelerator, can be set to low regeneration for a less intrusive experience, high for those who prefer that mode, and off for drivers who want it to feel like a combustion engine vehicle.
And in each mode, the Lyriq’s wheel-mounted paddle is available to provide proportional deceleration based on how much the driver squeezes, so even with one-pedal drive disengaged, drivers can still stop the car without the brake pedal to touch if they wish. Low mode delivers 0.23g of deceleration, high mode delivers 0.30g and squeezing the brake paddle hard decelerates the Lyriq with 0.35g of force.
This kind of thoughtful application of technology makes the Lyriq an impressive start for Cadillac’s future existence as an electric-only brand, once all combustion models have been replaced. We look forward to the upcoming versions of the Lyriq, as Cadillac can add technology that apparently wasn’t quite ready for customer delivery this summer.