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car review

The new Cadillac Lyriq SUV.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

As many auto manufactures have struggled during the past few years between the pandemic and a chip shortage, Cadillac is seeing success.

“Cadillac in Canada has been on a roll for the last few years. 2020 was the best year in our history from a sales perspective, said Shane Peever, managing director of Cadillac Canada during the recent test-drive event for the all-electric Lyriq compact SUV in Park City, Utah. “And then we did it again in 2021″ for back-to-back sales records.

In 2020, Cadillac sold 12,066 vehicles in Canada; in 2021, that rose to 12,743. And momentum appears to be building thanks to its first all-electric vehicle. In fact, if you want a 2023 Lyriq, you’re out of luck – it’s already sold out. More than 3,300 have been preordered in Canada, with production to begin in August. Cadillac is now accepting orders for the 2024 models with dual electric motors, 500 horsepower and all-wheel-drive. No other pricing or feature details are available.

Our test vehicle was a rear-wheel-drive Lyriq with a 12-module, 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack and a one-motor system that produces 340 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, and has an estimated range of 502 kilometres. It rides on GM’s new Ultium battery architecture – it’s the same battery technology used in the GMC Hummer EV and all GM EVs moving forward. It’s less expensive, more powerful and uses less cobalt than the batteries found in the Chevrolet Bolt.

The Lyriq rides on GM’s new Ultium battery architecture – the same battery technology used in the GMC Hummer EV and all GM EVs moving forward.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

With 457 kilometres of range to start, I travelled along highways, twisty mountain roads and through quaint little villages. The Lyriq felt smooth, composed and responsive. In sharp corners, it was surprisingly well-balanced. The default setting for the one-pedal felt overly sensitive and somewhat jarring, slowing down the vehicle abruptly and making my driving partner nauseous. Thankfully, you could turn off the system easily using an icon on the massive 33-inch curved LED display. Cadillac’s so-called “Regen on Demand” system, accessed via a paddle shifter on the left side of the steering wheel, also improves efficiency by allowing the driver to adjust the regenerative braking level and control how quickly the vehicle slows down or comes to a complete stop. The pressure-sensitive paddle was a bit finicky at first, but once you got the hang of it, it created a more engaging drive and added an extra eight kilometres of range.

After several hours and nearly 120 kilometres, the range dropped 145 kilometres – not bad considering we blasted the air conditioning in the blazing 27-degree heat, turned on the ventilated front seats, pumped up the tunes on the AKG 19-speaker audio system, and drove it like a gas-powered vehicle.

When stopped, the Lyriq garnered attention and compliments constantly from pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. No surprise – it looks sharp. Designers faced challenges creating a new, memorable brand identity for Cadillac now that it has no engine. “For so long, the car’s design and face were defined by that big grille and the patterns and shapes that went into it. Now, everybody is rethinking, how do you have a clean brand identity that still feels unique in the marketplace,” said Tristan Murphy, interior design manager of the Cadillac Lyriq.

For Murphy, the solution was simple – it was in the lighting. “What really separates the Lyriq [from the competition] is the whole light-up animation. We took lighting to a whole other level where it’s not just about lighting the road and being functional, but being part of a beautiful walk-up sequence,” said Murphy. It’s stunning to witness – walk up to the vehicle with key fob in hand and the front lights come to life, starting with Cadillac’s trademark centre crest and working outward to the slim, vertical LED headlamps before ending with the rear taillights. The lighting theme also extends inside with 26 customizable colour choices to alter the mood in the cabin.

Removing the engine eliminated other constraints for designers, too. With no transmission tunnel, for example, it opened up the floor plan and allowed for smart storage solutions including a spot to store your purse, within arm’s reach. The bin is lined elegantly in juniper blue; the pattern is repeated above in a jewelrylike drawer perfect for hiding smaller items like cellphones or wallets. Intricate laser-etched patterns on the dark-ash wood highlight the craftsmanship and attention to detail in the cabin.

Removing the engine opened up the floor plan and allowed for smart storage solutions, including a spot to store your purse within arm’s reach and a jewelrylike drawer perfect for hiding smaller items like cellphones or wallets.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The Lyriq will be built at GM’s Spring Hill manufacturing facility in Tennessee and delivery for Canadian customers is expected later this summer.

Tech specs

2023 Cadillac Lyriq

  • Base price: $69,898 (including Destination and Freight Charges)
  • Motors: one motor (2023); dual electric motors (to come for 2024)
  • Battery Pack: 100.4 kilowatt hours (rear-wheel drive); not announced (all-wheel drive)
  • Charging capability: Level 2 (240-volt) 6-10 hours; DC fast-charger, 122 kilometres in 10 minutes
  • Horsepower/torque (lb-ft): 340/324 (rear-wheel drive); 500/not announced (all-wheel drive)
  • Claimed Range: 502 km (rear-wheel drive); not announced (all-wheel drive)
  • Alternatives: Tesla Model Y, Audi Q4 e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace, Genesis GV60

Looks

Even though the Lyriq is electric, it still looks like a Cadillac. The new face is dramatic and bold with striking lighting details at the front and rear. I’m not a fan of the flush door handles, which make opening the door a two-step process – push the electronic button on the handle and grab the shark fin accent a few inches above.

Even though the Lyriq is electric, it still looks like a Cadillac.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Interior

In true Cadillac fashion, the cabin is upscale with a massive curved 33-inch LED display to access many items from the audio and navigation systems to the glove box compartment and ambient lighting choices. Many functions can also be controlled using a rotary dial on the centre control, but I prefer using the touch screen or better yet, Google’s personal assistant – it’s fast and works well.

The cabin is upscale with a massive curved 33-inch LED display to access many items from the audio and navigation systems to the glove box compartment and ambient lighting choices.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Performance

The Lyriq is more engaging to drive than many competitors. Climbing up mountains was effortless and along sweeping roads it was sure footed. The ride was also whisper quiet with little road or wind noise in the cabin. The 2024 all-wheel-drive model is expected to tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Technology

The Lyriq is loaded-to-the-nines with safety technology and driving aids such as adaptive cruise control, advanced parking assist and Super Cruise, GM’s semi-autonomous hands-free driver assistance system. It also has Google with Google Maps and a personal voice assistant, wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto, a built-in WiFi hot spot, and over-the-air software update capabilities.

Cargo

Many competitors have front trunks, but the Lyriq doesn’t. No biggie – the rear cargo is large with 793 litres of space. The rear seats fold down with the touch of two buttons in the cargo area. Drop the seats and the cargo expands to 1,723 litres.

With the rear seats folded down in the Cadillac Lyriq, there is 1,723 litres of space.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The Verdict

Cadillac is making a comeback and the Lyriq will certainly help thanks to innovative design cues, long driving range and posh, tech-friendly interior.

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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