In a bid to boost its luxury image in Europe, Cadillac last week gave the crowd at the Geneva auto show a second peek at its future lineup.
The Cadillac Imaj concept sedan re-emphasizes the 'art and science' styling Cadillac unveiled in Detroit a year ago with the radical Evoq concept roadster. All future Cadillac vehicles will take their styling cues from the Evoq.
But more important, the Imaj was tailor-made for Europe at General Motors' design studio in England. Thus, it points to future Cadillacs with a distinctly European flavor. Three Evoq-styled production vehicles begin reaching the U.S. and European markets in 2002: the next-generation Catera and Seville, and a new car-based sport-utility called the LAV, or Luxury Activity Vehicle.
The three vehicles will be based on GM's upcoming Sigma rear-wheel-drive platform and will be built at a new assembly plant under construction in Lansing, Mich.
DESIGNED IN EUROPE
Cadillac has failed to win many European customers with the current Seville, a front-wheel-drive sedan that is clearly out of place in Europe's rear-wheel-drive luxury market.
The Imaj is not based on the Sigma platform. But its size and technology hint at the next Seville and the larger Cadillac DeVille, said Simon Cox, concept vehicle design director for GM's studio in Birmingham, England. Cox, who headed the Imaj project, said the concept car was designed to compete against the Mercedes S class and the Audi A8.
'We packaged the vehicle from the ground up,' Cox said. 'It was aimed to be more competitive in terms of size, to be more global if you like, not just European.'
The Imaj is powered by an updated version of the Northstar V-8 engine that debuted on the Evoq last year. The 425-hp engine is linked to a new five-speed automatic transmission.
NOT A CHRISTMAS TREE
Other features include Cadillac's Night Vision infrared system, cameras instead of rear-view mirrors, an aluminum space frame and GM's next-generation StabiliTrak chassis-control system. On the inside, each occupant has an individual entertainment and communications system featuring phone, e-mail, navigation and DVD capabilities.
'There's a lot of content, but we didn't want to light it up like a Christmas tree,' Cox said. 'There's a real design and function rationale in the way it is designed and the way it is packaged.'
Cadillac enlisted Italian jeweler Bvlgari to design the Imaj's instrumentation and a set of accompanying luggage.
Although the basic look of the Imaj is derived from the Evoq, the Imaj is rounder with a much higher and more compact back end. Said Cox: 'I wanted to give the exterior a more compact look but still give the interior a more spacious feel.'