Home / Auto News / News article: LA 2010: Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept (ULC) Explores the Premium SubCompact Segment [Video] - AutoGuide.com News
 |  Nov 17 2010, 1:56 AM

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We’ve gotten used to seeing less than conventional designs come out of Cadillac over the past few years, but the new Urban Luxury Concept (ULC) is taking things a bit too far. The concept behind this show piece is advanced urban commuting and the ULC executes this perfectly with a small package that is high on luxury – even including a Rolls-Royce-esque umbrella in the doors. The powertrain is also perfectly designed, using a turbocharged 1.0L 3-cylinder engine mated to a mild hybrid setup to deliver 56-mpg city and 65-mpg highway.

Outside, the overall shape (intended to mimic city cars from Asian and Europe) is certainly less than attractive, although the interior is really the important show-piece of this car. And here the designers and engineers worked together to create an environment filled with seamless technology.

For starters, the driver can access two touch-pads just behind the steering wheel in order to scroll though display screens. As for the front seat passenger, they get an iPad-like screen to operate vehicle functions and can even surf the net, select a destination and then drag that info over to the driver’s side of the info display, where the driver can then choose to accept the new navigation instructions.

The car’s Interior Design Manager Gael Buzyn explained to us the touch-sensitive nature of the interior controls, with small movements able to bring you from one folder to the next, while more brisk movements will allow you to zip though numerous folders at a time. The touch-sensitive nature also works for the four individual climate control screens. By sliding one finger its possible to adjust the temperature, while using two fingers will adjust both temperature and fan speed.

Much of the interior is ultra-modern and isn’t likely to be seen in any Cadillac, but the impressive dash screen, watch-styled speedometer and even the blue stitching could arrive in the not-to-distant future.

“While small in size, this concept is an exploration of what Cadillac could be in the future, as the brand continues to focus on redefining industry standards for advanced vehicle design and integrated technology,” said Don Butler, vice president for Cadillac marketing.

That being said, Cadillac is certainly testing the waters to see about bringing the brand into the sub-compact segment – especially as it plans to launch the Verano compact luxury car in the coming year. There’s definitely room in this space for Cadillac and a move like this could certainly help the brand overseas, although it’s hard to see anyone falling in love with the ULC’s design.

GALLERY: Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept

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GALLERY: Cadillac ULC Official Pics

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Official release and video after the jump:

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Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept: A Study Of Efficient And Intelligent Design For A New Luxury Customer

LOS ANGELES – Cadillac today introduced the Urban Luxury Concept, a design study exploring a new type of vehicle that offers a luxury experience in a diminutive size. The Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept complements its compact dimensions with the design, features and technology for which Cadillac is known.

“The Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept celebrates its scale with intelligent, innovative content that makes it unique regardless of its size,” said Clay Dean, Director of GM North American Advanced Design and Cadillac Brand Champion. “It has a small exterior footprint, but is roomy inside.”

Conceived and designed in the Los Angeles area, where tight, confined parking areas for apartments, office buildings and even suburban homes are part of everyday driving, the concept weaves Cadillac’s iconic design elements into a form that eschews conventional vehicle design to answer the needs of those metropolitan motorists.

Comparable in size to popular city cars found in Paris, Shanghai and London, the Urban Luxury Concept demonstrates a departure from conventional vehicle design. It seats four, with easy access to all seats available via a pair of scissor-type doors that extend outward and rotate forward when opened. The design fosters a roomy passenger area, which is trimmed in exquisite materials and features next-generation interactive technology. Touch-pad screens and projected readouts take the place of most traditional gauges and serve as the audio and climate system controls – a design feature that helps open up the interior for greater passenger space.

“While small in size, this concept is an exploration of what Cadillac could be in the future, as the brand continues to focus on redefining industry standards for advanced vehicle design and integrated technology,” said Don Butler, vice president for Cadillac marketing.

Engineers have developed a concept hybrid propulsion system for the Urban Luxury Concept that includes a turbocharged 1.0L three-cylinder engine employing electric assist technology, engine start-stop function, brake energy regeneration and a dry dual-clutch transmission. Based on extensive prototype and production experience, a combination of these technologies could offer projected fuel economy of 56 mpg in the city and 65 mpg on the highway, in a vehicle of the size and configuration of the Urban Luxury Concept.

A new scale of Art & Science

As a strong example of form following function, the unconventional body style maximizes passenger space and makes a technology statement. At the push of a button, the large, scissor-type doors push away from the body and rotate in a seamless, elegant motion. A large aperture allows for effortless entry and exit– particularly in tight city parking spaces.

“This is a new vision in vehicle design that was created to answer the needs of city dwellers,” said Frank Saucedo, lead designer. “The door design is purposeful and technologically advanced, which is the essence of how we’re taking Cadillac into the future.”

The Urban Luxury Concept’s design is marked by a sharp profile, supported by forward-sweeping body lines that combine to suggest motion even when the vehicle is stationary. The 19-inch wheels are pushed to the edges of the body – a design that creates almost no overhangs, leaving more space inside. In fact, the car’s wheelbase is 97.1 inches (2,467 mm), but the overall length is only 151 inches (3,835 mm). The interior room is bolstered by a wide, 68.1-inch (1,730 mm) stance and 56.9-inch (1,446 mm) height.

“It may not look like Cadillacs on the road today, but it shares the comfortable and high-tech elements that owners have come to associate with larger, traditional luxury sedans,” said Saucedo. “As more customers demand premium features even in smaller vehicles, a vehicle like the Urban Luxury Concept could be a solution.”

Technologically advanced interior

A large windshield and twin skylights create an open, airy feeling and enhance the perception of spaciousness inside with seating for four. A minimalist approach blends with refined materials, colors and lighting. These elements combine to create a passenger space that conveys the new perception of luxury: small, exquisitely detailed and fitted with the latest in digital technology. The front row passenger seat slides and reclines to offer a relaxing seating position. When folded flat, the seat’s rear panel offers modern parents a conveniently integrated Orbit Baby SmartHub™ docking station within reach.

“There is no minimum size for a Cadillac driving experience. The Urban Luxury Concept’s interior reflects the ‘smaller is better’ aesthetic that permeates the world of technology,” said Saucedo. “And while this design philosophy reflects what’s going on in the world around us, it also has a more practical use when it comes to the Urban Luxury Concept: It creates more interior space.”

The conventional “center stack” of controls is replaced by a divided interface that creates more space at the forward section of the interior. A pair of projected readouts flanks a large, prominent analog speedometer reminiscent of a high-end time piece, assisted by a high-definition head-up display. Capacitive multi-touch switches throughout the interior ensure seamless and intuitive electronic control.

The technology behind the unique touch pad controls is ergonomically tucked around the steering wheel to deliver real-time feedback for an efficient commute. The right-hand touch pad is hidden until deployed or detached by the passenger, who can interact online without compromising the driver’s control. Via the on-board network, a passenger can request destination directions or audio playlists be integrated in the driver controls. Also woven into the system is OnStar with advanced voice recognition interaction, which allows the driver to do more without taking his or her eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel.

Befitting its role as a Cadillac, the Urban Luxury Concept’s interior materials convey luxury through quality and advanced technology. Blue and grey leather dominates the interior space and is contrasted by fabric selected for its high-tech look and feel, and usually found in couture fashion. It is used on the seats, as well as parts of the instrument panel and door panels.

The interior is finished with carbon-color wood inlays, brushed aluminum accents and ceramic materials. Ambient lighting conveys an upscale aura that is complemented by the ultra-modern Tanzanite glow of the touch-screen displays.