Luxury buyers have traditionally measured a vehicle’s worth by the pound and inch. But, in an increasingly urban global environment, size doesn’t always measure up. The big cars of the past very well could be replaced by something more compact but equally luxurious.
Or so Cadillac seems to be suggesting with the Urban Luxury Concept it is introducing at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, a prototype that, the maker says, “offers the luxury experience in a diminutive size.”
Measuring just 151 inches, nose-to-tail, and with a 97.1-inch wheelbase, the ULC is comparable in size to the sort of city cars becoming increasingly popular in Europe and Japan, and which some industry planners will continue to gain momentum in emerging markets like China and India.
Despite the relatively compact footprint, the ULC’s tall crossover-like stance – with a 56.9-inch height and a 68.1-inch width – provides far more interior space than might seem apparent, at first. And to ease access, Cadillac designers have opted for a gullwing design – which is operated at the touch of a button.
“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 lead designer Frank Saucedo.
Does that mean a ULC might find a place in Caddy’s line-up? “As more customers demand premium features even in smaller vehicles,” Saucedo suggests, “ a vehicle like the Urban Luxury Concept could be a solution.”
The Urban Luxury Concept features a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that uses electric assist to boost both performance and fuel-economy. The powertrain has a stop/start function to further reduce fuel consumption while idling.
Inside, various touchpads and projected readouts serve to replace conventional gauges and instrumentation.
While the prototype isn’t likely to show up in a Cadillac showroom anytime soon – certainly not in the U.S., anyway, the General Motors brand does appear ready to downsize, at least a bit. GM’s premium brand recently announced plans to build a new compact luxury car, smaller than the current CTS, at its factory near Lansing, Michigan, which is tentatively named the ATS. (Click Here for more.)
And Cadillac isn’t alone. Virtually every major luxury maker has taken similar steps, including BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, which is just launching a compact hybrid crossover, the CT 200h.
One of the most striking of the new, small luxury models is the Aston Martin Cygnet. This urban microcar was jointly developed with Toyota, and uses the same platform as the Japanese maker’s tiny iQ. A less luxurious version will soon show up in the U.S. bearing the Scion brand name.