One of my favourite cars at the LA motor show is the Cadillac ULC - Urban Luxury Concept. A 3.8-metre front drive four-seater that’s been designed to show how Caddy’s virtues can be condensed down.
It’s a smart, striking car and one that could potentially refresh our opinions of the brand, especially in Europe. It’s designed with young working professionals in mind and designed to maximise space in a small package without giving up creature comforts. The ULC was designed in Caddy’s Hollywood studio, but the unexpected twist is that the man leading the team is Brit Niki Smart. Better known to you and me and the man who designed the Ariel Atom.
The Caddy is his new baby though and he intelligently talked me through the rationale behind the car, although admitted that it was going to be hard for traditional Cadillac buyers and even some management in Detroit to get their heads around it.
“It’s initially going to be a shock” he told us “but if people even entertain it that’s a major coup. It’s a brave move for Detroit, even to show it at the LA autoshow. It’s taken a while internally for it to be allowed to be put out there. Cadiallac’s always been bold but we’re trying to manage it to make it more palatable.”
Smart did admit though that production possibility is some way off but it shouldn’t be discounted. He’s even come up with a simple engineering solution to make those gullwing doors cheap and simple enough to manufacture.
“The outside and inside are extremely credible, so people can’t claim that it’s pie in the sky. We need a bigger spread of models for Europe and for me being English this is an easy sell. Mini’s success in the US is a good example of people’s open-mindedness.”
Will it work? I think so. Caddy’s next car is the ATS, a small rear-drive saloon. Potentially good for Europe but very conventional too. The ULC would work and you could see it happily working as well in London as it would in LA.