Cadillac doesn't want to wait for the Evoq's debut in 2002 for its renaissance, it wants its rebirth to begin with the '00 DeVille, which was unveiled last week.

Cadillac's top seller and largest car features impressive gizmos and a more modest design that GM hopes will maintain its current customer base while also luring back baby boomers who drifted away from Cadillac's overblown vehicles and into smaller, performance-orientated imports. The automaker also is making plans to take the car to Europe, possibly by next year.

“We think this car is going to appeal to those who shop in both the entry level luxury and prestige luxury segment,” says Cadillac General Manager John F. Smith.

But while Mr. Smith says the '00 DeVille's opportunity for conquest sales is “considerably greater” than its predeccesor, he predicts U.S. sales will continue to be about 100,000 units annually. DeVille Brand Manager Patrick Kemp expects the base DeVille to account for 70% of sales during the first year of production. The remaining sales mix for the DeVille High Luxury Sedan (DHS) model and DeVille Touring Sedan will be 10% and 20%, respectively.

Job 1 at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck facility was July 27 and full line rate will be attained by early 2000. The car will go on sale this fall. Cadillac won't reveal the price tag yet. By November, it hopes to have 10,000 DeVilles in the field at its 1,550 dealers.

GM chopped 2 ins. off the DeVille's width and length, which helped slim the car, but it's still a hulk compared to competitors.

While DeVille's design will draw its share of divergent opinions, its interior is undeniably space age. Night Vision features infrared technology that allows drivers to see beyond their headlamps while driving at night. However, Cadillac along with Night Vision maker Raytheon, only will have a limited supply (6,000 units) in its maiden year, when excitement for the feature will be the greatest. The system likely will cost $1,000-$1,500, says Mr. Smith.

OnStar is standard. There also is center console monitor for viewing a CD-based navigation system, and Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist that helps drivers while in reverse. StabiliTrak 2.0 adds active steering effort compensation and side-slip-rate control. Three-zone climate control and six air bags augment comfort and safety.