Special Coverage

Greater L.A. Auto Show

LOS ANGELES – Here in the nation’s second-largest city, car culture is as deeply engrained in the regional fabric as sunsets, surfboards and fitness clubs.

General Motors Co.’s latest concept from its Cadillac luxury division recognizes big-city dwellers may love their cars but ultimately crave something functional, fun, stylish and fuel efficient.

Cadillac’s answer is the Urban Luxury Concept, a 2-door, 4-passenger cross/utility vehicle unveiled at a reception Tuesday night on the eve of the press days for the annual auto show here.

The ULC carries forth Cadillac’s edgy and familiar styling language, with a few unusual twists, such as the rising scissor-style doors and minimalist overhangs. The 19-in. wheels are pushed so far to each corner that the concept looks like the offspring of a Cadillac SRX mated to a Smart car.

Conceived and designed at GM’s advanced styling studios here for metropolitan motorists accustomed to confined parking spaces, the ULC is intended to exhibit a small exterior footprint while providing a spacious interior. It’s comparable in size to popular city cars found in Paris, Shanghai and London.

“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,” says Frank Saucedo, lead designer. “As more customers demand premium features even in smaller vehicles, a vehicle like the Urban Luxury Concept could be a solution.”

Power for the concept comes from a hybrid propulsion system that includes a turbocharged 1.0L 3-cyl. engine with stop/start capability and electric assist technology. Regenerative brakes capture energy produced during stopping, and a dry dual-clutch transmission boosts efficiency.

Maximizing application of these technologies, GM says the ULC could offer projected fuel economy of 56/65 mpg (4.1-3.6 L/100 km) in city/highway driving.

Inside, touchpad screens and projected readouts replace most traditional gauges and provide controls for audio and climate systems. The center stack of controls is replaced by a divided interface that creates more space in the front of the cabin.

Projected readouts flank a large, prominent analog speedometer, assisted by a high-definition head-up display. The ULC offers OnStar emergency service with advanced voice recognition, which allows drivers to access information without taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the steering wheel.

The upward-swinging doors provide large openings for easy access to back seats. Wheelbase measures 97.1 ins. (247 cm), while overall length is 151 ins. (384 cm).

The interior is finished with carbon-color wood inlays, brushed aluminum accents and ceramic materials. Touch-screen displays exude an ultra-modern Tanzanite glow.

Production of the ULC seems unlikely near term, but every brand, including Cadillac, will have to consider designs such as this one to meet strict fuel-economy standards phasing in later in the decade.