Cadillac goes after Audi and BMW with new Optiq SUV for Europe

Cadillac Optic grey front lead
Cadillac Optic grey front lead

The SUV should promise a range of up to 300 miles, although WLTP figures are unconfirmed

The Cadillac Optiq will launch later this year as the first vehicle in the American brand’s UK offensive.

Positioned as the “luxury entry point” into the brand’s electric line-up, the SUV will rival the Audi Q4 e-tron and BMW iX3 when it hits roads in the Autumn.

The larger BMW iX-chasing Lyriq, which is already on sale in select European markets, will join soon after.

The new offensive comes seven years after parent firm General Motors effectively pulled out of Europe following the sale of Opel and Vauxhall to the PSA Group (now Stellantis).


Since then, it's maintained only a limited import operation for Chevrolet Corvette and Cadillac – the latter which sells only the XT4 in the UK.

However, in 2021, the American giant created a new European division, headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland, and has been gearing up to for an all-electric reinvention, spearheaded by Cadillac.

GM plans to offer an electric line-up globally by 2035, having invested significantly in its Ultium platform which underpins the Optiq and Lyriq as well as the the GMC Hummer EV off-roader and Cadillac Silverado EV pick-up truck. 

For its UK entry point this means the top-spec Optiq will be powered by a dual-motor, four-wheel-drive powertrain developing 300bhp and 354lb ft of torque. Full European specifications have yet to be released.

The Optiq's 85kWh battery should be good for a range of up to 300 miles, although WLTP figures are yet to be homologated.

Charging rates are yet to be revealed, but Cadillac claims that the Optiq can gain up to 79 miles of range in just 10 minutes.

As with many modern EVs, the Optiq features a one-pedal driving function, as well as several modes that adjust its characteristics.

Measuring 4820mm long, 2126mm wide (including wingmirrors) and 1644mm tall, the Optiq is a similar size to the Mercedes-Benz EQC.

The Optiq’s wheelbase is some 150mm shorter than the Lyriq's, which “results in a more agile architecture”, according to Cadillac.

Its cab-back exterior silhouette is claimed to offer “exceptional aerodynamic performance”. The design differs slightly to that of the Lyriq, which has a more rakish roofline.

The front end is dominated by the large Black Crystal Grille, which incorporates Cadillac's 'vertical signature' and a laser-etched pattern.

The quarter panel behind the rear passenger door is another hallmark of the Optiq and is made using laminated glass.

Inside, the EV majors on technology and luxury materials. The dashboard is dominated by a 33in horizontal LED display with 9K resolution. This houses the digital driver’s display and touchscreen infotainment system, which is supported by Google, and controls a 19-speaker sound system.

The Optiq will get Cadillac’s Super Cruise driver assistance technology, which features a driver attention monitoring system, autonomous lane-changing capabilities and a steering-wheel light bar.

Cadillac says that it has focused on adding “innovative materials and a new approach to material application” to its line-up of models.

The accent fabric used inside the car is made from 100% recycled materials, while the Paperwood veneer is made from tulip wood and recycled newspaper.

Buyers will be able to choose between Luxury and Sport trims.

The Optiq starts at $54,000 (£42,340) in the US; Cadillac hasn't yet disclosed the pricing for European markets.

Q&A  - Jaclyn McQuaid, President and Managing Director GM Europe

Does Cadillac’s new line-up of electric models play on the firm’s values and heritage despite being European focused?

“I think it can be both. When you purchase a Cadillac you’re purchasing a car from an iconic brand that has a lot of history; we know how to design cars, we’ve been doing it for a long time and the DNA of Cadillac is very strong.

“We’re moving forward with our new all-electric portfolio that we’re continuing to build on, and we recognize that Europe is a different market than the United States.

“We're incredibly proud of that, but we also need to make sure that what we're offering in Europe matches with the desires in this market.”

Which model do you think will perform best in Europe?

“When customers come and see the Lyriq they are really impressed by how small it feels when they drive it, because the Ultimum battery is placed so low it gives a really low centre of gravity so it hugs the curves – people love the spaciousness.

“That being said, I do think the size of the Optiq is really ideal for European roads, while still giving you spaciousness, it's really a great combination of the two.

“While we’re not ready to reveal pricing just yet, it will be cheaper than the Lyriq and an entry point for people who are going to first discover Cadillac as a brand, and also for customers who are considering an electric vehicle.”

Do you still believe in dealerships rather than moving solely to an agency model?

“We have to be flexible, because we are finding some customers that have been lifelong Cadillac lovers will import models from the US into Europe because they knew what they wanted and were comfortable with this model.

“But there are new customers that are discovering the brand, so our plan is to have our city centre locations to help people explore the brand, while also having locations on the outskirts of cities where it’s more convenient for test drives so people can experience the product.”