To Malaysian, the American car brand Cadillac would bring to mind those large, super-long limousines with darkened windows used by American presidents and also Mafia bosses. Indeed, at one time, Cadillac cars were highly respected but when the world became more aware of the limited fuel resources on the planet, Cadillacs were seen as being the greatest fuel-guzzlers.
Over the past two decades, however, the company (which is part of General Motors) has revised almost its entire range and some fine, reasonably fuel-efficient models are now being sold. But Cadillac still wants to retain its historical image as a maker of upscale sedans with class and has been working on ‘brand character development’ during the past few years.
One way has been through the creation of emotive concept cars like the Evox luxury roadster which was shown at many 1999 motorshows. This year, the company unveiled the Imaj (pronounced “e-maaj”) which is said to blend the luxury of traditional coachbuilders with 21st century technology.
Intended as a refined sedan for the world market, the Imaj was designed with much support from GM’s British concept studio. It has styling which would be recognisable by Cadillac loyalists, with sharp lines and crisp intersections that give a diamond-like quality.
“Much like the fashion industry’s ‘signature label’ products, Imaj would be very exclusive and limited,” says Wayne Cherry, GM’s vice-president and director of GM Design and Portfolio Centres. “It’s designed to be a high-end flagship, chauffeur-driver on weekdays and personally-driven on weekends, for both Cadillac and GM, pushing the limits of performance, comfort and communications technology.”
To further enhance the concept car’s opulent luxury, Cadillac teamed up with famous Italian jeweler Bvlgari to have custom-made aluminium baggage and an exclusive fine clock and distinctive instrumentation.
The Imaj can switch from rear-wheel drive to all-wheel drive whenever the driver needs it and available on demand are 312 kW/425 bhp from its supercharged V8 engine. Performance is further enhanced with the lightweight aluminium spaceframe construction and liberal use of aluminium in suspension components.
Those who love high-tech will find lots to drool over as the Imaj showcases some of GM’s finsest communications and safety technology. On the dashboard is a state-of-the-art Delphi infotainment system with :LCD screens from IBM for all passengers; the top-class audio system has nothing less than a DVD and there’s also internet access. Rearview video cameras replace mirrors while Night Vision and radar parking obstacle alert systems make driving safer. There’s also active suspension with a next-generation StabiliTrak system, Goodyear EMT run-flat tyres, Brembo brakes and cardkey access.