Cadillac is to produce a two-seater luxury roadster for the 2003 model year inspired by the acclaimed Evoq concept car, unveiled in January last year.

Cadillac general manager Michael J. O'Malley said today: "As we expand Cadillac's global portfolio, this expressive roadster will be developed to attract customers in all important luxury markets including Europe."

The rear-wheel-drive roadster is another example of how GM intends to lead in product innovation and technology by moving quickly to market with high impact designs.

It will be developed on the next generation of GM's performance car architecture, specifically designed for convertible applications, and featuring advanced steel hydroforming, an aluminium cockpit structure and cored composite floors, making it exceptionally stiff, crashworthy and lightweight.

The price is expected to be competitive with other upscale, low volume roadsters in the luxury segment like the Mercedes SL500 and the Jaguar XK8.

"The Evoq concept dramatically demonstrated the promise of Cadillac's 'art and science' vision. The production version delivers on that promise," said Mr O'Malley.

Vehicle line executive for the new car is David Hill, who was lead engineer on the latest generation of the Corvette.

"The new luxury roadster will be a Cadillac through and through, blending the very best elements of dynamic styling, advanced technology and robust performance via the Northstar System," Hill said.

While strongly influenced by the Evoq concept, the low-volume production version picks up many technology and styling enhancements not featured in the concept. Chief among these is a one-button fully automatic folding hard-top developed by Car Top Systems GmbH of Germany, which has designed roof architectures for some of the most celebrated convertibles in the industry. The interior will feature instrumentation fashioned by the renowned Italian jeweller, Bvlgari.

The new car will also include several exclusive Cadillac technologies, including the 4.6-litre Northstar V8 in its first production rear-wheel drive configuration, mated to an electronic five-speed automatic transmission with manual mode in a trans-axle configuration. Other elements of the Northstar System, like MagneRide active suspension damping and the StabiliTrak yaw control system will be standard as well as Michelin's revolutionary run-flat PAX tyre system. Night Vision, a Cadillac technological first, will also be available.