September 5, 2002: GM Powertrain’s 2004 Northstar V8 Sets New Standard

FOR RELEASE: September 5, 2002

Thomas Read, GM Powertrain Communications

Dave Roman, GM Powertrain Communications

GM Powertrain’s 2004 Northstar V8 Sets New Standard

Cadillac XLR and SRX to Benefit from Next-Generation Northstar Performance and Refinement Improvements

WARREN, Mich. -- When Cadillac debuted the Northstar V8 engine in the 1993 Allanté, it quickly became a benchmark for sophisticated performance. GM Powertrain has taken the Northstar 4.6-liter, dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) V8 to a higher level of performance and refinement by developing a next-generation version of the highly regarded engine for the 2004 Cadillac XLR and SRX. The next-generation Northstar is the first adaptation to rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) configurations.

"The next-generation Northstar was extensively re-engineered to provide drivers with a technologically advanced powerplant that will establish a new benchmark for luxury vehicles in performance, refinement and the total driving experience," said John Zinser, GM Powertrain Northstar chief engineer. "We want our customers to experience the full exhilaration of driving, which includes performance and acceleration plus the feel of the road, sound of the engine, and a strong sense of being in control and in touch with the driving experience.

"This new Northstar does just that with smooth, refined performance throughout its entire operating range. It is quiet, yet tuned to give the driver feedback from the environment. It operates even more cleanly and efficiently than its predecessors with excellent reliability and durability."

Improved Performance

While refined operating characteristics were a priority in developing the new Northstar, the overall goal was exceptional performance. The performance targets are best exemplified by the XLR roadster: 0-60 mph acceleration in under six seconds; the quarter mile in less than 14.7 seconds, and a top speed of 155 mph, the industry’s voluntary limit for high-performance cars.

In both new Cadillac models, the Northstar delivers a higher output across the entire operating range with targeted output of 315 horsepower (235 kW) @ 6400 rpm and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm) of torque @ 4,400 rpm. In addition to these peak values, new four-cam continuously variable timing has freed the engine from the traditional constraints of fixed-cams that can only provide either high horsepower or high torque.

The Northstar also has an increased 10.5:1 compression ratio. While premium fuel is recommended for maximum performance, it can be operated on regular unleaded fuel.

New Technology and Design Features

The Northstar V8 is a 90-degree, DOHC, four-valves-per-cylinder engine featuring an aluminum block and cylinder heads, and a valvetrain configuration with roller finger followers. While maintaining these basic features, the new RWD version provides a host of Northstar "firsts," new technologies and design features to position it as a segment leader:


head portsand exhaust manifolds were redesigned to ensure optimum airflow and cylinder-to-cylinder distribution for maximum performance and emissions control.

. They reach effective operating temperature more rapidly after engine start-up and minimize the time for emissions "light off." They also eliminate the need for supplemental converters or air injection reaction (AIR) systems to meet emissions requirements.

. An extremely powerful, state-of-the-art ECM, with a 16-bit, 24 MHz dual microprocessor, high memory capacity, and a redundant "safety" processor backing up the ETC enables the Northstar engine to provide its advanced capabilities. The controller is also designed for a GM LAN communication protocol speed of 500 kbit/second and has a 185-pin connection system for enhanced input/output capability. Currently, 120-pin systems are more the norm. GM’s LAN communication protocol is an adaptation of the industry-wide CAN-Bus (control area network).



. To optimize coolant and oil flow for the new application, the water pump was moved to the front of the engine, which required changing all of the coolant passages and engine cavities - in effect, a virtual redesign of the block and heads.

The cover, in addition to providing measurable noise reduction, maintains the attractive, neat and orderly underhood harmony of the previous Northstar’s installations. Any components not shielded by the cover have been carefully reviewed for finish and corrosion resistance.

The heater, which can be added for faster warm-ups in extremely cold weather, fits into a compartment outside the coolant passageway (rather than within the coolant circulation system) to eliminate any potential leaks.



Configuration 4.6L V8 Horsepower 315 @ 6400 rpm
Bore x stroke 93 mm x 84 mm Torque (lb-ft) 310 @ 4400 rpm
Displacement 4565 cc Fuel system Sequential fuel injection
Valvetrain DOHC 4 valves per cylinder Cylinder block Aluminum
Compression ratio 10.5:1 Cylinder heads Aluminum

GM Powertrain is a global producer of engines, transmissions, castings and components for GM vehicles and other automotive, marine, and industrial OEMs. Headquartered in Pontiac, Mich., GM Powertrain has operating and coordinating responsibility for GM’s powertrain manufacturing plants and engineering centers in North America, South America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region.

Note to Editors: Complete press releases and photography available on the Internet at GM Media Online ( Photography is also available through Wieck Photo Database at 972-392-0888.

Article ID: 84
Created: December 21, 2016
Last Updated: December 21, 2016
Author: Rob Loszewski

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