After going more than a decade without one, Cadillac added a two-passenger sports car to its lineup for 2004. Named the XLR, the retractable-hardtop coupe gave Cadillac a luxury roadster with a performance-oriented chassis and structure. Changes for 2008 include a heated steering wheel and a limited edition Alpine White XLR in addition to last year's Platinum edition.
Cadillac promotes the "harmonious blend of technologies and materials meant to add pleasure, not complexity, to the driving experience." A long list of technical features includes a head-up display, radar-operated adaptive cruise control and an electronic stability system.
Cadillac has revised the XLR's Magnetic Ride Control. The system provides magnetic-fluid-based real-time damping and has been retuned to improve ride and handling, Cadillac says. Keyless Access with push-button start permits true no-key operation. For safety's sake, the engine will not start unless the remote fob is in the car and the driver is depressing the brake pedal.
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Cadillac says stealth fighters inspired the XLR, which serves as "a contemporary expression of Cadillac's heritage of landmark design and advanced technology." Its linear form hints of the marque's history. The XLR's vertical headlights are part of Cadillac's current design philosophy.
The roadster has a rear-mounted transmission that makes the weight distribution close to 50/50. Cadillac says the XLR's steel hydroformed frame rails couple with an aluminum cockpit structure and balsa-cored composite flooring to provide "rigidity without bulk." Run-flat tires eliminate the need for a spare.
Built on a 105.7-inch wheelbase, the XLR is 177.7 inches long overall. Retracting the hardtop takes less than 30 seconds. Made of aluminum and magnesium, the top structure features composite exterior panels, a heated glass back window and glass rear-quarter windows.
Eighteen-inch wheels are standard. The new Alpine White and the Platinum edition will receive special chrome wheels and grille, though tire sizes remain the same. For 2008, the XLR is available in six interior/exterior color combinations and has a hand-crafted leather interior.
Two occupants fit inside the XLR's luxurious interior, which can feature light or dark eucalyptus wood and aluminum accents. The seatbacks and cushions are heated and cooled. For 2008, the steering wheel is also heated. The DVD navigation/entertainment system has a 7-inch screen in the upper center console, but the entertainment system operates only when the gear selector is in Park. The XLR also comes with a head-up display that projects information for the driver onto the windshield.
A nine-speaker Bose audio system includes an in-dash six-CD changer. XM Satellite Radio and GM's OnStar communication and navigation systems are standard. Trunk capacity is 11.6 cubic feet with the top up, but space drops to 4.4 cubic feet when the roof is retracted.
Under the Hood
A 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 with variable valve timing produces 320 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 310 pounds-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Premium fuel is recommended. The XLR has a six-speed automatic transmission that incorporates a manual-shift mode.
Side-impact airbags are installed in the seats. The seat belts have powered pretensioners. Four-channel all-disc antilock brakes, traction control and a stability system are standard.
With a low driving position like Chevrolet's Corvette, the XLR is one sweet road machine. Acceleration for passing is close to stunning, and the XLR is also quick from a standstill. Ride comfort beats most sports cars by a mile, and steering is tight and impressively precise. High sills demand some twisting to get inside.
The performance-packed V edition of the XLR is fitted with a supercharged 4.4-liter V-8 that develops 443 hp at 6,400 rpm and 414 pounds-feet of torque at 3,900 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission incorporates Performance Algorithm Shifting and Performance Algorithm Liftfoot systems, along with Driver Shift Control for manually selected gear changes.
The XLR-V will be available in a new color, Elektra Blue, for 2008. Unique XLR-V design features include polished wire-mesh upper and lower grilles, a sculpted hood and four stainless-steel exhaust tips. The interior has Zingana wood trim and aluminum accents on the wheel. It also has a rear stabilizer bar and a larger front stabilizer bar. (Back to top)