2004 Cadillac XLR - Promises, promises: This time, Cadillac lives up to them.

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 21, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    (08:30 May 12, 2003)

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    By WES RAYNAL

    TRUE CONFESSION: We went out to drive Cadillac’s new flagship, the XLR, fully prepared to come back and call it a complete and utter loser.

    We expected to meet a car that was too heavy, too slow and poorly built. We anticipated squeaks and rattles, a power convertible top that was a nightmare, a wobbly steering column and shaking rearview mirror. In short, we expected we’d have to call the whole thing a big mess, just like Cadillac’s last two-seater, the unloved Allante. When we said as much to the Cadillac officials at the launch, the reply was quiet: “Well, we can’t really blame you. We’ve only done everything to earn your skepticism over say, oh, the last 30 years.”

    We were encouraged to hear Cadillac recognizes the truth of its situation. And then we were even more encouraged to hit the road and discover this is one of those times when our expectations are proven wrong.

    To refresh your memory, the 1999 Detroit show saw the unveiling of the Cadillac Evoq concept, which spawned the Tom Peters-designed production XLR. The XLR was shown 99 percent finished at the 2003 Detroit show, but Cadillac’s wild Sixteen concept pretty much overshadowed the two-seater.

    Our time driving the XLR took place in and around Palm Springs, California. Our route included some freeway driving on Highway 10 as well as the more twisty roads up in the mountains. Cadillac brought along for comparison a few other luxury cruisers: a Jaguar XK8, a Mercedes-Benz SL500 and a Lexus SC 430. That Cadillac was not afraid to let us drive the XLR back to back with those cars, especially the mighty Mercedes, made us think there might be something to all the XLR hype we’ve been hearing over the last four years. It was also refreshing to go to a new-car launch and not hear, “Now remember, these are pre-production prototypes, so the quality levels aren’t quite up to what you’ll see in production...” We heard none of that. Cadillac basically said, “Get in, drive our car and compare.”

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    The XLR more than held its own. The 4.6-liter Northstar DOHC V8, is 80 percent new, producing 320 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque—more power than any of the three competitors mentioned. The engine uses continuously variable valve timing and polymer-coated pistons to cut vibrations, as well as electronic throttle control. The V8 is coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode. There is no manual transmission available yet. The automatic is a version of the CTS’s transmission, made stronger to handle the extra power. It offered up ultrasmooth shifts, and was designed specifically for the XLR.

    There’s push-button start, and once running it proved to be a smooth engine, with a nice snarl when we jumped on it, a smooth throttle response and a fluid buildup of power. 60 mph arrives in 5.7 seconds[/B]. It didn’t exactly feel explosive, but plenty quick enough, we thought. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. Those numbers look strong, a clean second quicker to 60 mph than were the SL500 and SC 430 we tested, both of which ran to 60 in 6.68 seconds.

    A supercharged V-Series XLR is rumored to be under development at GM’s Milford proving grounds.

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    We drove the XLR fairly hard and found the steering crisp and properly weighted.

    The magnetic ride control suspension, seen previously on Sevilles and 50th anniversary edition Corvettes, helps engineers sort the ride/handling compromise tremendously. The XLR’s 49/51 weight distribution doesn’t hurt either. The magic of the suspension is found in the shocks containing magnetorheological fluid. Sensors measure how much damping is needed and adjust the viscosity of the shock fluid accordingly. The result is the car feels plush at low speeds—not too soft, but comfortable on what few road bumps we could find—becoming more firm as speeds increase. The steering communication also felt better the harder we pushed the car. The XLR never lost its composure during our drive, and the body motion was minimal. The brakes were smooth and consistent all day.

    The car is as flingable as the Benz, and Stabilitrak keeps things in line, sensing wheelspin at any of the four corners and applying a little brake if necessary. Still, we felt the XLR, riding on 18-inch Michelin ZP run-flats, was a little under-tired. Visually, the wheel wells could stand more meat to fill them out, but it was occasional tire-squealing understeer, a little earlier than we would have hoped, that suggested the car could use bigger tires. (We felt the same way about the SL500’s performance when we put that car through our AutoFile test.) The XLR doesn’t feel heavy though, and indeed, at 3643 pounds, weighs less (thanks mostly to the composites and aluminum) than those competitors Cadillac brought along to compare.

    Forget our Allante-based worries about the top, too. The XLR’s retractable hardtop, from the same supplier that does the Mercedes SL wonder-lid, worked fine. Operating it was painless, taking about half a minute to lower with the proverbial touch of a button. Wind noise was minimal with the top up, even at a steady 80 mph on the freeway.

    There’s oodles of technology making it all happen. In addition to the magnetic ride control and Stabilitrak, the XLR has the next-generation, ultrastiff hydroformed frame rails it will share with the C6 Corvette, balsa-cored wood-composite floors, heated and cooled seats, keyless access and adaptive cruise control, which adjusts your speed according to how fast the car ahead is going.

    Cadillac officials call the XLR cabin “the best interior we’ve ever done.” In recent memory, at least, we’d have to agree from a quality standpoint.

    The inside is trimmed in high quality leather, eucalyptus wood and aluminum trim with Bvlgari-designed instruments. The cockpit is sharp-edged and angular like the exterior, and the quality levels looked good (as did the exterior’s quality—body panel fits, for example, were tight and consistent end to end), as good as the competition’s. There was plenty of room inside to spread out a little, and the composite-frame leather seats were comfortable and supportive. There were no shoddy-looking surfaces, and the insides of storage areas, such as the door pockets and glovebox, were nicely finished—no rough edges here.

    A color touch-screen high on the center console gives access to the navigation system, a nine-speaker Bose stereo (which provided terrific sound) and a DVD entertainment system, which only works when the car is parked. OnStar is standard, and you can add the Virtual Advisor service to get stock quotes, weather news and e-mail in your car.

    The whole ball of wax costs $76,250, including the $815 destination charge. The car comes basically loaded to the gills, the only factory option is XM Satellite Radio, at $325.

    Cadillac will build seven XLRs a day, “starting sometime this summer,” or no more than 5000 a year at the start of production, officials say, at GM’s Bowling Green plant in Kentucky.

    If you’re in the market for an upscale two-seater, all of a sudden the local Cadillac dealer isn’t a bad place to start.

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    2004 CADILLAC XLR
    BASE PRICE: $76,250
    POWERTRAIN: 4.6-liter, 320-hp, V8; rwd, five-speed automatic
    CURB WEIGHT: 3643 pounds
    0-60 MPH: 5.7 seconds

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  2. LOUDSYSTEM

    LOUDSYSTEM Guest

    too slow for the amount
     
  3. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Faster than the competition.
     
  4. mads.

    mads. OT Supporter

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    yep nice , but not 76,000 USD
     
  5. Section8

    Section8 .

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    If I had the money, I'd buy one :o I think it's awesome. Glad Cadillac is finally making appealing cars.
     
  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :werd:

    The car is a work of art.
     
  7. LOUDSYSTEM

    LOUDSYSTEM Guest

    so its just supposed to compete with benz etc?
     
  8. bal

    bal New Member

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  9. Hybrid

    Hybrid Guest

    ya ok, what a waste of money. id buy the mercedes even though its slower. its obvious im not buying that kind of car so i can go to Race Wars and win money
     
  10. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    I'd still take the Mercedes and the Lexus over it. Thats just me though... and IMO, the others look head and shoulders better than this car does. All this car does is remind me of the Allante, and we all know what happened to that thing.

    Like you said, promises, promises.
     
  11. limitless

    limitless You didnt hurt me, nothing can hurt me, nothing ca

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    Didnt read the article since I dont care about Cadillacs one iota.

    But could that side profile shot look ANY MORE like an S2000? :ugh:
     
  12. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Right.

    The speed demon will still be the C6, but this will give us a taste of what the C6 has in store.

    Apparently a supercharged XLR may be on the way too, we'll see.
     
  13. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    What AW said, and it lives up to them.
     
  14. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    About 20K too much. And the Z06 is about 10K too much.
     
  15. LOUDSYSTEM

    LOUDSYSTEM Guest

    from what it looks like the C6 isnt going to look much different :(
     
  16. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    I'm sure it does... but I think Caddilac is going to have a hard time pulling Mercedes and Lexus owners away from their cars w/ that design. Its not exactly "eye candy".
     
  17. Hybrid

    Hybrid Guest

    trishield likes the S2000 look though, only cause its an american car :bigthumb:
     
  18. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    They're the same underneath, chassis and dimension-wise anyways.
     
  19. AlkyHauler

    AlkyHauler Do you feel lucky punk? OT Supporter

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    Screw that, you can buy the E55 AMG for 75K and it runs the 1/4 in 12.4. :big grin: I do like that Caddy though. :cool: No way in hell I'd ever pay that much for it but it looks nice.
     
  20. GReddy EX

    GReddy EX Guest

  21. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    For the record, I like the way both cars look.
     
  22. GReddy EX

    GReddy EX Guest

    and the lower grille STILL looks as awkward as it did a year ago....
     
  23. Nemesis_152

    Nemesis_152 I'm a delicate desert flower from Arizona.

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    trishield owns all...thank you for your services.
     
  24. Section8

    Section8 .

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    Just my opinion, but i hate the lexus. I think it's horrid. The Merc is nice, but it looks it just doesn't do it for me like this Caddy does.

    Sadly, I agree with you though. Caddy is going to have a really hard time wooing buyers away from proven cars, with sleek designs with this, rather radical design, added to thier "proven" build quality, performance history.
     
  25. GReddy EX

    GReddy EX Guest


    then your opinion sucks :squint: :rofl:




    j/p
     

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