R&T Review - 2004 Cadillac XLR.

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jul 16, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,798
    Likes Received:
    1,699
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    A rekindled Cadillac's excellent luxury sports car.

    [​IMG]

    Once was a time when Cadillacs were considered hip and cool. Big fins and whitewall tires. Vast expanses of gleaming sheet metal and glittering chrome. Driving a Caddy meant you had made it in the world. It was a shining symbol of success. Businessmen, politicians and rock stars all drove them. Elvis owned several.

    Then, sometime between the end of Vietnam and the beginning of the fad-happy '80s, the Cadillac's appeal slowly started to slip away. Its iconic standing gradually fell victim to the growing popularity of luxury imports from first Europe, then eventually, Japan. While many Cadillac stalwarts remained loyal to the brand, newer, younger buyers looked elsewhere. And despite efforts to project a fresher, more progressive image, many buyers, until recently, associated Cadillac more with blue hair than blue chips. They were cars driven by grandparents.

    The 2004 XLR is not your grandfather's Cadillac. It looks like nothing else on the road, let alone grandpa's Eldorado. Starting with a clean sheet of paper and a bold new design philosophy, the XLR breaks new ground not only for Cadillac, but GM as a whole. It picks up where the striking Evoq concept car left off in 1999, adopting the same aggressive stance, tall beltline and stealth fighter-inspired exterior styling. Like the CTS sedan and forthcoming SRX crossover, the XLR projects a distinct edginess that has become the signature of Cadillac's new, more performance-oriented attitude.

    This design direction continues inside, where simplicity and understated elegance are the dominant themes. Unlike the CTS, which suffers from an overabundance of intersecting materials and surfaces, the XLR cockpit is pleasantly devoid of clutter. Subtly textured aluminum and eucalyptus wood accents on the doors, steering wheel and center console tastefully complement the interior's quietly businesslike appearance. The Bulgari-designed instruments reinforce this clean styling approach and even the multi-function LCD screen manages to remain relatively unobtrusive despite controlling myriad systems, such as navigation, stereo and the CD/DVD player. A head-up display discreetly shows vital data like speed, turn indicators, audio system and Adaptive Cruise Control settings. For those wanting to go topless, one button drops the power retractable hardtop in less than 30 seconds.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The XLR's no-nonsense cockpit blends performance and elegance with strategic sprinklings of aluminum and eucalyptus wood throughout. The gauges were designed in conjunction with jeweler Bulgari.

    Backing up the XLR's edgy look are a chassis and drivetrain that are more than up to the job of delivering the goods promised by its head-turning body. Power comes from the next-generation iteration of Cadillac's quad-cam 4.6-liter Northstar V-8. Engineered to work with either rear-wheel- or all-wheel-drive configurations (for the SRX), this latest dohc Northstar incorporates continuously variable valve timing, electronic throttle control and a higher 10.5:1 compression ratio to deliver 320 bhp and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. Combine that power with a refreshingly svelte (for a luxury roadster) 3660-lb. curb weight and 0-60 mph flies by in just 5.6 seconds. The quarter mile passes in 14.0 sec. at 102.6 mph en route to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Yes, all this from a Cadillac.

    In addition to boasting 20 more horses and an additional 15 lb.-ft. of torque over the current fwd Northstar engine, this newest longitudinally-mounted version also benefits from improvements aimed at delivering a more refined driving experience. The induction system has been redesigned for quieter operation, while polymer-coated pistons, a stiffer steel crankshaft and cast-iron manifolds have all been incorporated to further reduce mechanical noise and vibration.

    Adding to this increased level of refinement is the new rear-mounted 5-speed automatic transaxle. Based on the 4-speed unit currently in the CTS, this latest gearbox has been modified to handle the XLR's increased power output and operates in an effortless, transparent fashion. Full-throttle upshifts and downshifts feel practically seamless, exhibiting none of the abruptness sometimes associated with higher-horsepower automatic applications.

    And thanks to well-executed adaptive-logic programming, it's also smart enough to "learn" particular driving styles and react in a surprisingly appropriate manner. During hard cornering sequences, for instance, it not only learns to predict when to hold a particular gear but, in some cases, will also downshift a gear or two while braking for a turn. Flip the gear lever to the manual mode and shifts are performed just as smoothly, but with the added benefit of selecting gears when and where you like.

    [​IMG]
    The 4.6-liter 320-bhp Northstar V-8 is pure and sophisticated Detroit muscle. A potent supercharged Northstar V-8 is rumored for the upcoming XLR-V.

    As good as the drivetrain is, the big news is what it's bolted to. Rather than producing the XLR from a modified luxury-coupe platform, as some of its competitors have done, Cadillac chose the opposite approach. Its engineers started with an all-new performance-oriented roadster chassis, then gave it the comfort and refinement of a luxury coupe. Officially referred to as GM's "performance car architecture," the XLR chassis is that of the future C6 Corvette. Major drivetrain, suspension and brake components differ between the two cars, but the backbone is the same-steel hydroformed perimeter frame rails enclosing a central tunnel with an aluminum cockpit structure and composite floors.

    It's light, strong and torsionally very rigid. Weight has been saved through use of magnesium in the hardtop mechanism and aluminum in the suspension control arms and crossmembers. Retractable hardtop up or down, structural rigidity is excellent with minor cowl shake noticeable only on the roughest of surfaces.

    Double wishbones and real-time-adjustable shock damping combine to give the XLR impressive levels of comfort and poise. Like the system currently available on the Corvette, the XLR's Magnetic Ride Control uses electronically controlled, magnetic-fluid-based shock absorbers to maintain ride quality and control body movements. Using information provided by a network of wheel motion sensors, the system uses electromagnetic charges to alter the viscosity of the iron particle-impregnated shock fluid, thereby changing the shock's damping characteristics. This happens in as little as one millisecond, making for virtually instantaneous and simultaneous damping changes at all four corners. Also linked to the XLR's suspension are the anti-lock braking, StabiliTrak stability-control and traction-control systems.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The result of all this electromagnetic wizardry is a car that can change its character from luxury coupe to performance roadster in a matter of a few feet. Out on the highway, it cruises along as comfortably as any good sedan. Bumps are absorbed without fuss and directional stability is never an issue. Take the next offramp at speed and the suspension immediately firms up to minimize body roll and maximize available grip. Throw a couple of mid-turn ripples into the mix, and the XLR continues tracking predictably through the turn seemingly unruffled by the corner's events.

    The story's the same on back roads, where Cadillac's flagship really surprises. Thanks to its near 50/50 weight distribution and relatively neutral nature, the XLR actually begins to feel smaller the more it's tossed around. Eventually this balance gives way to mild understeer at the limit of adhesion, but up till then grip and control remain consistent. Along the way, the steering feels communicative, albeit a touch heavy at parking-lot speeds, and the brakes quietly get the job done with very good feel and modulation.

    Not only does the XLR's chassis accept most anything thrown in its direction, the engine and transmission remain ever-enthusiastic participants. The Northstar's power delivery is perhaps the smoothest of any GM engine to date, working in concert with one of the smartest and most intuitive transmissions around. Together, the sum of these parts makes up a hugely satisfying whole with both the looks and the performance to boldly compete in the high-end roadster segment. And priced at $75,435, this most expensive of Cadillacs doesn't shrink from competing amongst such established players as the Mercedes-Benz SL500, Jaguar XK8 and Lexus SC 430. How will it fare? That remains to be seen, but it's already faster, lighter and more powerful than the other three, so it's off to a good start.

    And what about Cadillac recapturing its past glory as the favored ride of the rich and famous? The brand probably won't ever occupy the position it did during its heyday, but judging from our experience with the XLR and the enthusiastic reactions we encountered, it's safe to say Cadillac's headed in the right direction. If he were around today, you can bet The King would be driving one.

    [​IMG]

    2004 Cadillac XLR
    Current list price $75,435
    Engine DOHC 4.6-liter V-8
    Horsepower 320 bhp @ 6400 rpm
    Torque 310 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
    Transmission 5-speed automatic
    0-60 mph 5.6 sec
    Braking 60-0 mph 122 ft
    Lateral accel (200-ft skidpad) 0.88g
    EPA city/highway 17/25 mpg
    Length 177.7 in.
    Width 72.3 in.
    Height 50.4 in.
    Wheelbase 105.7 in.
    Track, f/r 62.2 in./62.2 in.
    Curb weight 3660 lb

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2003
  2. Hurricurry

    Hurricurry professional alcoholic OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,732
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Belgium
    i like the cadillac concept car
     
  3. Jeebus

    Jeebus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Messages:
    55,391
    Likes Received:
    90
    Location:
    KNOCK KNOCK! LOL!
    N*gga stole my 1/4 mile times :eek3:
     
  4. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    294,094
    Likes Received:
    3,047
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    looks better when it's not that stupid concept car silver.

    Same skidpad rating as a gen1 lightning :o

    I still say it needs an ls6 for that price
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,798
    Likes Received:
    1,699
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    :boink: :boink: :boink:

    Just imagine what the base C6 will be like with specs as good as the Caddys. :eek3:

    0-60 mph 5.6 sec
    1/4 mile 14 sec
    Braking 60-0 mph 122 ft
    Lateral accel (200-ft skidpad) 0.88g
    Curb weight 3660 lb
     
  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,798
    Likes Received:
    1,699
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    No it doesn't, it handily outperforms the other luxury roadsters in the class. And it weighs less than they do to boot.

    The supercharged Northstar will be delicious though, AND refined, AND more sophisticated than the LS6.
     
  7. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    294,094
    Likes Received:
    3,047
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Hopefully the vette is a good bit less fat in the ass :big grin:
     
  8. Dr.Smasher

    Dr.Smasher .

    Joined:
    May 23, 2000
    Messages:
    19,854
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    WI
    I would definitely buy that if I had the money
     
  9. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,798
    Likes Received:
    1,699
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    No retracting top and less features = less weight + more power = even better skidpad and accel numbers.

    :bigthumb:
     
  10. kaldurak

    kaldurak Gimme some sugar baby.

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Messages:
    36,802
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    is it available in a hardtop? not that I could ever afford one :hs:
     
  11. bigsteve7

    bigsteve7 OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2003
    Messages:
    379
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    I thought it had a retractable hard top.
     
  12. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,798
    Likes Received:
    1,699
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    It does, it's both a coupe and convertible. Just push a button.
     

Share This Page