The XLR was arguably the most exciting Cadillac since the 1967 Eldorado. Car and Driver greeted it as "a strong entry in the prestigious roadster class," while Road & Track deemed it a sign that "Cadillac is heading in the right direction." And while the XLR wasn't intended to be an everyday sight, initial demand must have gratified division planners, with 4,387 built for '04 and 4190 for '05.
A V-Series XLR was a foregone conclusion, and it arrived for 2006 hewing to the CTS-V formula: understated exterior, "tech-look" interior, big power, even more-dynamic handling. This time, though, Cadillac looked to its own engine laurels with a new supercharged 4.4-liter Northstar that exceeded expectations by pumping out 443 bhp (at 6,400 rpm) and 414 lb-ft of torque, some 90 percent of it available from 2200 to 6000 rpm.
Again, engineers pulled out many stops, conjuring a new intake system, a unique and stronger block casting, oil-cooled pistons, even a redesigned accessory drive. The only transmission was a new six-speed automatic, also with manual shift gate. The regular XLR got it as a 2007 upgrade. Chassis tweaks involved wider 19-inch run-flat tires, a solid front stabilizer bar, the addition of a rear bar, revised tuning for the MRC shocks, and larger brakes borrowed from the Corvette Z51.
Car and Driver's test XLR-V did 0-60 in just 4.7 seconds and a standing quarter-mile of 13 seconds at 110 mph -- a noticeable improvement on the unblown version. Skidpad performance was curiously little changed at 0.87g, but handling, steering, and braking all drew wide praise.
Still, the V-Series treatment didn't change the XLR's comfortable touring-car persona; it only made for a faster, more agile tour. "As high-performance roadsters go," C/D concluded, "the XLR-V is quite well-suited to the quotidian requirements of your less-extreme motorist... has all the creature comforts technology can provide, and its unique mesh grille, supercharged badge and four shiny tailpipes tell everyone this Cadillac is a cut above. For those who think 100 grand is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a car, this Cadillac is certainly worth a look."
Next, we'll take a look at Cadillac's "crossover" SUV, the Cadillac SRX.
For more information on Cadillac, see:
- Cadillac: Learn the history of America's premier luxury car, from 1930s classics to today's newest Cadillac models.
- Consumer Guide New Car Reviews and Prices: Road test results, photos, specifications, and prices for 2007 Cadillacs and hundreds of other new cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs.
- 1990-1999 Cadillac: Import competition and a stale image rock once-proud Cadillac. Here's the low-down on Cadillac's come-down.