Car of the Year: No. 13: Cadillac XLR-V

<< Back to Robb Report, February 2007

Many U.S. Vehicles are masterpieces of compromise and elasticity—virtuous qualities in the realm of realpolitik but fatal flaws in that of automobile design. These mediocrities often come to us courtesy of a marketing culture whose inviolable dictates—formulated in the airless vanilla depths of consumer focus groups—reduce all revolutionary ideas to a palatable blandness. For this reason, Cadillac deserves credit for breaking away from the bland pack with its Cadillac XLR-V, a high-performance roadster with cutting-edge style and a motor equal to any, including those of the Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG and the Jaguar XKR.

The idea was a bold one: a $100,000 Cadillac endowed with a 443 hp, supercharged Northstar V-8 that propels the car from zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. Engineers retooled the STS-V engine to fit the XLR’s smaller Corvette platform, decreasing its displacement from 4.6 liters to 4.4, while adding hardier pistons and a squared-off bulge that runs down the center of the car’s hood to accommodate the supercharger. For the gearbox, they chose the 6L80, a 6-speed automatic transmission that delivers smooth shifts. Only the XLR-V’s appearance—a crisp-edged and glassy composition of sharp angles and lines—remained unchanged.

Although most of our judges approached the car with patriotic enthusiasm, this American entry—the Ford Shelby GT500 was the other—turned out to be more pretender than contender among the crowned hoods of Europe. Despite the engine’s formidable performance, the steering was soft and sluggish, while the tight suspension saluted every bump in the road. “It was not a fun car to drive,” confessed Bob Maron. “The steering and suspension are poorly engineered. I’m an old-school Cadillac enthusiast. But this is not a $100,000 sports car.” Thomas Detelich was more generous. “It’s the best Cadillac I’ve ever driven,” he said. “Good power and responsiveness. It just doesn’t match up to the [BMW] M6.”

Jamie May compared the car’s profile favorably to “classic sports cars of the ’60s,” but Bruce Meyer’s comments regarding the French-stitched leather interior reflect the sentiments of the majority of judges: “I wanted so much to like this car. But the fit and finish of the interior is sadly lacking, and that’s a heartfelt sadness.”

SPECIFICATIONS:

ENGINE: 4.4-liter, supercharged V-8
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed semiautomatic 
POWER: 443 hp at 6,400 rpm
TORQUE: 414 ft lbs at 3,900 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 3,810 pounds
LENGTH: 177.7 inches
ZERO-TO-60: 4.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155 mph (limited)
BASE PRICE: $98,300

From Around the Web...
 2018 Jaguar F-Type
The 2018 Jaguar F-Type now offers a wider range of power trains and tech features to choose from…
Lamborghini Huracán RWD Spyder
The recently released raging bull is a wilder ride than its all-wheel-drive counterpart…
Infiniti’s QX80 Monograph concept.
Revealed at the New York Auto Show, the vehicle displays the marque’s enlightened exterior design…
Porsche Design Tower Miami
We head to the opening of the Porsche Design Tower Miami for a ride in the famed Dezervator…
The 2015 McLaren P1 GTR being offered at the RM Sotheby's Villa Erba sale.
A McLaren P1 GTR, a Ferrari LaFerrari, and Porsche 918 Spyder to be offered at Villa Erba sale…
The Fittipaldi EF7 VGT by Pininfarina
The coachbuilder teamed with renowned racer Emerson Fittipaldi to create the carbon-fiber...
Jaguar and Bentley are among the marques charging ahead on all-electric cars and concepts…
The Callaway Corvette Aerowagen Shooting Brake
The performance package gives the car 757 hp and a rear hatch…
The Rickman Revival Velocette
The three-day celebration of beautiful bikes will also feature a Wall of Death stunt show…
The Audi R8 LMS GT4
Based off the R8 Coupe, the car will be eligible to compete in motorsports’ GT4 category worldwide…