Alot of folks didn’t take Cadillac seriously when it promised to enhance its products and image to take a realistic run at luxury imports such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and the rest.
The first external sign — though most didn’t recognize it at the time — was the angular, edgy Evoq concept car that debuted at Detroit’s NAIAS in January, 1999. A Stealth-Fighterstyled two-seat roadster, Evoq was a signal that GM Design was beginning to emerge from its decade of doldrums. But few believed GM would actually produce such a car.
Believe it! This stunning 2004 XLR luxoroadster is the direct descendant of Evoq. It will be followed closely by the ‘04 SRX “crossover,” a strong challenger to Mercedes, BMW and Lexus SUVs. An all-new STS sedan follows on the same Sigma architecture for ’05.
|The intricate folding top is supplied by CTS, the company that designs tops for Mercedes, Porsche and Ferrari. ||The interior is classic Cadillac charm with rich leather and wood accents.|
|XLR’s styling builds on the simplistic elegance of the Evoq concept vehicle.|
|Though XLR shares a platform with Corvette, power comes from Cadillac in the guise of a 4.6L 32- valve, 320 hp Northstar V-8.|
Compared to M-B’s SL500, Jaguar’s XK8 and Lexus’ SC430, XLR has the longest wheelbase, lowest height, widest track and highest horsepower. Due to its “patented performance car architecture,” shared with the next-generation C-6 Corvette — enclosed structural tunnel, hydroformed steel perimeter frame rails, aluminum cockpit structure and balsa-cored composite floors — it’s also the lightest of the four at a surprisingly svelte 3,647 lbs. At 5.9 seconds 0-60, it’s about a second quicker than the Mercedes, a half-second better than the Jag and essentially tied with the Lexus.
Its new 4.6L DOHC 32-valve Northstar V-8 boasts continuously variable valve timing (VVT), a highly rigid aluminum block and a healthy 320 hp vs. the Mercedes’ 302, the Lexus’ 300 and the Jag’s 298. Yet it delivers 23 mpg EPA combined economy vs. the Lexus’ 20, the Jaguar’s 19.6 and the Mercedes’ 18.3. It drives the rear wheels through a highly advanced 5-speed automatic transmission, rear-mounted for nearly 50/50 weight distribution. Suspension is double wishbones and transverse composite leaf springs front and rear, aided by GM’s Magnetic Ride Control, which uses electronically controlled, magnetic- fluid-based real-time damping to adjust damping five times faster than previous “real-time” systems. Magnasteer variable- effort steering and StabiliTrak stability enhancement complete the XLR’s leading- edge dynamic technology package. It feels fantastic on the road at any speed and generates an impressive 0.9 g’s on a skidpad on Michelin ZP high-performance run-flat tires. XLR’s interior may be GM’s modern best — beautifully trimmed in eucalyptus wood and aluminum and surprisingly roomy due to the rear-mounted transmission. And it is a completely keyless car. With the fob in your pocket or purse, you can open doors and trunk via touch pads and start the engine with a button on the dash. Without it, you can’t. Adaptive cruise control maintains your preferred interval, warns of objects in your lane and is monitored through a graphic in the headup display. The retractable hardtop unlatches, separates into multiple sections, then folds neatly under a hard cover in 29 seconds. Assembled on a new separate line at the Bowling Green, Ky., Corvette plant, XLR is priced strategically at $76,200, everything included except XM Satellite radio. EPA economy is 17 city, 25 highway.
|The bold Cadillac style works well in SUV form.|
Thanks to its low center of gravity and the same set of advanced chassis systems standard on XLR — 4-channel StabiliTrak, speed-sensitive variable-effort steering, 4- channel ABS with Panic Brake Assist and traction control and available Magnetic ride control (a segment first) — SRX is astoundingly capable both on-road and off and in any weather.
The entertainment system is mounted between the seats, allowing for the installation of a sunroof.
SRX pricing begins at $37,995 with the V- 6, $46,300 with the V-8. EPA economy (preliminary) is 18 city, 23 highway for the RWD V- 6, 16/18 for the AWD V-8. It will be built alongside CTS at GM’s new the state-of-theart Lansing, Mich., facility.
|The plush leather and woodgrain interior is all Cadillac.|
|Underseat storage is a nice touch.|