What's New for 2006
The XLR-V is a new performance variant of the XLR luxury roadster. Associated upgrades include a supercharged V8, upgraded suspension and braking hardware, bigger wheels, body enhancements and special interior trim.
Slowly but surely, Cadillac is changing its image from a company that builds stodgy, old people's cars to a brand that offers exclusivity, style and a little attitude. If the XLR can't drive that point home, maybe nothing can. The XLR shares the same basic platform as the sixth-generation Chevrolet Corvette. Normally, carmakers are eager to distance themselves from the platform-sharing formula, but with the XLR, Cadillac is eager to talk up the car's origins. Company officials say it's a luxury roadster with performance car roots and who can blame them?
Cadillac is further upping the ante in 2006 with the XLR-V. Like the CTS-V and STS-V, this is a dedicated performance version focused around a vastly more powerful engine. In the XLR-V's case, the engine happens to be a supercharged version of the Northstar V8. To create it, Cadillac's engineers redesigned every major component, reduced the engine's displacement from 4.6 liters to 4.4 liters and dialed back its compression ratio to a more boost-friendly 9.0 to 1. Then, they engineered and patented a unique induction system. The air enters the supercharger from the rear, passes through its spinning vanes from the bottom, is cooled by a top-mounted intercooler and then does a complete 180 before heading down the long runners of the intake manifold. It all fits neatly under the XLR-V's bulging hood and cranks horsepower from a normal 320 to a mouthwatering 443. According to Cadillac, the XLR-V can tick off 60 mph in fewer than 5 seconds. A six-speed automatic transmission with a manual sequential-shift feature transfers that power to the Cad's 19-inch rear wheels and fat Pirelli run-flat tires. Upgraded cross-drilled brakes and a retuned version of the Magnetic Ride Control suspension are also part of the package. Inside the cockpit, one will find Zingana wood trim and Ebony leather with French stitching and perforated suede fabric inserts. On the outside, there's no missing the tasteful metal mesh grilles, domed hood, special wheel design, deeper front spoiler and quad exhaust tips.
There's no doubt that the V-Series enhancements make this roadster a much more desirable package. If this was the car that Cadillac debuted in 2004 for the same price as the regular XLR, it would have been a fantastic coup de grace. But as it is, the XLR-V's price premium puts it in very close company with the Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG. And, pitted nose-to-nose, the Mercedes is the better and more prestigious car. Still, Cadillac's roadster is a solid luxury sport roadster and worth a look if you want to pull up to the valet circle in something a little different.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The XLR-V is available as a two-door, two-seat roadster only. Its retractable hardtop is power-operated and goes from open to closed in about 30 seconds. Virtually every luxury feature comes standard, including a navigation system, traction control, stability control, adaptive high-intensity discharge headlights, rear parking sensors, headlamp washers, dual-zone climate control, a 250-watt sound system with an in-dash CD changer and a 7-inch touchscreen for driver information, entertainment and navigation system control. The XLR-V boasts an upscale cabin complete with Zingana wood trim and aluminum accents in addition to special leather upholstery.
Powertrains and Performance
The heart of the XLR-V is a supercharged 4.4-liter V8. It produces 443 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 414 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission that features manual-shift control. Expect a 0-to-60-mph time of fewer than 5 seconds.
The XLR-V comes with a host of safety features, most designed to keep the car from getting into an accident in the first place. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes and stability control are standard, as are side airbags. Because the XLR-V is a two-seater, the passenger-side front airbag can be switched off to accommodate children in safety seats.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the XLR-V aims for simple elegance. Clean-looking but certainly not bland, the XLR's interior is modern and warm. Standard features include such gee-whiz technology as a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, a voice-activated DVD navigation system, heated and cooled seats, plus optional XM radio and a Bose audio system. The touchscreen is mounted high in the center stack and helps keep the dash uncluttered by eliminating the need for numerous single-use buttons.
With its significant bump in horsepower over the regular XLR, the XLR-V is vastly more responsive. Dipping the throttle is all that's required for dispatching slow-moving traffic. Push harder and the XLR-V bellows forth on a wave of supercharged torque. The XLR-V, while possessing a sportier setup, is still tuned for a balanced approach toward performance and luxury. And, alas, this is something that the Mercedes SL55 AMG, with its high-tech suspension, pulls off more successfully. Part of the problem is an overly large steering wheel that makes the XLR-V feel a bit ponderous, but at least the level of steering assist isn't overly aggressive. At highway speeds wind buffeting is intrusive with the top down, but not so much that it deters from the XLR-V's otherwise exemplary all-around performance.