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V signs all round in the Cadillac XLR-V. Image by Cadillac.

V signs all round in the Cadillac XLR-V
Not to sound too patriotic, but in the V-Series XLR Cadillac, America has produced one of the few legitimate competitors to the uber-coupe Benz SL55.

   



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Not to sound too patriotic, but in the V-Series XLR Cadillac, America has produced one of the few legitimate competitors to the uber-coupe Benz SL55.

$100,000 (56,400 as I write this) seemed too high a tariff before I spent a day with the beast on the sinuous back roads east of San Diego. What I found was a ferociously competent chassis/driveline combo, sheathed in the sexy wrapper that the Cadillac Evoq concept car promised at the 1999 Detroit Auto Show. Perhaps there was 'value' here after all.

Yeah, verily it's a few tenths slower to sixty (4.6 compared to 4.3 in the Benz), but when the exhaust bypass valve opens and your right foot-conducted orchestra starts playing, the last thing you'll long for is a three pointed star on the steering boss. The supercharged Northstar V8 is a gem; quick revving and refined when appropriate, bellowing and blustery when the mood takes you. The amount of development work that went into its conversion to forced induction is too long to detail; suffice it to say that this is one of the nicest powertrains I've experienced. The new six-speed automatic gearbox is an essential partner to the 443bhp/414lb.ft engine, serving up perfect upshifts in all modes and matching revs as you drop down through the ratios manually.

It's in the chassis department that 'V' really stands for victory over the Germans though. Because the Cadillac XLR's architecture is shared with the Corvette's, it is lighter and tighter then the competition. All the SL's extra torque can't do much to disguise the extra 180kg it has to shift between corners. Like Ali vs. Foreman, the XLR is much quicker on its feet, transitioning with alacrity and precision, drifting beautifully (it sure doesn't hurt that Cadillac offers a proper 'Off' switch for the traction control, though the Competition Mode is perfect for the public road), yet offering excellent bump absorption and body control thanks to its magnetic damping (which Ferrari only now crows on about on the new 599).

The Cadillac XLR's interior can't match that of the Mercedes-Benz, despite the French-stitched dash top and other upgrades to the V. And airflow management top-down is inferior. Of course, the Cadillac is $30,000 (about 17,000) less than the SL55. And you won't see one every day, unlike the nigh-ubiquitous SL. In answer to the question, "What price exclusivity?" the answer is dependent on where you reside. Here in the States, it's thirty-large still in your pocket; The Car Enthusiast readers may will have to put up with the fact that it's a left-hooker for now. At least with the launch of the new Cadillac BLS there is some hope for more right-sided Caddies in the future.

Isaac Bouchard - 20 Apr 2006



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2006 Cadillac XLR-V. Image by Cadillac.2006 Cadillac XLR-V. Image by Cadillac.2006 Cadillac XLR-V. Image by Cadillac.2006 Cadillac XLR-V. Image by Cadillac.2006 Cadillac XLR-V. Image by Cadillac.



2006 Cadillac XLR-V. Image by Cadillac.
 

2006 Cadillac XLR-V. Image by Cadillac.
 

2006 Cadillac XLR-V. Image by Cadillac.
 






 

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