By on March 28, 2007

cadillac-xlr-v-007.jpgA commentator named Peakay recently posed a pointed question: “Do you guys like anything?” While there are plenty of positive reviews hereabouts, I understand Peakey’s frustration. When ttac.com publishes a rash of reviews describing nasty looking, badly built, dynamically dim-witted vehicles, the negativity eats away at this car lover’s soul. Which made the prospect of reviewing the Cadillac XLR-V a daunting proposition. I really wanted to like this car.

Walking up to the XLR-V did nothing to dampen my anticipation, and much to increase it. The roadster is the only Caddy that doesn’t wear the brand’s “Art and Science” motif like an aging prostitute sporting a K-Mart pants suit. The XLR-V’s creased fiberglass strikes the perfect balance between edgy aggression and proportional elegance. The model-specific hood strakes and wire mesh grill add welcome wickedness to a minimalist masterpiece.

cadillac-xlr-v-018.jpgThis is one of the few convertibles that sings the same siren song whether the lid’s fitted or flipped. With the hardtop deployed, the XLR-V offers more chop top chic than Chrysler’s gangsta 300C. With the top down, it’s sexy enough to run with ze Germans and Jags of the world. Either way, the XLR-V is confidently Cadillac, without resorting to Elvis-era clichés (although the taillight design pokes fun at the whole fin thing). If only the other Caddies had such great bones.

I’d like to say I walked up to the XLR-V and discovered one of the smoothest paint jobs you’ll find outside of Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance. I’d like to say that the XLR-V’s trunk hinges were free from duct taped wiring and an exposed fuse, and that the teeny tiny little trunk (sausage shaped and smaller than ONE of the Boxster’s boots) wasn’t covered in the same rat fur blighting last week’s DTS. Unfortunately, the XLR-V put OCD boy right back in bean counted Hell.

x07ca_xl006.jpgDamn my eyes! Niggling little faults I wouldn’t even think to check in a Mercedes SL clamored for my attention. The driver’s portal slammed shut with a resounding thunk– and the panel housing the window switches vibrated independently of the door. The disappearing tin top performed an artful ballet– with all the jerkiness of an arthritis sufferer tying his shoes. The Zingana (son of Zebrano?) wood surrounding the shifter was silken to the touch– and looked like a faded panel from my parent’s old rec room.

Although iPoditude and Bluetoothedness are MIA, there are toys aplenty, including a way cool head-up display. Still, there’s no getting around it: the XLR-V’s interior is a little, um, cheap. The plastic speedo bezel emblazoned Bulgari is more airport duty free than Fifth Avenue swank. The material surrounding the vents is ew-inducing. How much would it have cost to upgrade the convertible’s cabin materials, or provide some chairs with a bit more lateral bolstering than a La-Z-Boy recliner?

cadillac-xlr-v-006.jpgCadillac apologists are free to deploy the old Ferrari defense: Caddy sells you an engine and throws in the car for free. Even before the supercharger kicks in, it’s clear the XLR-V’s 443-horse 4.4-liter Northstar V8 is a serous torquemeister. Tickle the go-pedal and the big Caddy gently kneels on your lower back. Floor it and mayhem is your co-pilot. The XLR-V accelerates from zero to sixty in 4.6 seconds and hits the quarter in 13. Do you believe in muscle cars Miss Turner? WELL YOU’RE IN ONE.

This much is clear the moment you throw the 4000lbs. drop top into some curves. With 19” rubber and Magnetic Ride Control at all four corners, the XLR-V stays flat, level and griptastic deep into lateral G-land. But unless the pavement is glassine, confidence is low. Over broken pavement, the XLR-V has no natural handling fluency whatsoever. You could just wrestle the beast around the bends (in the great muscle car tradition)– if those support challenged seats didn’t make it such a supremely uncomfortable exercise.

x07ca_xl00733.jpgBetter then, to just stunt and floss and drag race from time to time. And believe me, I’m down with that. The XLR-V is a bit rough around the edges and it ain’t no sports car, but the hardtop drop top looks like a genuine Cadillac and goes like Hell. What's more, the XLR-V has an X-factor, an appeal that can't be measured or rationalized. If only it cost $25k less.

Yes, there is that. At $100k all-in, the most expensive Cadillac ever is a joke. The similarly-priced Mercedes SL550 is better-looking, better-built, better-handling, far more practical (its trunk is cavernous in comparison), offers less at-speed top down turbulence, doesn’t depreciate like a stone thrown into a deep dark well and isn’t that much slower.

cadillac-xlr-v-004.jpgCadillac should have priced the XLR-V lower or pulled-out all the stops and built a world beater. They did neither and paid the price. (Which is more than you can say for their potential consumers.) That said, I can understand those few hundred people who bought an XLR-V. It's another GM "almost car," but it IS a Cadillac. 

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79 Comments on “Cadillac XLR-V Review...”


  • avatar
    shaker

    Funny.. a dealer in one of your sponsored links is offering an ’06 with 6000 miles for $74k… now THAT’S depreciation! (still 50k high for me, though.) A very fine looking beast, though; the mesh grille is much less garish than the Caddy eggcrate.

  • avatar
    Dayveo

    For years Cadillac has been the only american brand doing anything progressive in the style department. For that reason critizising “Art and Science” seems pretty outrageous. Did you prefer the “Home for the Elderly” on wheels look that came before?

    I for one wish that they had played up Art & Science even more with this car. From what i hear the next gen of Cadillacs will be toned down significantly and that really worries me. We’ll see…

  • avatar

    Dayveo:

    I wasn’t criticizing “Art and Science.” I was criticizing its implementation in Caddy’s other models (How silly is the Escalade?).

    I’m praising it here. On the XLR-V it works.

  • avatar
    tones03

    I am a huge fan of the looks, I like it better the the Mercedes, takes the looks a little edgy and less safe and at a $100k it is a steal compared to everything else it competes against.

    The cheap interior doesnt bother me, looks good and it is user friendly (no iDrive or w/e Mercedes has.) There is no excuse though for the trunk trim and non-supportive seats in a performance car.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    Does anyone really LIKE heads up displays? On a long journey I find them distracting and then thoroughly annoying. Price apart, that feature alone would “unsell” me in a hurry.

    It’s hard to believe, but 40% of the people who buy a new car never drive their intended before purchasing it.

    That’s where most of the sales will be made for this one.

  • avatar

    tones03:

    A steal compared to the Mercedes SL500? Uh, I don’t think so.

    The Jaguar XK or XKR? Similar depreciation, different look; I’d hardly say the Caddy blows it away.

    A Porsche Carrera Cabriolet? It may look like a suppository in comparison, but it’s better built, depreciates less and it’ll run rings around the XLR-V in the corners.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Now that GM is putting direct injection in their 3.6L V6, it puts out 300hp. I wonder if Caddy could see their way to putting that engine in a $40-45K XLR.

    Who knows, add a clutch, seat bolsters and a trunk mat, and you might have something…

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    tones03:

    Cheap interior is OK in a $100k car??? You have GOT to be kidding me!!!

    I’m looking forward to a review of the ’08 CTS. Caddy has got to get this car right. The CTS is akin to BMW’s 3 Series in terms of establishing Caddy’s rep as making a serious sports machine.

    BTW, the flip side of Caddy ridiculous depreciation rates is the values to be had on the used car market. The CTS-V may be a flawed car at $50k, but a 2 yr old CTS-V with low miles can be had around $35k. That makes the CTS one of the better used sports sedan values around. Interestingly, the flaws in the $50k vehicle don’t seem to matter as much at $35k! lol!

  • avatar
    tcwarnke

    Great car, overpriced…

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    I have not driven an XLR-V but I think it is fair to say that Robert has hit the nail on the head here. It is an “almost” car. While I don’t think a Caddy needs to run with a Porsche (GM has Corvettes to do that) it does have to hold its own against the Mercedes, BMW’s and Jags out there. A subpar interior in a $100K car? People who buy this car notice these kinds of things! It can’t handle? I hope the Corvette team came over and beat the Caddy team with a stick for ruining their platform!

    While I can (and do) forgive GM for a multitude of sins for cutting corners in other vehicles, they should not do it in what is arguably their most aspirational vehicle.

    To end on a positive note, like the Jag XK when a XLR comes into view it stops traffic like SL’s and 6-Series only wish they could.

  • avatar
    tones03

    I am saying i dont mind the “cheap” interior on this car, I think it looks great and is very functional. Saying it was ok was poor choice of wording, but it still doesnt bother me.

    Robert: I would not put this in the same league as a Porsche, if I wanted something to handle like a Porsche, I would buy a Vette. In the “luxury” roadster class, this is a great vehicle. I was also talking about the SL55 AMG, performs closer to the V series. Which at 30k less is a great deal.

    Looks wise is a personal opinion, I like the sharp edges over the rounded ones on certain vehicles, and this is one.

    I also think the “Slade” is one of the best looking SUV’s on the road. Much better then uni-brow Navigator and the outdated Lexus.

  • avatar
    Luther

    “Cadillac should have priced the XLR-V lower or pulled-out all the stops and built a world beater. They did neither and paid the price.”

    Why…Cant…Are they…Cant they see this? Still the GM Accounting Corporation that shoots for the moon with a .22 rifle.

    I would own an SL550 if I weren’t such a cheap fishfeces. Wish the SL550 would depreciate like a Caddy.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    I genuinely like the looks of this machine. But am I the only one who has the urge to grab a large wooden spatula and begin making fudge when I see the slab-like rear deck when the top is down?

  • avatar

    Luther:

    If you want to know why Cadillac couldn’t lower the price, head on over to Frank William’s union editorial (http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=3392)

    If you want to know why they didn’t “go for it,” look at GM’s culture. A luxury brand within a mass market automaker. In America, that equation just doesn’t seem to work out.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    i am not sure why one would buy one of these things over a vette – which it essentially IS – and the vette is like half the price. I saw one once in a supermarket parking lot – it seemed – well like it was a vete in really obvious drag.. kinda uncomfortably comical, like you dont know if its serious or all dressed up like for a party.

  • avatar
    fellswoop

    I suppose it was inevitable, but car design is actually getting to the point now where I (traditionally a big fan of cool wheels) think that the wheels on this vehicle look too big.

    It looks kinda “donked”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donk_%28automobile%29)

    I like the styling otherwise, and as usual, I’m bummed that GM couldn’t quite make it a complete package.

  • avatar
    John

    My stereotypical Cadillac driver likes to drive his to the golf course. If so, that small trunk may be a killer.

    John

  • avatar
    jurisb

    caddy wants to drive chick of kimono, artisan nuances of interior sophistication, yet drives it bumping into hillbilly seams of finish.exterior looks empty. having nice , skinny ( too skinny for 21st century) proportions,it has poverty of details on front part, and the same goes for sides, empty and boring as if some chrome handles or claddings were ripped off. the same goes for the interior. too many parts have gaps, or are made of subpar plastic. and what the hell is this huge football field of black plastic where in the middle stands cd slot? is this place where to stick m3 post-on notes like on a fridge.luxury is about detailing not stuffing expensive materials only. so guys at gm , before you push your employees with timetables( no time, no money, should be ready yesterday), maybe you should push your engineers with gap tolerances. the problem is that the audience for duty truck and caddy xlr are pretty different. caddies are driven by rich people, mostly with BA or MA , that know how to make a knot on their ties. and they are picky- on details especially. if gm wants to avoid 11 (not sptember, but chapter)then they should start pushing their caddies into 9 of fit and finish column in motor trend magazine. make it done faster and better never fits together.teach your engineers to make precision moulds. people STILL buy caddy because it`s american ( otherwise they wouldn`t rebadge daewoos as chevy`s ,would they?)SO APPEALING TO AMERICAN, maybe make american caddies, not opel omega chassis derivatives tuned up by aussies with aisin gearboxes, bosch electronics( well, would live with that) as your new cts. you know where is rover( honda union jack rebadge)- it is chines roewe. i am afraid if gm doesn`t change, you might hit cadillaceve. more stress on eve. and for gods sake weld those 2 northstars together and roll that 16 cyl caddy coupe( that you have in plastiline mock-up) out to prototyping.elbowgrease is the password. lunatics@inbox.lv

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    Jon wrote: My stereotypical Cadillac driver likes to drive his to the golf course. If so, that small trunk may be a killer.

    I imagine that the driver of this car will just drive up to the valet, toss the keyfob and walk the twelve steps to the starter. The starter will snap his fingers and the golf cart already loaded with golf clubs, freshly buffed golf shoes and bottled water will be driven over for the golfer to begin his round.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Yeah, Buick has taken over the “3 golfer/bag/ guests at a friend’s country club” gig.

  • avatar
    tones03

    “maybe make american caddies, not opel omega chassis derivatives tuned up by aussies with aisin gearboxes, bosch electronics( well, would live with that) as your new cts.”

    I think you are mistaken, It is on the sigma platform, designed and engineered in America, the Zeta has not came here yet. Also every company is full of supplier electronics.

  • avatar

    Top up, the XLR’s trunk is 11.6 cubic feet, allegedly enough to hold 2 golf bags. Top down there’s only 4.4 cubic feet. Cadillac says that’s enough room to fit a small golf bag in the trunk. I have a feeling the emphasis is on “small.”

    And on the topic of the trunk, have any of you seen how the trunk on this thing opens? Instead of doing like Mercedes et al and designing the trunk so it hinges from the bumper to accept the top but opens conventionally for luggage, the trunk lid opens conventionally but then lifts and moves away from the body enough for the folded top to slip under the front edge.

    Not only does this look awkward, if it’s raining when you open the trunk, the deck lid dumps whatever water is on it directly into the trunk and onto whatever you have in there.

    Simply put, it’s a really dumb design.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    Personally, I like the design of the XLR much better than the blowfish design of the SL. While the SL has plenty of chintzy cost-cutting (cheap plastic slats on the hood for example,) it doesn’t excuse Cadillac for dropping a last-gen GM partsbin interior into a $100k car. This car should demonstrate Cadillac’s ability to produce a world-class car. However, it’s Caddy’s cheapest car that has successfully done that. Wrong strategy.

  • avatar
    tones03

    Frank, I think they did the top design for show more then anything because GM used the mercedes design on a $25k G6, I think the XLR motion looks cool, but never had to use it so I dont really know about functionality.

  • avatar
    miked

    jurisb: “…maybe you should push your engineers with gap tolerances.”

    It’s not that the engineers are designing the car with big tolerances by default. They’re choosing the big tolerances because of budget constraints. NICKNICK can give us real numbers, but my feeling is that manufacturing cost increases exponentially as tolerances are tightened. So because of other costs, GM can’t afford the tight tolerances that other companies do.

    Now here’s what really bothers me. I can see having wide open panel gaps and duct taped wiring on a Caviler (um Colbalt) when you’re making 100,000′s a year and selling them for under $20K. The manufacturing costs built up quickly when you’re making a ton of cars. But really how many XLR-V’s is GM making? Can’t be that many, I’ve yet to see one and I live in a pretty affluent area. I’m sure that the difference in costs in making a tight-toleranced high-quality plastic interior vs. standard GM interior wouldn’t have been a big deal on a $100K car. If I were the kind that would even consider paying $100K for a car, I’d pay $100,100 for a nice interior. (and I bet the nice interior wouldn’t even be $100 more.)

  • avatar
    tony-e30

    Think not of the XLR-V trunk as a place to stow golf clubs or luggage, but rather as a place to stow hard toppage and you get the idea. There really is no space for a golf bag with the top down.

  • avatar

    I like the car but you’re right…waaay overpriced.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    miked is right–the tighter the tolerance required, the more parts cost to make because additional processing, such as otherwise unnecessary machining, is needed. you also have to account for increased scrap–that is a huge cost driver.

    in my experience, there is often a huge disconnect between design engineers and manufacturing. often a textbook says that a lathe is capable of easily holding +/- .003″, so by golly, that’s what the part tolerance is going to be on the blueprint, even if the part is something completely functionless and decorative. lots of wasted money there.

    molded plastics such as in car interiors can be tricky due to shrinkage–consistent mold and plastic temperatures are a must. because there are so many parts in a car, everything must be designed properly from the beginning. think of it this way: if you have a dozen 1 inch blocks that are supposed to fit inside a space defined as 12″ +/- .100″, what happens if each block is defined as 1″ +/- .1″? your total size can be anywhere between 11.8″ and 13.2″–THAT’s how you end up with huge gaps–trying to account for all possible sizes of each individual part.

    this is a management issue–there needs to be more communication between the art designers, mechanical design engineers, and manufacturing engineers. there often wouldn’t need to be cheezy plastic trim pieces to hide gaps and such if *everyone* got involved early enough to come up with pretty designs that can actually be produced at a reasonable price.

    management needs to get designers and engineers together, and then get the heck out of the way. bean counting comes last–if the engineering is done properly, there’s a lot less to worry about. the beans will come rolling in.

  • avatar
    shaker

    If not for golf, well it may be the car for mid-life extra-marital affairs…
    Anyway, there seems to be a little Allante in the interior layout, though a bit less “angular”.

  • avatar
    Infamous Dr. X

    I tend to agree with CS Johnston & Blue Adidas.

    I’ve seen a few XLRs and one or two XLR-Vs on I-93/I-95 in the Boston area, and it definitely turns heads. Truly a stand-out design. It’s just so different than everything else out there, and different in a good way. Blue’s comments about the “blowfish” ring true. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I think Cadillac’s angular motif is pretty refreshing.

    I’ve always been a fan of Caddy and always wanted one (must be the old man Italian in me). Unfortunately (and not like I have $100K sitting around to blow on a car, but even if I did) I don’t know that I’d get one of these, as beautiful as it is. Maybe in a few years when the 06s and 07s have depreciated by 72%…

  • avatar
    tincanman99

    Never particularly liked the diamonds styling or whatever they called it. It kind of reminds me of a stealth fighter. All angles and high tech but I would not call it a pretty car by any means.

    As for 100K for a Cadillac you got to be kidding me. First off its a GM car and has all the favorite GM attributes:

    Crappy interior: check (go study Audi, please)
    Chassis from somewhere else: Check
    Strange styling: Check
    Cheapness in the details: Check
    Fake wood: Check
    Uncomfortable seats: Check

    I have a hard time believing that this car will woo the average BMW/Porsche/Mercedes owner. I wonder who the Cadillac brand appeals to? I dont associate the Cadillac logo with engineering, prestige or money. Now elderly people, yep. I doubt many of my generation do.

    Not feeling the love.

  • avatar
    tones03

    tincanman99: on the chassis from somewhere else, how is this a bad thing? And every other car company does it. Just want to know.

  • avatar
    TeeKay

    I like the XLR-V. It’s one of the best looking domestic on the market. And there’s always a soft-spot in my anti-domestic heart for Caddies. BUT THE DAMNED THING IS OVERPRICED!

    At $100K, my choices include:

    1. The aforementined Mercedes SL500 (which I don’t like, but still represents a MUCH better buy than the XLR-V)

    2. BMW 6-series cab (about $10-20k cheaper)

    3. BMW M6 cab(V10, 500hp)

    4. Maserati cab (Ferrari-made engine & that interior!)

    5. Jag XK-R cab (still cheaper, but with better interior)

    6. Porsche 911 S or 911 4S cab (not a better interior, but the performance)

    7. AND, the Corvette Z06 (supercar performance & same interior and heads-up display @ $30k discount)

    Tell me if there is an idiot out there that would take the XLR-V over these alternatives.

    NOW, if it is sold at $60k, start a waitlist and write down the orders.

  • avatar

    NICKNICK said: “…this is a management issue…there often wouldn’t need to be cheezy plastic trim pieces to hide gaps and such if *everyone* got involved early enough…”

    “management needs to get…the heck out of the way…if the engineering is done properly…the beans will come rolling in.”

    IMHO, that’s the truth.
    Here’s just one example:

    (From Wards Auto) The “he” the author mentions is a senior vice president of procurement at Honda).

    “Plant yourself in the front seat of a Honda vehicle – from an entry-level Civic to the sporty and luxurious ’04 Acura TL – and it’s hard to find fault with the interior.”

    “While seated in the driver’s seat of the [‘04] TL, he runs his finger along the dashboard, along the top of the glovebox door.” Look at this fit right here and that crucial line,” where the glovebox door closes against the dashboard:

    “The supplier and our [factory] team worked together and ended up redesigning the process months before the mass-production launch to make sure we could keep this tolerance on this radius here.”

    The glovebox supplier ultimately installed a secondary work station with a cooling fixture to ensure Honda could maintain the tolerance. Part of the challenge–as with any glovebox–is that it’s a moving part, made of plastic.

    “When you mold plastic, it has a tendency after it cools to move. To get the mold right and to get the tooling fixture exactly right is where that challenge is.

    We probably had four Honda people stationed at the supplier working with them hand in hand for months to perfect that process.”

    As he studies the seam a bit closer, he realizes it’s not quite right: With the glovebox closed, the seam along the door is not uniform. It’s slightly wider at one end of the glovebox than at the other. Even Honda can’t guarantee perfection.

    He admits the gap is troubling and will begin an investigation. “I’m going to find out when this car was made,” he says.

    “This (gap) may not be from the supplier. This could be in-house. Is that within tolerance? I don’t know. Do I like the way it looks? Do you like the way it looks? No. It should be seamless.”

    Despite the seam on that particular model, the design aspects of the TL glovebox will be applied to other Honda and Acura vehicles.”

    “’Making it right means the ultimate customer is the one saying it’s right.’”

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    I think it is worth mentioning that the XLR-V regardless of what we think about the packaging is not targeted against the stock versions of the SL, 6-Series, XK, etc.

    The stock XLR, which has all the right bits and pieces (execution aside) is a proper point of comparison for those vehicles.

    As for whether the XLR is attractive to a younger buyer or not, what kind of buyer are we talking about?

    If you’ve got $100K to drop on a car you’re either (A) in your salad days (50+) (B) a trustfundinista (C) a well-deserving young entrepeneur (D) a pro athelete or celeb (E) a criminal.

    I would say that someone in their late 40′s or early 50′s who was not a lemming (ie. gotta buy something European or I’ll be laughed at) might consider this car.

    We know what the pro jocks think of Caddy.

    I could care less what the idle rich think and that’s an oxymoron anyway.

    Young entrepreneurs, since I am jealous of them or until I become one, have no taste.

    Criminals, since I am jealous of them or until I become one, have no taste.

    Would I buy one? Even if the Caddy was remotely in my price range, no. Not when I can have just as much fun in the mostly-wonderful CTS-V for half the price… and the kids can come too.

  • avatar
    tones03

    CSJohnston: Well said!

  • avatar
    ktm

    “But really how many XLR-V’s is GM making? Can’t be that many, I’ve yet to see one and I live in a pretty affluent area.”

    and

    “1. The aforementined Mercedes SL500 (which I don’t like, but still represents a MUCH better buy than the XLR-V)

    2. BMW 6-series cab (about $10-20k cheaper)

    3. BMW M6 cab(V10, 500hp)

    4. Maserati cab (Ferrari-made engine & that interior!)

    5. Jag XK-R cab (still cheaper, but with better interior)

    6. Porsche 911 S or 911 4S cab (not a better interior, but the performance)

    7. AND, the Corvette Z06 (supercar performance & same interior and heads-up display @ $30k discount)

    Tell me if there is an idiot out there that would
    take the XLR-V over these alternatives.”

    I live in one of the most affluent areas in the county (Orange County, CA). I live in Lake Forest, a community adjacent to Irvine, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. I see more Lambo’s, Ferrari’s, Mercedes AMG’s, M5′s, M6′s, Porsche’s, Maserati’s, Bentley’s, Aston’s, etc. than I have XLRs.

    It’s clear to me that people with money are not buying these things and for a good reason.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Ebay motors posted an 06 XLR-V sale for $65.5k with 7200mi. Steep depreciation indeed.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I would be very surprised if ANY of the following has 10K in sales in the US: M6 cab, SL55, SL600, Maserati cab, XK-R cab, 911 4S cab.

  • avatar
    adehus

    I think the XLR is a fairly nicely executed design with a few minor exceptions. The proportions are dead on, and the 'art & science' (or whatever the hell they're calling it) styling has never looked better. Unfortunately, though, the detailing is subpar- the tail lamps push the angular motif into Flash Gordon territory, and the headlights look awfully undistinguished for a car costing $100k. Still, not bad.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    ktm,

    While I don’t live in Orange County (hopefully it is not populated by the type of people depicted in the movie of the same name) I too, live in an area where there is a lot of wealth and a lot of new, young wealth at that.

    My city is rotten with BMW 3-Series (as common as the cold), Range Rovers, Mercedes, etc too. However, I would propose that many of these brands’ sales are due to the groupthink, not because they are vastly superior products.

    Besides most people I know who purchase these vehicles are more interested in the badge on the hood as opposed to what’s underneath it.

    How will I look at the club? How will I look at work? Will my peers give me the thumbs up or will I have to actually explain my purchase?

    The luxury dealers know this, play on this and leverage it to the hilt. Of all dealers they are more ready to sneer at you if you dare think someone else has something as good as what’s on their showroom floor.

    I’ve said in previous comments that Caddy needed to put more effort into the details of this model but I would never call anyone an idiot for buying one, in fact, I would call them independent thinkers.

    Cadillac once had the same brand cachet as the brands you outline, just as BMW once had far less appeal than it does now.

    Nothing is static.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Cadillacs that have been successful have always been more about the engine than the accoutrements surrounding it; from the wonderful V12 and V16 engines of the 1930s, to the Ketterling-inspired overhead valve V8s of the period from 1949 through (about) 1970, and even the behemoth 500 cubic-inch engine in some Eldorados of the Seventies. The dark period started in 1980 (or so) and continued until the debut of the Northstar DOHC V8 in 1993.

    This car was supposed to be one that didn’t follow a path down the tubes that the Allante did. It sounds as if there’s hope here; but maybe the heads of Cadillac need to worry less about counting beans and more about competing the Mercedes-Benz SL series, in terms of fit, finish and overall industrial design. That was their target with the Allante, and while they’ve gotten closer, it is still the elusive target indeed.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    You can put the golf clubs in the passenger seat. If you come home with this thing, your wife has already left you anyway.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    SherbornSean: I would be very surprised if the XLR-V has a single sale anywhere else. (excluding gifts to Saudis)

  • avatar
    Wheely

    $100K?

    Makes the Tesla Roadster look like a steal!

    Sorry – had to say it.

  • avatar
    peakay

    Robert: Great and balanced review. I won’t even add a comment about *still* not liking anything…

    I DO live in OC and right smack in NB. I have seen one, but they are rare. I’ll tell you this, they have wayyyy more road presence than the SL or any of the other cars mentioned above. They truly look special and expensive. I bet this car was built more for image value than volume and on that I think Cadillac succeeded.

  • avatar
    ktm

    CSJohnston

    There are quite a few people down here who drive Cadillacs……that is, the Cadillac Escalade. Case in point, my wife’s boss. Here is his collection of cars:

    Lamborghini Gallardo
    Porsche Carrera GT
    Ferrari 355
    Porsche 911
    C5 Corvette Convertible
    Cadillac Escalade

    I see quite a few CTS-Vs running around, as I do 300C SRT-8s. However, in living here for close to 4 years now, I have only ever seen two (2)!! XLR’s. Hell, on one memorable day I saw 2 Mercedes Mclaren SLRs and 3 Porsche Carrera GTs (I was driving from Irvine to Santa Barbara).

    While many down here do buy a vehicle based on what others think, the fact that the XLR-V costs $100k and has the same craptastic interior as their $30k vehicles says a lot about GM. It shows that they are not willing, or more frightenly do not know how, to fully execute a design.

    I can forgive Mitsubishi for giving me an engine and drivetrain wrapped in a crappy interior in the form of the Evo IX. Then again, the car costs $33kish and will cream the XLR-V.

  • avatar

    “Cheap interior is OK in a $100k car??? You have GOT to be kidding me!!!”

    I would have to agree. What am I paying for then?

    I haven’t heard it referred to as an “arts and crafts” exterior before. I call it “Back to The Future Reject” look.

    John

  • avatar
    brandanasan

    “The XLR-V’s creased fiberglass strikes the perfect balance between edgy aggression and proportional elegance. The model-specific hood strakes and wire mesh grill add welcome wickedness to a minimalist masterpiece… With the top down, it’s sexy enough to run with ze Germans and Jags of the world.”

    I almost couldn’t make it beyond these sentences, but I muscled through it, hoping for an early April Fool’s “GOTCHA!,” while trying to remember Jeremy Clarkson’s crack at the CTS-V’s similarly insulting appearance. Cubist sculpture was a monumental failure in 20th century art, yet GM seems to think they’re entitled to ask 100 grand for it here.

    Kudos, Mr. Farago, for recognizing that the biting cynicism – despite being warranted by the vast majority of automakers for their shameless offerings – now seems a bit affected. I think many of the readers would agree: the suggestion that CUVs are shaped like giant suppositories is insulting, even for a 20-year-old’s sense of bathroom humor (Montgomery’s review of the Jeep Patriot). But reading praise for something so visually gag-inducing is almost too much to stomach.

    Everything else [read: General teasing], I’m pleased to report, seems to be in order.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Perhaps GM’s thinking goes like this:

    “Wow, if there are people lining up to pay $70-$80k for a pickup truck with back seats (Escalade) then for sure they will pay $100k for a tarted up Corvette.”

  • avatar
    jurisb

    glenn swanson, you have hit the nail! car reliability and finish breeds customer reliability. if a custumer sees eye popping gaps between panels ,cheap textures and economy class accents, he thinks the same way must be done engine and chassis as well. and in most cases he is damn right. if you can`t match two plastic panels, why should i believe you are able to assemble a clutch or a gearbox? and those complaining that it is too expensive to make tolerable gap tolerances, look at other manufacturers. skoda can do it, SEAT can do it.kia can do it, hyundai can do it, daewoo can do it. do they sound like very extravagant and rich companies? but every single american company fails. how come.? well, new impalas and lucernes and enclaves are much better of course.name me please a single american shelf stereo system with digital screens, and buttons. name me a single american photocamera that would have its own zoom bigger than 3x? name me a single american brand vhs or dvd camera. tv set? wristwatch? forklift? ….so it`s fault within attitude. if management was obsessed with cars, not bonuses, and in their childhood were playing with cars and while sleeping , had put those cars underneath their pillows, maybe they might have grown up into car obsessed fanatics, whose biggest success would be a satisfied mob of customers, not the paycheck.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    A lot of people seem to be fairly vocal about how overpriced the car is compared to competitors.

    I wonder what the 58 people who bought brand-spanking-new $90k NSXs last year think.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    This Cadillac XLR is the Auburn boat-tail speedster for the 21st. Century. Enough said.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    CSJohnston:

    I’m 50 plus. There are any number of cars I’d prefer to this poorly executed boulevard cruiser and spend MUCH less money:

    1) Caddy CTS-V

    2) BMW 335i

    3) Audi RS4

    4) Porsche Boxter S

    5) Porsche Cayman S

    The G37 and Audi TT, when available, will probably join this list as well. My point is that all us junior geezers aren’t dead!!!

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    Hey Claude,

    Nice to see you’re not dead! If I look at your list of vehicles, you aren’t in the market for anything even close to a XLR (SL or XK). You want a sports car!

    Hey, I agree with you, I’m not attracted to the high-end luxury two-seater market either (unless it happens to be an Aston but that’s just idle fantasy).

    However, just because we’re not doesn’t mean someone else isn’t!

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    TeeKay,

    Comparing the XLR-V and the Z06 is the ultimate apples to oranges comparo. The Z06 offers far more performance and far less comfort/luxury of its Cadillac cousin. Trust me….no one who has driven both these cars is cross shopping them.

    It’s interesting to note that I was in the market for a V last year, at invoice ($86k)….but after sitting in it and seeing so much switchgear shared with my Corvettes, I came to the same conclusion as RF. Hell, the Driver Information Center is actually the low res dot matrix variety from the 1997-04 C5 Corvette, not the better looking C6 Corvette piece.

    You do have to applaud the weight savings of the XLR compared to its portly European competitors, though.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    The crappy fit and finish on most Big 2.45667 cars is 99% due to bad body engineering compounded by bad body build. (Both in-house suppliers for the time being.)

    Then the external supplier is expected to hold some insane tolerance at “best in world” (read China) prices. If the foundation is completely F’d up the best carpenter in the world can’t build a straight house.

    I challenge anyone – and I mean anyone – on the outside to get a Detroit carmaker to give up the dimensional data (deviation from design) on their body build. You’ll never see it.

    As for the Honda example above – Detroit will never pay for a secondary operation like using a cooling fixture. It just doesn’t meet “best in world” pricing.

    Sorry about the hijack. Off my soap box now.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    What is frustrating… is that if Cadillac put an extra $300 or $400 extra (wholesale cost) into the design and materials of the XLR’s interior, the value would be perceived as worth several thousand to the consumer. Making the XLR’s interior environment richer, more contemporary and more competitive would make all the difference between success and failure. They should update this car pronto. This is s story we’ve heard before.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    tones03: You can say you find the interior “acceptable” and “easy to use” all you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is simply unacceptable to have an interior of this low of quality in a car this expensive. It is all together entirely irrelevant if it “performs well”, because if the materials are of a low quality, and the fit and finish is bad, it doesn’t matter to potential customers. Sure, BMW’s IDrive is annoyingly confusing, as is Mercedes COMAND system, but most buyers could care less, as their cars’ cabins have been fitted with high quality wood, leather, and pristine fit and finish. This Cadillac’s interior doesn’t even come close to cutting it, and in this price league, not coming close to cutting it is not an option. And that is just one of many reasons why they don’t sell and why they lose value so quickly.

  • avatar
    craiggbear

    Deja vue! I had an ’88 Allante – at the time the most expensive and exotic car Cadillac had ever made. Was supposed to be an SL fighter (and Jag, if that wasn’t funny on its own). Notwithstanding its MASSIVE depreciation and subsequent abandonment by GM – followed by a complete denial of its existance in following years – it was actually a pretty good car – until things broke.

    Take it from me – if you want GM performance, buy a Vette. Period!! If you want status (and quality) buy a Lexus. If you want both, cough up the extra dough and get an SL. Or don’t complain when the bottom drops out on XLRs – which it will!!

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    According to the posts, it seems that depreciation is now a major factor in buying a luxury car (here I thought it was about prestige or compensation or something like that).

    Newsflash: all mainstream luxury cars (with Lexus being the notable exception) “drop like a stone”.

    Just doing some quick looking around on the web.

    All prices Canadian

    2006 XLR-V $99,000
    2007 XLR-V $113,670

    Drop= 23% in value

    2006 Mercedes SL55 $144,900
    2007 Mercedes SL55 $176,500

    Drop= 28% in value

    I also looked at buying and `04 XLR and a `04 SL500 versus new (the first year for the XLR). The Caddy retained 55% of its value on average (based on 4 offers) versus 63% for the Mercedes.

    My point is not that the Caddy loses value but they all do to varying degrees.

    I am sure others can come up with other stats to refute the above but what do you expect for 30 minutes of searching!

    Don’t even get me started on Jaguar (grumble, grumble).

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    There’s a reason why a lot of design teams are out here in CA…if it won’t sell here, than get back on the drawing board! Being fortunate enough to also live in a pretty area (La Jolla) I very rarely see these cars while all day the Europeans dominate this field.

  • avatar
    tones03

    I heard many times that the XLR does not sell. GM sells everyone they make, at MSRP. They dont make a lot and dont need to. It is a prestigue vehicle, a beautiful vehicle and I would take it over the ugly and old Lexus, the everyday SL. I dont see very many XLR’s and that is one more reason I would want one, ask Viper owners and they will say the same thing on why they dont want a vette, to many around. Adds to the prestige IMO.

  • avatar
    hagakure

    Everyone so far, including the reviewer, seems to think this car looks great. Let me be the lone dissenting voice. I have always hated the way this car looks. To me, it looks like an overgrown Triumph TR7. You could tell me it was a 911-killer and I still wouldn’t drive one because of the looks alone. All the other negatives mentioned here are just supporting arguments.

  • avatar
    PerfectZero

    hagakure: I agree with you. Personally I think it looks ridiculous. I appreciate angular designs (eg Murcielago), but it has to have some balance. It shouldn’t look like something designed by a 6 year old with a tangram set.

  • avatar
    213Cobra

    I have to wonder whether anyone here, including the reviewer, has driven an XLR-V. Certainly there doesn’t seem to be anyone who’s lived with one, because the car described bears little resemblance to the one I own. It’s my first Cadillac and first GM car, so mine was a conquest sale. And the XLR-V won fair and square after I considered and drove the field of direct and oblique competitors. I’ve had my XLR-V for 15 months, and rolled up 18,000 miles so far. For context, understand that I’ve owned sports cars, muscle-cars and big-motor sedans in the past.

    Against the steel-top luxury convertibles, this XLR-V is a great car. By comparison, the Lexus is misshapen and soft, and the Mercedes is stupidly porky and dated by its Camaro-like long overhangs.

    First, a couple of specific notes: The exposed wiring in my trunk is not duct-taped. It is routed through ribbed plastic tubing. The top does not raise or retract with any jerkiness whatsoever. And the door window switch panels have no discernible play and do not vibrate independently of the door when it’s slammed. The seats may not have aggressive sports car bolstering (it’s not a pure sports car after all) but the sueded inserts in the seats are effective at keeping me in place during hard cornering or swift direction changes.

    Yes, being built on the Corvette platform, the XLR-V does retain that car’s subtle sideways tail skittle on broken pavement in a curve. So what? It is a slight quirk that immediately recovers grip and is a small part of the car’s entertaining character. I’ll take it as a plus over the numbness of an SL or the mush of the puffy SC.

    And let’s understand that comparing any car in the tiny range of “luxury retracting hardtop roadster GTs” to a Porsche or a Z06, or even a standard Corvette, is a basic error in judgment. The XLR/XLR-V is the lightest car in the segment and yet is still about 600 lbs heavier than a Z06. XLR-V, SL, SC, Maser Coupe, Aston V8 are not pure sports cars. They are sporting GTs, carrying the weight penalties of luxury and each representing its maker’s bias in compromises. If you want a sports car, great! Don’t buy anything in this class. You’ll get more sheer performance for less money from a Z06, plain and simple. But the ZO6′s top won’t retract, it will let a lot more heat into the cabin, and it won’t be the comfortable 1000 miler that the XLR-V is.

    Before I get to the dynamics of the XLR-V, let’s look at the interior. I’m in L.A. and work in a field where German iron is as ubiquitous as Camrys. Nothing but a sea of black or silver German iron, and white or black Lexi on my commute. I am in and out of all the Cadillac competitors every week. The carping about the XLR-V interior strikes me as the cheap shots of people who decided to dislike the car before they set eyes on it. Every car has plastic, leather and metal in various measures, including the perceived market leaders. Having been in ALL of them, I’m here to say, they ain’t that special! The exception is the Maserati Gran Sport. No question, the Italians craft compelling visual and tactile traits in their interiors. The Aston is just behind it, but a significantly less distinctive experience. But in exchange, neither offers a retracting hardtop, both are slower, North American dealer service outlets can be counted on your fingers and toes, and both cost more. Against the Germans and the Japanese, you have to be kidding me, right? You can’t possibly think that the small differences in interiors is a reason to buy an SL or SC over an XLR-V….

    The Caddy has 360 degrees of leather at shoulder level. The seats are firm, adjustable, comfortable, gripping. The few hard plastics are substantial and absent brittleness. The Zingana wood trim is authentic. The metal trim is real, not faux, and nicely textured. The soft plastics are as suitable as the soft plastics in the other cars. Switchgear is functional substantial. What I like about the XLR-V interior is its straightforwardness. It is masculine and direct, with better technology integration than its competitors. The operation of functions are absent obtuseness, and everything is in easy reach. The ergonomics are mostly well-executed. Compared to the overwrought and technically fussy German interiors, the Caddy is refreshing. Mine is tight.

    Dynamically, the XLR-V does differ from the feel of a Mercedes, Lexus, Jaguar, Aston or Maser. This is a good thing. What the open-minded driver realizes is that the essential goodness of the Corvette platform comes through to define this car. The SL-AMG, which is the performance competitor to the V, weighs almost a QUARTER TON more than my Cadillac. I…uh….on principle have to draw the line at a car for two people weighing more than 4000 lbs. That’s just lazy engineering in the 21st century. The spec weight of the XLR-V is 3810 lbs. and I’d like to see that come down. Oh, sure, the Merc has plenty of technology to keep all four tires planted against the pavement, but the feel of that technology fighting that surplus quarter ton in a corner is vividly numbing and disappointing. Let’s not even bother with the marshmallow sponginess of the Lexus SC. The standard SL is over 300 lbs. heavier, and you feel that too. Do you give up a trifle of the bank vault feel of the Merc to get the uniframe lightness of the Caddy? Sure. But way less than you think. Guess what? They’re all open cars at the end of the day, and even the Merc loosens up a bit with a squiggle here and there, as time, potholes and road ripples rack up. Drive a 100,000 C5 or C6 Corvette and you will see how tight this platform stays over its life.

    You do pay a ride and NVH penalty for the safety and convenience of run-flat tires. No doubt. If you want an even quieter, smoother XLR-V, put some nice Z-rated performance rubber on in place of the Pirelli Eurfori runflats. Unsprung weight will go down, rolling noise will decrease, grip will hold more Gs, and your ride will be more supple. But that said, part of the luxury experience is never having to worry. The Euforis are the best run-flats I’ve driven, especially for wet traction, and it looks like I’ll get more than 20,000 miles on original set. But I digress.

    For me the XLR-V steering is communicative (if not intimate), handling is predictable and at its limit degrades progressively. Braking is near-heroic with the Vette Z51 package onboard, and the drivetrain plain kicks butt. Quick, fast, and with the 6L80 transmission, smart.

    Overall, the contenders in this niche each have a very different feel. The Lexus SC is all surface but isn’t a serious car. It’s proportions are strange and visually inelegant, it suffers from a sloppy suspension, and it’s porky. The Merc SL is frankly a pig that’s engineered to feel much better than it is. Good job disguising the car’s useless lard. But elementally, the excess bulk defines the car and it ends up being sort-of-posh and sybaritic, but nobody’s idea of a crisp-handling car. Moreover, while some may like its fat-butt melted form, it looks old now, and unprogressive. The XLR-V is the luxury retracting hardtop roadster GT here for the person who likes sports cars. It feels light and tossable compared to the others. It has that slight tail skip on broken pavement that helps to make a sports car fun. Its power is well matched to its weight. And it’s quiet, comfortable and solid inside. The Caddy’s straightforward American design sensibility inside is a welcome alternative to the underthought ergonomics and overdesigned themes of the others. And no doubt the next version will be even better. Yeah, I’d like better carpet and a leather headliner would be appreciated at this price. But frankly when the hand-wrenched 4.4L mill is on boil and churning thrust, I’m just not thinking about those minor slights. If I wanted to dial up the dynamic performance a little further, I’d change out the run-flats. But this is a GT and not a pure sports car, so I’d rather in this case not be changing a flat at 3am.

    The trunk, by the way, is cavernous for the size of the car, just like in a Vette coupe. So what if it shrinks dramatically with the top down? I can fit two small weekender bags or a briefcase and a weekender with the top down. Plenty of space to travel light. Reality: you’ll drive to your destination in coupe mode, unload at your destination, then have all the top-down driving you want. It’s not an issue. I’ve been driving convertibles for over 30 years and do not find the XLR-V inconvenient in any way.

    As for the price, yup it’s a Hundred Large. People who think this car can be brought to market for $75K are not thinking realistically. You have the base XLR there, and it’s competitive. The V is a low-production vehicle, with a factory custom mill, and plenty of added value over the base XLR. Sure, it’d be nice to see the V at, say, $92,000 but the buyer at this price level isn’t driven by that difference. Perception is what rules. That’s what drives the depreciation too, but there are much bigger things to worry about in deciding how to allocate a large purchase that has macro-economic consequences.

    If you’re buying in this class of cars, drive the field and decide. The Caddy is a real alternative and for me, it won the decision. If you’ll accept a cloth top, the field widens, but really that’s not the same.

    Phil

  • avatar

      213Cobra: Wow! You want a job? Email us for writer's guidelines. I mean, you might as well get paid for that kind of comprehensiveness– even if the cash isn't enough to fill up the tank of your XLR-V. OK, a few points… Of course I drove the car, and you know it too. While I appreciate your passion, TTAC has a firm policy on posting: no flaming the site, its authors or fellow commentators. Although that comment fell afoul of the rules I left it in. Next time you get a warning. After that, a ban. Anyway, as for looks, I agree: the Lexus is mishapen and soft. In fact, it's a hideous blob. The SL, however, is hardly "stupidly porky." It's very sexily porky. In fact, I believe it's a classic design: the best looking Merc made. The brand new XLR-V that I tested had exposed duct taped wiring in the trunk. And a rattling door panel. And inadequate seat bolstering. Them's the facts. I'm happy to concede that your XLR-V was properly assembled, but this one wasn't. Ditto the herky jerky top. Again, I don't make this shit up. A "subtle sideways tail skittle on broken pavement in a curve" is great writing but lousy reporting.In a turn, at speed, over a bad bump or broken pavement (especially off-camber), the XLR-V simply loses it. All handling fluidity and coherence disappear. If it's bad enough, the car goes pavement surfing,  which is also true of the C6 (see: my review). "It has that slight tail skip on broken pavement that helps to make a sports car fun." The word you're looking for is "scary." The SL is INCREDIBLY competent through the bends, no matter what kind of pavement's it's traversing. The Lexus is, as you pointed out, horrific. I'm not sure why you've got a problem comparing the XLR-V to a Porsche cabriolet, 'cause brother that car is one HELL of a GT. As is the SL550. I've driven both cars enormous distances at high speeds. They're both more comfortable and competent and near-as-dammit as quick as the XLR-V. "You can’t possibly think that the small differences in interiors is a reason to buy an SL or SC over an XLR-V." You're right. Only the differences aren't small. They're friggin' HUGE. The XLR-V's cabin looks cheap. It feels cheap. It IS cheap. Compare any piece of switchgear, any gauge, any moving bit of plastic (glovebox, headlight switches), any design. Game over Caddy. And while you might not care about such things, luxury buyers do, 'cause they're buying… luxury. Which is what, if it isn't a combination of stunning design and luxury materials and craftsmanship? Oh, and that cheap shot– "The carping about the XLR-V interior strikes me as the cheap shots of people who decided to dislike the car before they set eyes on it."– make no sense if you read my first paragraph. I agree with you that German luxury car interiors are fussy in comparison to the Caddy. If you read a selection of my reviews, you'll see I'm vehemently anti-complexity. But I'd have to say the Caddy is too far at the hairshirt end of the spectrum. Let's call that one a draw. "What the open-minded driver realizes is that the essential goodness of the Corvette platform comes through to define this car." Oh sir, you cut me to the quick! Anyway, I agree that light is better than heavy– except when it isn't. The SL's heaviness is actually advantage here. It gives the car a bank vault on wheels feel that makes it a far more imperious wafter than the skittish Caddy. And again, the SL is ridiculously nimble and sure-footed through the bends. And that's what you're talking about here, isn't it? The SL will run rings around the XLR-V on the 'Ring. And the Porsche cab? Bye bye. The XLR-V's run-flats blow. Got it. So why are they OEM? Freedom from worry? Or maybe freedom from a heavy spare? Or perhaps it's just a very bad engineering decision. And how many speeds does that gearbox have again? But hey, I too loved the XLR-V's engine and brakes (which lacked feel but not power). Agreed. Summary time? OK. The Lexus is a dog. Check. But you gotta get over your bias against the SL's weight. Like a fat woman who can dance your socks off, the SL is a fat car that can… dance your socks off. And there ain't nothing wrong with the way that sucker looks. And if you want better handling, the AMG version is just plain AWESOME. If you're not on a budget, and who is at $100k, the SL63 AMG is ten times better than the XLR-V. And the Porsche Cab. And the Audi R8. As for the trunk issue, what can I say? Cavernous? You're not bothered? OK. If you say so. But the real problem is your insistence that the Caddy's folding hardtop precludes comparison with anything other than a two door retractable hardtop. Even so, as I've said here ad nauseum, the SL kicks its ass. Don't take my word for it; look at the sales figures. While I understand your desire to defend your whip, the XLR-V is a deeply flawed automobile. "Yeah, I’d like better carpet and a leather headliner would be appreciated at this price." And, presumably, everything else as well. You and me both kid. 

  • avatar
    213Cobra

    Robert,

    Thanks for your response, and the compliment. I’ll follow-up on your invitation. My post was a stream-of-consciousness quick draft. For compensation, I’m sure I can do better. My opening wasn’t intended as a flame and I’m sorry it was interpreted as such. Perhaps I should have written, “..If I didn’t know better, I’d wonder whether anyone here actually drove the car…”

    OK, a few points…

    “The SL, however, is hardly ’stupidly porky.’ It’s very sexily porky. In fact, I believe it’s a classic design: the best looking Merc made.”

    Clark Gable’s Merc 170V was sexy. Al Jolson’s SSK was sexy. In my lifetime, the Gullwing was sexy. But I don’t see any Mercedes of the last 45 years as “sexy,” though they do seem to be making a stab at a design theme that isn’t slab-sided and dull since about 1997. I’ll give you that the current SL is the best looking Mercedes in current production, but that’s like saying Howard Stern is good looking for a radio entertainer. We just don’t agree. To you the SL is “sexily porky,” but to me it looks bloated and vaguely squashed. “Pre-disastered” as Robin Williams described the house he was about to buy in “Garp” when the plane crashed into the 2nd story.

    “…And inadequate seat bolstering…” OK, can’t argue your view of how your own body fits. For me, who is accustomed to deep bolstering in sports cars, the sueded inserts do an equally-effective job combined with the bolstering that’s there.

    “A ’subtle sideways tail skittle on broken pavement in a curve’ is great writing but lousy reporting.In a turn, at speed, over a bad bump or broken pavement (especially off-camber), the XLR-V simply loses it. All handling fluidity and coherence disappear. If it’s bad enough, the car goes pavement surfing, which is also true of the C6 (see: my review).”

    This is not my experience. Maybe 35 years of driving sports cars gives me a different perspective. All Corvettes have had this bump-skip characteristic since the transverse leaf spring suspension debuted. By the way, Triumph Spitfires did the same thing for the same reason. I’ve driven well over a hundred thousand miles in Corvettes, much at speed over difficult California secondary roads in less-than-optimum state of repair. I guess I’m used to it. I certainly have never experienced “pavement surfing” or anything close to it. In a Mustang, sure. Not in a Corvette. Swapping ends in a Corvette has been difficult since at least the C4 and my experience with this phenomenon has always been that recovery is nearly instant. What defines “fluidity” and “coherence?” I suppose there’s a measure of taste and preference. In the XLR-V, the rear skittle intrinsic to the platform is made a little more obvious by the hard run-flats, but even in the wet, I’ve not experienced anything I’d consider even mildly troublesome on our no-longer-maintained California asphalt.

    “The SL is INCREDIBLY competent through the bends, no matter what kind of pavement’s it’s traversing.”

    Maybe. I didn’t say the SL isn’t competent. I allude to the fact that it is by pointing out how well the car’s engineering compensates for its weight. But nevertheless, I feel all that tech fighting the weight of the car, and the result is exceptionally numb driving for a 2-seater.

    “I’m not sure why you’ve got a problem comparing the XLR-V to a Porsche cabriolet, ’cause brother that car is one HELL of a GT. As is the SL550. I’ve driven both cars enormous distances at high speeds. They’re both more comfortable and competent and near-as-dammit as quick as the XLR-V.”

    The Porsche is a sports car with fewer GT compromises than the SL/SC/XLR-V. It competes with Corvette and others. As a result it has more NVH than this class of cars, and an immediate feel that requires more attention. Good for its category, but a compromise for this one. As for whether it’s more comfortable, I can say for me it isn’t — ’cause I don’t fit in a Porsche but I do in the XLR-V and that makes all the difference. But if I were comparing a Porsche as a GT car, I’d probably consider instead the glass-roof Targas.

    “..the differences aren’t small. They’re friggin’ HUGE. The XLR-V’s cabin looks cheap. It feels cheap. It IS cheap. Compare any piece of switchgear, any gauge, any moving bit of plastic (glovebox, headlight switches), any design. Game over Caddy.”

    Nearly every Mercedes owner who has gotten into my XLR-V has commented that they’d read that the interior looks and feels cheap, and then said they couldn’t see it. I don’t either. If you say to me that the Caddy interior looks low-end for its class compared to the Maserati Gran Sport, you’d be right! But once you’re out of the Maser and into the German cars and the XLR-V, it’s all just different takes on metal, plastic and a little leather. My interior is handsome, tight, well-assembled and seems durable. On all of these cars, the switchgear feels cheaper by the generation. Plastic is plastic. I saw one of your writers savaged the interior of the Alpina B7, so at least you’re consistent. For me the SL interior doesn’t feel more luxurious, it just feels overdone.

    “I agree with you that German luxury car interiors are fussy in comparison to the Caddy. If you read a selection of my reviews, you’ll see I’m vehemently anti-complexity. But I’d have to say the Caddy is too far at the hairshirt end of the spectrum. Let’s call that one a draw.”

    Fair enough.

    “I agree that light is better than heavy– except when it isn’t. The SL’s heaviness is actually advantage here. It gives the car a bank vault on wheels feel that makes it a far more imperious wafter than the skittish Caddy.”

    If I wanted a bank vault on wheels I’d buy a Bentley. Weight is the enemy. Cadillac has the only uniframe car in the class, and is the lightest for it. If you expand to include soft-tops, the new aluminum XK is a mere 29 lbs. lighter and less rigid. Cadillac has pointed the way to building a luxury GT car on an efficient chassis that requires less power to move it quickly. You might like the SL’s mass, but it steals fun from the drive.

    “The SL will run rings around the XLR-V on the ‘Ring. And the Porsche cab? Bye bye.”

    Maybe stock, but change out the run-flats and you might be surprised. I hope the Porsche cab can do better — as can a Corvette convertible. They’re sports cars, not GTs with penalty of weight and smaller tires. In any case, I ain’t driving the ‘Ring.

    “The XLR-V’s run-flats blow. Got it. So why are they OEM? Freedom from worry? Or maybe freedom from a heavy spare? Or perhaps it’s just a very bad engineering decision.”

    Freedom from worry and to avoid a heavy spare, obviously. In the Corvette, the solution has been to put run-flats on the standard range, and stickier inflation meats on the hi-po Z06, along with an air pump and a can of goo. Most luxury car buyers aren’t satisfied with a goo can. The sports car crowd is socialized to accept more risk. Cadillac was frank about why they spec’d smaller rubber than the Corvette’s — NVH. The bigger Corvette and even larger Z06 rubber pumped too much noise into the cabin for this category of car. They also tramline on some freeways. Not right for a GT. But there’s plenty of room in the wheelwells for Corvette rubber if you want to move your XLR-V more in the direction of a sports car. Otherwise, the Euforis are the best run-flat I’ve driven on so far.

    “And how many speeds does that gearbox have again? But hey, I too loved the XLR-V’s engine and brakes (which lacked feel but not power). Agreed.”

    The 6L80 has six-speed, which you know. With an engine having such a broad powerband, that’s enough for me. Seven, eight gears….pretty soon you may as well have a CVT and where would the fun be in that? XLR-V braking feel, btw, improves significantly after several thousand miles of break-in.

    “Like a fat woman who can dance your socks off, the SL is a fat car that can… dance your socks off. “…And if you want better handling, the AMG version is just plain AWESOME. If you’re not on a budget, and who is at $100k, the SL63 AMG is ten times better than the XLR-V.”

    I’ve driven the SL55. It’s good but marred by the same weight penalty already cited. I haven’t driven the SL63. I’ll take your word for it that it’s exciting for its mill. But you won’t find me rewarding *any* manufacturer that can’t engineer a spectacular sporting GT for two people at under 4000 lbs.

    “Even so, as I’ve said here ad nauseum, the SL kicks its ass. Don’t take my word for it; look at the sales figures.”

    Sales figures? I live in California! 7/8ths of the people I meet who own an SL have no idea what’s in it or how it drives, or why it drives the way it drives. They just bought a brand. The XLR/XLR-V represent a 1st-generation outing to reclaim a market spot for the Cadillac brand. They did not intend to upend SL sales, nor did they plan enough production capacity if they did.

    “While I understand your desire to defend your whip, the XLR-V is a deeply flawed automobile.”

    Really, I’m not defending the XLR-V. People can make their own decision. I didn’t buy mine to impress others. I merely saw the original review and a number of comments which I believe mis-represent the reality of the car. I think the entire category of retracting hardtop GT roadsters are “deeply flawed automobiles.” But that doesn’t make them undesirable. As automobiles, yeah….they have too little room, poor efficiency of all types, depreciate like the gravitational pull of the Sun, weigh too much and are too isolating to be sports cars. For me? The basic architecture of the XLR-V can be worked into a best-in-class offering. Let’s see how the next two versions of the car evolve. FWIW, my views on the car are informed by 18,000 miles of driving.

    Phil

  • avatar
    jlmartin99

    Greetings Robert,

    I must admit, I came away in stark contrast in my impression of Cadillac’s XLR and more of the same with Cadillac’s XLR-V. In fact, I perform an evaluation of several luxury sports cars and decided on the XLR with Mercedes-Benz’s SL500 as my #2 choice. I would describe both of these luxury roadsters as wonderful high performance luxury sports cars.

    I found positives and negatives with all of the sports cars that I reviewed, but I must admit, they all were depending on your requirements fun and very fine vehicles. But what set Cadillac’s above the other sports car is its style and design, systems integration and features. I found no other luxury sports car better in this regard. And I was expecting Mercedes-Benz’s SL to edge out the Cadillac in these areas and was surprise when that was not what I experienced.

    At any rate, my experience has been so positive with the XLR, I have decided on Cadillac’s XLR-V to replace my current model. I did review Mercedes-Benz’s SL55 AMG and what a wonderful product, but it really offered nothing more to change my impression other than the increase in power, which is very impressive. But at the end of the day, the styling and design of Cadillac’s XLR-V is so far beyond any other product in its class, there does not seem to be any contest for my tastes. To each his owned, but for my requirements, Cadillac’s XLR-V is the best in class high performance luxury roadster, bar none.

    JLM

  • avatar
    jlmartin99

    Greetings 213Cobra,

    I just wanted to comment saying in my six month evaluation prior to purchasing my Cadillac XLR, I came to many of the same conclusions you have, but certainly have not expressed them so vividly.

    I simply wanted to say, thank you for you insightful comments.

    JLM

  • avatar
    jlmartin99

    Greetings 213Cobra,

    I just wanted to comment saying in my six month evaluation prior to purchasing my Cadillac XLR, I came to many of the same conclusions you have, but certainly have not expressed them so vividly.

    I simply wanted to say, thank you for your insightful comments.

    JLM

  • avatar
    will345

    I enjoyed reading all entries through March and April this year in knowing that I was going to buy a new 2 seater this spring. My three preferences were in no specific order, the SL550 (or SL55AMG), Z06, and the XLR.

    I looked at the BMW Z4 and AUDI (must admit the 2008 TT looks hot), and had already precluded them as not being contenders for various reasons, but mainly as they were too small (I am 6’3″). I was looking for luxury over speed so I also didn’t consider the Viper.

    I drove the SL550 (thought SL55AMG was too pricey)in April prior to driving an xlr. I was impressed at the quality, but not impressed with the aging exterior design. The interior left me cold, and thought the stereo was awful for a $130k cdn vehicle. Beyond my impressions, there are a multitude of gray SL550′s & AMG’s driving around my neighbourhood – dime a dozen in my opinion – and bland (what is with all these people buying gray cars).

    I drove the Z06 in May at a local dealership. I was impressed with the speed, but wasn’t necessarily feeling that the Z06 was what I wanted – instead I wanted to pursue a luxury 2 seater – still thinking maybe Z4 at that time.

    I then finally drove the base XLR. I had never been in one before unlike the Corvettes, Z4, SL550, etc. etc.

    My first impression was that I felt the design was exceptional. There is no exaggeration is saying the design and flare is a welcome change from the boring looks of some of the contenders (like the looks of the Z4 – just too damn small).

    The rectractable hard top I felt was fast and efficient (not bumpy), the seats I felt were firm yet supportive, the ride was firm and suprisingly solid in my opinion (very much like the Vette), fit and finish I thought was decent if not up to grade with the SL, and the stereo was excellent. And behold I could sit in a two seater without hitting my head on the headliner while the top was up(eg. BMW, Audi, SL, & Lexus). What blew me away was the looks from pedestrians and other drivers. Many had indicated that they were impressed with the design. As there are very few XLR’s around, it seemed to be a novelty.

    Moreover, I was starting to have that “must have” craving like I had not experienced with other contenders.

    So thanks to one test drive, I was leaning towards the XLR. At the end of May, I was still undecided (I was thinking Jag shockingly). However, once I read 213Cobra’s well written response to Robert’s review, I started realizing that I should look at the XLR-V and potentially go the used route to save on the big first year hit of depreciation. I had never seen nor driven in a “V” – I am not sure why but no local dealerships in Canada had them, and I had never seen one on the road. The V series finally won me over while searching the web and I ended up buying the XLR-V on-line (although I bought it as a dealership demo in the States with 12000 k’s for far under list price to compensate for going the extra step to the V).

    The only big negative in my opinion is no pop up wind screen behind the seats as wind buffeting is severe at high speeds with the windows down. Otherwise I have NO COMPLAINTS especially since saving $35,000.00 off list by purchasing a 2006.

    Which brings me to the conclusion of numerous others that if the XLR-V was priced in the mid $70 – 80 k’s, this car would be hard to resist (in comparison to the others) for those looking for a luxury two seater convertible with 443 horses. Yet then the XLR-V’s would be common place on the road and I would have to resort to buying a Vantage!

    Anyways, thank you 213Cobra as your responses to Robert’s commentary helped in my ultimate decision.

  • avatar

    Entirely defensible choice. Obviously.

  • avatar
    rashettle

    Is there a good reason to buy this car. NO * ∞.

    It is more money, uglier in and out, slower, and handles worse than a Z06. Need I say more?

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Is there a good reason to buy this car. NO * ∞.

    It is more money, uglier in and out, slower, and handles worse than a Z06. Need I say more?

    I won’t challenge your dislike of the XLR-V’s aesthetics compared to Corvette. I like them both and each makes a distinctly different visual statement. However, if you compare XLR-V to Z06 for value, then you misunderstand this car.

    The Z06 is a hard-core sports car just comfortable enough for the street and usable as a daily driver. It only comes as a fixed-roof coupe. As a sports car, it sacrifices quiet and comfort and accepts high NVH, in favor of sheer road-wrangling competence. Of course it outruns and handles more adroitly than XLR-V. Z06 is a sports car.

    XLR-V is not a sports car. It is a retractable hardtop coupe/roadster luxury GT. Because of this, XLR-V shifts its luxury performance axis toward comfort. To reduce NVH, XLR-V has narrower tires. It’s luxury features and hardtop convertible add more than 600 lbs. of mass over its platform stablemate, Z06. While XLR-V is a quarter ton lighter than its Mercedes equivalent, it is still about 20% heavier than the Z06 and carries its weight on a smaller tire contact patch. It is not going to handle as well as a lower, lighter, fatter-tired, more aggressively sprung Z06, and it’s not intended to.

    However, Z06 doesn’t give you a retractable hardtop. It’s not as quiet, nor is its drivetrain as smooth. It’s not as supple on broken city streets. Z06 is a Corvette, so it doesn’t make the same impression as the scarcer XLR-V. Z06 will not leave you feeling nearly as fresh after a 1000 miles day on the road.

    The two are simply different-purpose cars, derived from a common platform. I’d like to have both.

    Phil

  • avatar
    will345

    Thank you Phil. Well put.

    The XLR-V is a sports car, just not in the same league as a Z06. The reason I bought the XLR-V is it really is the best of both worlds. 443hp, yet a luxurious, hardtop convertible, and rare.
    You can bet all those who bought the Z06 are wishing they bought the LS2 400hp convertible instead. Buying a XLR-V is just one more step up, to the annoyance of Z06 owners.

    I do enjoy the guys in the Z06′s driving beside me, reving their engines and wanting to have a quick run. No kidding – they are ENVIOUS. Although the XLR-V is really a Vette beneath a Cadillac exterior, I am yet to see a friendly wave from a Z06 driver. My feelings are hurt.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Until the next XLR-V update, the Corvette that will make some XLR-V intenders think is the new convertible with the high-line interior. Given that Corvettes now have a power top option, an interior option that puts leather on almost every interior surface, a 436hp mill to blast 500 or so lbs. less mass, it closes the conceptual gap between Corvette as sports car and XLR-V as GT. And you can get a manual and three pedals in the Corvette.

    Still, a cloth top is not a hard top. Putting leather on the Vette’s interior surfaces doesn’t make that interior equivalent to XLR-V. The magnificent 6.2L mill doesn’t match the smooth exoticar whoosh of the Supercharged 4.4L Northstar. So they’re still aimed at different buyers with different wallets.

    No Corvette, including the Z06, gets the social reaction the XLR-V earns. Its dramatic, sharp design, sheer scarcity and aural mystery wins respectful attention. Not a single day goes by that I don’t receive one or more unsolicited compliments about my Cadillac, and the enthusiasm for it cuts across social categories. People I’d have no other social context to meet routinely chat me up about this car.

    I know what you mean about Z06 drivers.

    Phil

  • avatar
    jlmartin99

    Greetings Phil,

    Very wekk said and I purchased a Cadillac XLR and most recently reviewed Cadillac’s XLR-V and Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG which were my final two candidates for purchase.

    I happen to adore Chevrolet’s Corvette/Z06, Porsche 911 and reviewed these as consideration for purchase. Simply said, these are world class sports cars. I thought that was what I wanted when I started, but as I reviewed luxury GTs, I found myself wanting these designed cars, fitting my requirements the best. That is where Cadillac’s XLR/XLR-V and Mercedes-Benz’s SL550/SL55 AMG became my ultimate luxury performance roadsters of choice, with Cadillac’s XLR/XLR-V as my selected luxury performance roadster.

    Cadillac has created something very special in the XLR/XLR-V worthy of world class status. In my view this takes nothing away from Corvette in that they are designed for different sports car buyers. In my case, Cadillac’s XLR/XLR-V simply is the very best sports car for my requirements in the world, bar none.

    JLM

  • avatar
    mhs

    I’ve owned an XLR-V for about 15 months. Not that this may matter to anyone, but I have to mention this warranty. It is different than with the XLR. They break their back taking care of me. They get me into service ahead of other people in line. I actually felt a little guilty the last time.

    I also own a 2007 Corvette Z06, though I’ve owned that for a very short time. With neither car would I be inclined to take turns (in normally bad South Florida traffic) where I need better seat support. My father has a Mercedes CL63 (which did get a good writeup here), and I can see the difference in the seats, and where the complaint is coming from. But that Mercedes is more than twice the price. One can get a deal on the XLR-V, but not so on the CL63.

    That is part of the appeal. Do not compare cars with similar MSRPs. Compare cars with actual prices which are similar. For the $70k that I paid, I do not see a Mercedes which compares. And as indicated by the CL63 purchase, we are not closed-mindedly against Mercedes in general. But the SL series (which compares to the XLR-V) sure is commonplace.

    In comparison, I see (with discomfort) that people often approach my parked car and do a 360. People start conversations at gas stations. In South Florida, it seems like everybody is generally unfriendly, so it’s odd for people to behave this way. On more than 1 occasion, I’ve had to ask the person inspecting the car to excuse me so that I can get into it. I have delayed returning to my car so that I would not have to interact with the person inspecting it. At the grocery store, a Publix employee (an older one) scared the hell out of me by sticking her head into my open passenger window to tell my that it (either my convertible top’s action or the car itself) was the coolest thing she’d ever seen. Other people (yes plural) have stopped dead while walking to watch the top move. As if they’ve never seen a hardtop convertible. This is not our first nice car. But I’ve never seen reactions like this. And my car is plain old unobtrusive black, and not some attention-getting color. That CL63 with its 20 inch rims, AMG emblems, and chrome on black doesn’t get as much attention.

    We also have the Lexus SC430 and I’ve never seen someone stop to watch that top’s action.

    So much of the car’s appeal is the coolness factor. The 443 horsepower is not bad, but it’s nothing impressive in today’s automotive world. Two different people told me that it reminds them of the batmobile. I don’t see it, but again, I’m only addressing how it compares to the ubiquitous Mercedes SL and Lexus SC430 hardtop convertibles. It’s all personal preference. And some incarnations of the batmobile were, after all, rather bad.

    Yes there are negatives. Wind noise is bad with the top down at highway speed, but they do make a screen for that. I felt it was over-priced. I really didn’t like the interior at first, and I still don’t love it. But it grew on me. I like the Lexus and Mercedes interior better, but I think that Cadillac was shooting for understated.

    Most people are not taking this car on the track, and I doubt that the seats will be inadequate for them either.

    The trunk space? If you want more, put the top up. That’s the beauty, its versatility. And I doubt that the Lexus is much better when both tops are down. Unknown about the Mercedes.

    The top? Well it is inefficient. The Lexus is much better designed. Less moving parts. Less to go wrong. Quicker. But I don’t think that the goal was a quick, efficient up and down maneuver. And when the rain comes quickly, and the traffic light is about the change, that quickness is what you want. But most of the time, it’s enjoyable to watch the dance as the top does it’s thing. Spectators seem to agree.

    I have never had to do a panic stop, but from what I’ve read about the specifications, it’s braking is a little disappointing despite it’s relatively lower weight and corvette-based brakes. And this is where I much prefer the Z06. But as repeatedly pointed out, it’s apples and oranges.

    The runflat tires. Yes they suck in certain respects. But they’re also on the Z06, and maybe even the Lexus. I forget. Heck, the Mini-Cooper S often have them. So even performance cars and German go-carts are seen to benefit from the convenience and mental comfort. Despite the negatives, I would put them on any car I owned if it did not already come factory. But if you want performance and better ride, one can easily change them out. In the forums I can see that Z06 owners often do.

    Of the two, I prefer the XLR-V to the Z06. 505 horsepower? 443? Whatever. Either one is good enough. If memory serves, the XLR-V somehow matches a 500 horsepower Ford GT500 in a 0-60 sprint, and that’s quick enough. So what if a Z06 can smoke the same Mustang. I’m too old for that. When I’ve had bad day and want to light up the tires off a light, the Cadillac will do fine. Plus the XLR-V is unique, whereas the Z06 looks pretty similar to the standard Corvette.

    In sum, the car gets looks without making the owner seems like they’re trying to get attention. It’s the opposite of a car with pickle jar exhausts and fake intakes. And it is also a sleeper, because the attention that it gets has nothing to do with it’s performance. I doubt that the average person would know what it can do, since even the “supercharged” emblems are smallish and only on the sides.

    If not already clear, I recommend it. But it’s like Rocky Road vs. Vanilla ice cream. Most everybody likes Vanilla at least a little. Whereas Rock Road is maybe too different, and people will love or hate it.


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