GM has produced the second car to use the extended-range hybrid powertrain first introduced in the Chevrolet Volt, wrapping the front-wheel-drive hybrid system in a striking two-door Cadillac luxury coupe. The 2014 Cadillac ELR is a 2+2 version of the Volt, but it features a far more luxurious interior, a more sophisticated suspension, 20-inch wheels, and Cadillac's proprietary CUE entertainment and information system. Electric performance should be similar to the Volt, with an approximate 35-mile EV range before the 1.4-liter four-cylinder range-extending motor kicks in, allowing more than 300 miles total range for the ELR.
The ELR is visually almost identical to the 2009 Cadillac Converj Concept, keeping all of its major styling elements and proportions. A vestigial chrome grille that doesn't actually let air flow through it is flanked by vertically stacked LED headlights and Cadillac's signature light pipes. Those headlights extend into the front fenders and create a character line that sweeps up the bodysides, culminating in vertical LED tail lamps that also extend into the fenders.
The fenders house 20-inch wheels with specially developed Bridgestone low-rolling-resistance tires. The rear end features a high tail with Cadillac's family trunk lid trim, but the ELR is not a hatchback — a small trunk opening in back lifts up to reveal a 9-cubic-foot cargo space that's big enough for golf bags or a decent-sized roll-on suitcase.
Despite the ELR being a longer and wider car than the Volt, the lower roof and bigger seats mean the coupe has less interior room, with less head-, hip and shoulder room than the four-door Volt. The interior is far more sculpted, however, with a dramatic angular instrument panel, premium stitched leather and LED lighting everywhere.
A high center console runs between the front and rear seats. It houses the T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack. The center console is dominated by the CUE system, shared with the rest of the Cadillac lineup, as well as the touch-sensitive controls for audio, climate and other systems. Leather seats are standard, with an Opus semi-aniline premium leather seat option that also includes 20-way power adjustable controls. Rear seats are small, with legroom suitable only for children.
The gauges feature information and customization that goes beyond the system seen in the Volt. A 10-speaker Bose audio system with active noise cancellation is standard.
Under the Hood
The ELR uses virtually the same powertrain as the Chevy Volt, an extended-range hybrid electric system powered by a 16.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Motion is generated through an electric motor that Cadillac says generates 207 "system-level" horsepower, but that also produces a significant 295 pounds-feet of torque right from zero rpm, which is more than the V-6-powered Cadillac SRX crossover. Performance numbers are yet to be determined, but the car is limited to a 100 mph top speed, just like the Volt. Range for the EV mode is estimated to be about 35 miles, at which point an onboard 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline generator motor kicks on to provide electrical power, extending the ELR's range to more than 300 miles on a tank of fuel. Recharging takes about 12 hours on household 120-volt power, dropping to more than four hours on 240-volt charging station power.
Four different driving modes are available to the driver: Tour, Sport, Mountain and Hold. Tour is the default mode, meant to deliver the best available balance of energy usage and performance while Sport mode adjusts accelerator input, steering and suspension settings to provide a more aggressive response. Mountain allows the engine to run in stressed conditions to provide extra power in high-demand situations (such as traversing steep mountain passes) while Hold mode runs the gas engine continuously to maintain a specific charge level in the battery for later use. A new regenerative braking system is employed in the ELR, allowing the driver to use paddle-style shifters to engage regenerative braking, simulating a "downshift" in a manual transmission without touching the brakes and sending energy back into the battery pack.
A full complement of safety equipment is standard on the ELR, including antilock brakes, stability control, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control. The ELR will also feature Cadillac's Safety Alert Seat, which will vibrate parts of the seat bottom in conjunction with auditory safety warnings if triggered.
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