After going more than a decade without one, Cadillac added a two-passenger sports car to its lineup for 2004. Named the XLR, the retractable-hardtop car gave Cadillac an elite luxury roadster with a performance-oriented chassis and structure. Cadillac's previous two-seater was the 1987 - 1993 Allante.
An all-new 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 went into the XLR. Cadillac promotes the "harmonious blend of technologies and materials meant to add pleasure, not complexity, to the driving experience." A long list of technical features includes a head-up display, radar-operated adaptive cruise control and GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system.
Magnetic Ride Control provides magnetic-fluid-based real-time damping. Keyless Access with push-button start-up permits true no-key operation. For safety's sake, the engine will not start unless the remote fob is in the car and the driver is pushing the brake pedal. Light or dark eucalyptus wood interiors go into 2005 models, and Blue Steel finish replaces the original Thunder Gray.
Cadillac says the XLR was inspired by stealth fighters and serves as "a contemporary expression of Cadillac's heritage of landmark design and advanced technology." Linear lines display hints of the marque's history. The strong grille also suggests the past, but with a modern expression. The XLR's vertical headlights are part of Cadillac's current design philosophy.
The roadster's weight distribution is virtually 50/50, helped by the rear-mounted transmission. Cadillac says the XLR's steel hydroformed frame rails couple with an aluminum cockpit structure and balsa-cored composite flooring to provide "rigidity without bulk." Michelin ZP run-flat tires eliminate the need for a spare tire.
Built on a 105.7-inch wheelbase, the XLR is 177.7 inches long overall and stands 50.4 inches tall. Retracting the hardtop takes less than 30 seconds. Made of aluminum and magnesium, the top structure features composite exterior panels, a heated glass window and glass rear-quarter windows.
Two occupants fit into the XLR's luxurious interior, which is highlighted with eucalyptus wood and aluminum accents. The seatbacks and cushions are heated and cooled. The DVD navigation/entertainment system has a 7-inch screen in the upper center console and operates only when the gear selector is in Park. A nine-speaker Bose audio system includes an in-dash six-CD changer. XM Satellite Radio and GM's OnStar communication system are standard. Trunk capacity is 11.6 cubic feet with the top up, and space dips to 4.4 cubic feet when the roof is retracted.
Under the Hood
A 4.6-liter dual-overhead-cam Northstar V-8 with variable valve timing produces 320 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 310 pounds-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Premium fuel is required. The rear-mounted five-speed-automatic transmission incorporates Driver Shift Control.
Side-impact head and thorax airbags are installed in the seats. The seat belts have powered pretensioners. Four-channel all-disc antilock brakes, traction control and a stability system are standard.