2014 Cadillac ELR First Drives Road & Track

6 Мар 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2014 Cadillac ELR First Drives Road & Track отключены
Cadillac ELR Electric Cars

By Jason Cammisa December 4, 2013 / Photos by GM

To help you make the most sense of the new Cadillac range-extended hybrid, EV, Volt, pretty coupe thing, here are five different perspectives on it.

Cadillac s View

The ELR is a premium range-extended hybrid electric vehicle aimed at the would-be environmentalist who wants to save fuel but is too luxury-minded and style-conscious to be seen in something like a Prius (or a Chevy Volt, for that matter) The ELR is, in fact, based on the Volt, but it has been substantially upgraded in terms of interior materials, creature comforts, and handling. But mostly, its jaw-dropping style will cause people to plunk down (a minimum of) $75,995 for the privilege of having one in their driveway.

A Tesla Model S Owner s View

You ve got to be kidding. For about the same price as a base ELR, I can get a Tesla Model S with the biggest battery (85 kWh, 265-mile range) and a claimed 5.4-second 0-60 time. That s a 0-60 difference between a Cayman and a Corolla, and the Tesla has 7 times the EV range. Please spare me the argument about the range extender: I have a Lexus RX for long road trips, and that means anything over 100 miles.

My days of 300-mile road trips were over decades ago. I ll take a plane for anything more than a three-hour drive.

My Model S has a huge front trunk, a huge rear trunk, and a comfortable back seat with doors that open directly to it. The ELR has a low-tech, low-output 1.4-liter four-cylinder up front, a small trunk at the rear, and a backseat that barely fits my grandchildren. The Model S has a touchscreen I can use; using Cadillac s CUE is like trying to program a VCR. Blindfolded. On a roller coaster.


Also, the ELR s looks are opposite of every successful alternative-propulsion vehicle on the road: It s aggressive, brash, and in-your-face in a far-too-Tony-Soprano kind of way. That styling works fine in New Jersey or on a CTS-V coupe, which is admittedly … but directly contradicts the ELR s fuel-saving mission. I like that my Model S is understated.

This understatement is also the reason I have the Lexus RX which, by the way, is a hybrid.

A Potential Customer s View:

This is the guy who owns coupes because he values style above all else, who would love to save some money on gas and who s a bit of a label snob. In other words, a four-time BMW 3 Series coupe buyer, and exactly the guy Cadillac hopes the ELR will appeal to.

His reaction: It s great looking, but it s positively gutless. I don t care how much fuel I ll save if I can t out-accelerate a Prius. Frankly, I d rather buy a CTS Coupe with the 318 hp V6 for forty grand.

The $35,575 I save on the car will, according to the EPA, pay for gas for the next 232,000 miles.

When can I drive the new BMW M235i coupe?

The Chevrolet Volt Owner s View:

Wow, what an upgrade! The interior materials jump from rental car to luxury car. Cadillac has done wonders keeping the groaning four-banger hushed (including using Bose noise-cancelling technology) and the ELR is much quieter on the road.

It rides great and handles flat thanks to the low center of gravity and the adaptive shocks.

I can t figure out CUE, and on the test drive, it told me to exit and re-enter the freeway each time the exit ramp was a shorter distance than the highway, which was every time the road curved to the right. And I couldn t figure out how to shut it up. Or change the radio stations. Or do anything else, really.

It s a jumbled mess.

It took me thousands of miles to get used to my Volt s grabby, nonlinear, slow-to-respond wooden brake pedal. So I m right at home with the ELR s brakes they feel the same. Cadillac should do what Tesla did give me full regeneration when I pull my foot off the gas pedal and then use a non-blended brake system that actually slows the car down how and when I ask it to. You can use the steering wheel paddles to engage full regen, but they re not pressure- sensitive touch one, and the ELR just slowly fades into full regen. Want a little regen?

Can t have it. The paddles are a cute gimmick, but the Telsa system works much better. I d rather just control regen with the right pedal.

I love my car (and Consumer Reports says that most other Volt owners adore theirs, too), but I m a bit miffed that the price keeps dropping. The Volt s base price has fallen some $5285 since the car debuted in 2011. Then again, I could buy two new Volts for the price of one ELR, so maybe I did get a bargain.

I d sure love some prettier styling and a nicer interior, but $80K is out of my price bracket, and I like my Volt s usable backseat and hatch.

Your Author s Personal View:

Let s be honest, here the ELR should have come out before the Volt, not hit the market as the Volt is entering its fourth year of production. It s unfair to compare the ELR to the 1980s Cadillac Cimarron because the ELR offers a genuine step up from the car it s based upon. But GM is repeating the same basic mistake: Luxury brands don t survive by taking an entry-level car, slathering it with leather, and doubling the price.

Cadillac ELR Electric Cars

The ELR will forever be known as a $76,000 Volt, just as the Cimarron will forever be known as a Cavalier with a Cadillac crest.

If you want to charge a premium for something, you make it a premium, cutting-edge product. You use it as a platform on which to debut new technology and new styling; you load it full of The Future, and you sell it to people who have the means to buy tomorrow s tech today. And then, a couple years later, to help amortize the costs, you allow it to trickle down into the hands of the common people who will buy it at a discount.

GM has done this whole thing backward.

$76,000 is an astonishing amount of money for the ELR. And that s the base price my test car was $82,135. The only way I can begin to wrap my head around this is to imagine some executive in Detroit hearing that you can find a $100,000 Tesla Model S on every California street corner in every rich area from Malibu to Marin.

If Tesla does it, you can imagine their thought process. Cadillac can, too.

But it can t. Cadillac doesn t have the leading-edge image that Tesla does. (Do you think Tesla would sell a rebadged Nissan Leaf? Would Apple sell a rebadged Blackberry?) EV customers, like all early adopters, recognize ingenuity, and they reward it with their dollars. The ELR offers nothing new.

It breaks zero technological ground the Volt s fascinating powertrain did that years ago.

More importantly, customers buying an $80,000 Tesla Model S know that they are getting a car that s comparable to other $80,000 cars. Selling an ELR to someone means hiding the CTS Coupe in the back of the showroom: That conventional, gas-powered Cadillac has almost twice the power, is better proportioned, has a usable backseat, and drives better. Oh, and it costs about half as much.

The ELR is not a bad car. In fact, it drives very well. Its Watts-linkage torsion beam rear suspension is something you won t find in cars half this price (in fact, you ll pretty much find it nowhere because it s an ancient design), and its creaking bushings are the only big demerit in a suspension that does a commendable job of managing 20-inch wheels and 4050 lbs.

Once the battery is depleted (after 30 miles of mostly highway driving on our test loop), the iron-block gas engine fires up almost imperceptibly. After pushing the ELR hard, the 16-valve mill will thrum along at its 4800 rpm power peak, producing a scant 84 hp, and its sound is both inoffensive and very hushed. The ELR is fine around town (until you reach the limits of its nautical turning circle), but this coupe is truly happiest on the highway.

70 90 mph cruising is surprisingly relaxed and quiet.

Except that at those speeds, a quick prod of the throttle is often met with an unexpected and seemingly complete interruption of power while the computer orchestrates a drive mode change in the exceedingly complicated transmission. Our overall fuel mileage (in a mixed city/highway loop) once the battery was depleted averaged an indicated 30 mpg of premium fuel, highlighting the inefficiency of using a gas engine to power a generator instead of the wheels directly.

Of course, most people don t drive enough in a given day to fully deplete the battery, and it s in EV duty where the ELR really saves fuel. But with a sticker price this lofty, I can t help but think the ELR would need to be powered by nothing more than the hopes and dreams of some GM executive in order to make financial sense.

This Is A Developing Story

Cadillac ELR Electric Cars
Cadillac ELR Electric Cars
Cadillac ELR Electric Cars
Cadillac ELR Electric Cars

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