2014 Cadillac ELR review

12 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2014 Cadillac ELR review отключены
Cadillac ELR Electric Cars

2014 Cadillac ELR

An odd flagship if there ever was one, the ELR now sits at the top of Cadillac’s increasingly broad and increasingly world-class lineup. It’s what’s underneath this shapely coupe’s body that might raise a few eyebrows.

Its chiseled lines certainly look the part, yet a largely unchanged Chevrolet Volt platform and powertrain underpins and motivates the $75,000 ELR. A Volt, in case you were wondering, stickers for around $35,000.

That extra 40 big ones needs to buy a lot more than just leather trim and knee-shaking style. To see if it lives up to its pricetag, we plugged in and hit the road with Cadillac’s first-ever plug-in extended-range EV.

On the surface — literally, in this case — the ELR is a svelte car of the future. Derived from the brand’s 2009 Detroit show Converj concept, it is a show car brought to life. Inside, ELR boasts Cadillac’s latest CUE infotainment nestled into a cabin otherwise composed of supple leather trim.

Underneath, however, the ELR is mostly a Chevy Volt. An 84 horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine teams up with an electric drive motor for a total system output of 217 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque, a bump of about 68 ponies over the Volt. Nestled below the car’s center console and rear seat sits a T-shaped lithium-ion battery that tips the scales at 435 lbs. (the car weighs 4,050 lbs. overall).

A conventional transmission isn’t necessary given the electric powertrain.

Like the Volt, the ELR can run for about 37 miles on an electric charge before the gas engine kicks on to work as a charging generator. A tap of a console-mounted button lets drivers choose just when they want to use the electric motor.

Power is reduced in EV mode, meaning 0-60 mph takes a lengthy 8.8 seconds. In extended-range mode with the gas motor running, that time drops to a more reasonable 7.8 seconds, although neither figure is particularly quick.

Despite its Volt-derived powertrain, ELR does use GM’s more sophisticated HiPer strut front suspension to deliver improved cornering plus continuous-damping shock absorbers for a more premium ride. Out back, however, the Volt’s low-tech Watts link rear suspension setup carries over mostly unchanged.

What’s it up against?

Short of a Tesla Model S, we can’t think of any other ecofriendly flagship one might cross-shop against the ELR.

What’s it look like?

No question that the ELR is very pretty. Penned under the direction of GM design chief Ed Welburn, this is undeniably a … coupe — and one worthy of wearing the E name, which is for Eldorado as much as it is for electric .

ELR’s short overhangs and sculpted side profile make it look smaller than its 186 inch length might suggest. Amplifying that svelte look is a high belt line, big 20-inch alloy wheels and swept-back headlamps, all of which make the car’s body look downright dainty.

Moreover, nice details abound, including a Cadillac script carved into the head lamps and a fine chrome mustache above the rear license plate.

And on the inside?

Here’s where the ELR really feels like an $80,000 ride. What seems like an entire herd of Texas longhorns adorns nearly every surface inside the ELR including its seats, doors, center console and dashboard. Beautiful stitching, open pore wood paneling and hints of synthetic suede (more durable in a vehicular application) trim break up the buttery smooth hide.

Cadillac’s controversial CUE infotainment system commands attention in the center console. Designed to work kind of like a tablet computer, CUE is pretty to look at but frustrating to use. Simple commands require a lengthy glance away from the road ahead and an extra flick or two at the screen. Not helping matters are tiny steering wheel controls that are anything but ergonomic.

Even simply flipping through radio presets requires two taps when one should do.

Another LCD screen sits in front of the driver. Although it’s excessively busy at first glance, this highly configurable display actually offered few distractions. It presents information about the battery’s state of charge, the fuel tank’s capacity and even driving habits in a reasonably organized fashion.

Moreover, the display proved crisp even in bright sunlight, something we can’t say about the view out the glare-prone windshield and rear window.

But does it go?

Ignore those aforementioned 0-60 figures for a moment and note that the ELR’s torque peak occurs as soon as the gas pedal is depressed given the electric motor has virtually no spool up time to speak of. Careful throttle tuning means that the ELR accelerates like a luxury car, bounding forward with more enthusiasm than most drivers might expect. But it does so in a refined way befitting the crest-and-wreath brand.

Though the ELR feels peppy, it isn’t particularly quick even with a sport throttle tuning mode engaged. Highway passing prompts a deep stab at the throttle, which only serves to remind drivers that there isn’t much in reserve.

Cadillac ELR Electric Cars

We found little problem achieving upwards of 35 miles on a single charge, which takes around 5 hours to replenish on a 240V setup. Once the gas engine kicks over, a prominent thrum can be heard at idle as the mill settles in at its torque peak. But once under way, there’s little discernible difference other than a welcome power boost.

GM quotes a 33 mpg combined fuel economy figure for the ELR. That figure tested about right, but it isn’t especially impressive. On the other hand, this is a true example of your mileage may vary since many drivers may only use a gallon or two of gas a week or even a month if most of their trips are short.

Overall, ELR offers a roughly 350 mile range between electric and gas power; about 315 of those miles are using gasoline only, meaning that, unlike an EV, the ELR would have no problem driving coast-to-coast with no more than fuel stops.

Then again, everything above could apply to the Volt, so it’s important that the ELR stands apart in terms of the rest of the driving experience. First impressions don’t indicate much of a difference. The ELR has the same ultra-fast, light steering as the Volt, and both have the same heavy, highly compliant ride quality afforded by the bulky battery that lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity.

Turn things up a notch or two and the changes become more apparent.

Exhibiting virtually no body lean, the ELR corners more precisely than the Volt. Road noise is better filtered. Bumps register with less intrusion to the well-isolated cabin.

In short, the ELR is decidedly more upmarket — but, at twice the price, is it twice the car?

Leftlane’s bottom line

Chop $20,000 off of the ELR’s sticker price and it becomes a no-brainer purchase for those wanting style, upmarket driving dynamics and an eco-friendly EV-like ride.

But at $80,000-plus as tested, we’d lean toward buying a Volt and Cadillac’s own ATS for the same price. Seems like a better value to us.

2014 Cadillac ELR base price, $75,000. As tested, $80,680.

Adaptive cruise control/collision preparation, $1,995; Luxury package, $1,695; Crystal Red paint, $995; Destination, $995.

Photos by Andrew Ganz.

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