Setting a new benchmark for the division's Art & Science design language, the 2014 Cadillac ELR took center stage on the automaker's stand in Detroit where it was seen for the first time in full production guise. Melding design cues drawn from the 2009 Cadillac Converj Concept that served as its inspiration with platform and powertrain elements closely related to the 4-door Chevrolet Volt, this striking new premium coupe represents the first application of Extended Range Electric Vehicle technology by a full-line luxury automotive brand.
"ELR is an unprecedented combination of luxury, advanced engineering and progressive design in a coupe that is both sporty and environmentally friendly," noted Bob Ferguson, Cadillac global vice president in describing the car. "This is a pivotal moment in Cadillac's history, as we continue our product-driven expansion. An additional aspect of ELR's appeal will be exclusivity. It will be a specialized offering produced in limited numbers."
Visually, the Cadillac ELR puts a unique spin on the division's sense of style, integrating signature vertical lighting units into angular but aero-contoured bodywork that feature aggressively raked front and rear glass complemented by numerous wind-cheating elements from a flush front grille with active shutters to hidden door handles. Collectively, they yield a fairly tidy 0.305 coefficient of drag.
Well-appointed and richly trimmed in leather and wood with tasteful chrome accents, the ELR's 2+2 cabin puts a contemporary spin on traditional Cadillac luxury. Offering alternative materials that run from ultra-premium Opus semi-aniline leather to carbon fiber, it also will present buyers with plenty of personalization opportunities. From highly-legible 8.0-inch configurable instrument and driver information displays to utility enhancing fold-down rear seatbacks, the ELR was designed to meet the division's highest standards for both quality and user-friendliness.
Highlighting this refined realm is the Cadillac CUE (Cadillac User Experience) with Navigation. Incorporating gesture recognition, proximity sensing and haptic switches, this multifaceted interface is accessible via its own 8.0-inch, full-color capacitive-touch screen in the center of the instrument panel as well as controls on the steering wheel. It can monitor and operate everything from infotainment to climate while keeping tabs on all aspects of the electrified part of the driving experience, from instant efficiency to energy use patterns to various charging options that may be available in the area.
While the E-REV powertrain and battery pack in the ELR is similar to the package used in the Volt, the Cadillac system develops 207 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque compared to the Chevy's 149/273 output stats. Both vehicles are limited to a 100-mph top speed, and while Cadillac has yet to release any 0-60 mph or MPGe figures, it has indicated that the 4,070-pound ELR should be able to travel about 35 miles on its fully charged 16.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack and have a maximum EV/Extended Range capability in excess of 300 miles. Recharge times are estimated at around 12 hours on a standard 120V wall outlet and closer to 4.5 on a dedicated 240V line.
While virtually all of its fundamental platform design is shared with the Volt, this new Cadillac variant benefits from a series of unique tweaks that include elements like quicker-ratio steering and Continuous Damping Control suspension in addition to the standard StabiliTrak stability/traction control systems and range-enhancing electro-hydraulic regenerative braking. Slightly longer, lower and wider than the Volt, the ELR also has a marginally longer wheelbase and more expansive track dimensions. Those elements, along with the fitment of 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/40 low-rolling resistance tires, should impart a serious measure of sportiness to its basic handling map.
Like the Chevy Volt, the 2014 Cadillac ELR will be manufactured at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant and is set to arrive in showrooms later this year. Pricing and other details on the ELR will be released closer to its on-sale date.
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