Car Brief: 2008 Cadillac XLR
So how do you improve upon the Corvette for connoisseurs? You add more stuff.

August 2007
BigThreeNews.com

The XLR roadster, Cadillac’s bold entry into the elite club of luxury convertibles, adds a dash of exclusivity to its unique combination of performance, advanced technology and dramatic design. The XLR is an icon for Cadillac’s ongoing renaissance, expressing the brand’s resurgence in the categories of serious performance, image, luxury and technical sophistication.

The XLR represents the top of the Cadillac range with two basic models: the XLR with a 320-horsepower 4.6L Northstar V-8 VVT; and the XLR-V high-performance variant – the quickest and most agile Cadillac ever offered – with a 443-horsepower 4.4L Northstar V-8 supercharged engine.

For 2008, Cadillac adds more exclusivity by introducing a limited-edition model. The 2008 Alpine White Limited Edition XLR features a chrome grille and 18-inch chrome wheels. The Alpine White XLR follows 2007’s Passion Red XLR, which quickly sold out last year.

Cadillac also will continue its highly exclusive XLR Platinum series, injecting even more luxury into the brand’s portfolio with luxury touches that include a hand-crafted leather interior. Six exterior/interior color combinations are available for 2008: Black Raven (Ebony/Cashmere); Goldstream Metallic (Burl/Cashmere); Liquid Amethyst (Burl/Cashmere); Light Platinum (Ebony/Cashmere); Elektra Blue (Ebony/Cashmere); Crystal Red (Ebony/Cashmere).

Also for 2008, the Cadillac XLR adds a heated steering wheel and an improved version of Cadillac’s acclaimed Magnetic Ride Control system. XLR’s shock damping system is revised for 2008, extending the car’s already impressive blend of agility and ride quality. Other advanced technologies include Adaptive Forward Lighting that enables the headlamps to swivel in concert with vehicle steering; a head-up display; StabiliTrak; heated and cooled seats; Keyless Access with push-button start; and DVD navigation and entertainment.

The XLR offers the ultimate convenience of a retractable hard top. By pushing and holding a single button, the XLR can convert from coupe to open roadster in less than 30 seconds. The top is made of aluminum and magnesium with composite exterior panels, a heated glass backlight and glass rear-quarter windows.

The interior design expresses contemporary luxury. Unique eucalyptus wood in light or dark tones, combined with striking aluminum accents, provide a luxurious and inviting environment. The gauges were designed in conjunction with Italian luxury brand Bvlgari.

The XLR’s continues with the Northstar 4.6L V-8 with variable valve timing. It is a 90-degree, DOHC, four-valves-per-cylinder engine featuring an aluminum block and cylinder heads, and a valvetrain configuration with roller finger followers. It generates 320 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque.

The V-8 offers smooth, refined performance throughout its entire operating range. It is quiet, yet tuned to give the driver feedback from the environment. It operates cleanly and efficiently, with excellent reliability and durability. The 4.6L V-8 is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

An advantage of Cadillac’s roadster not shared by competitors is its rear-mounted transmission. This helps give the XLR a virtual 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution for superior balance, as well as providing occupants with unusually roomy footwell space.

The XLR uses the same world class platform as the Chevy Corvette, featuring steel hydroformed perimeter frame rails, an enclosed structural “tunnel,” an aluminum cockpit configuration and balsa-cored composite floors. Providing rigidity without bulk, and with exceptional resistance to torsional and bending forces, this structure is the foundation for the XLR’s outstanding ride and handling characteristics.

The suspension system makes the XLR a true luxury roadster with the handling qualities of a performance car. The design uses double wishbones at each corner, combined with transverse-mounted, composite leaf springs front and rear. The system is designed to maintain firm control over wheel motion, while delivering a composed and compliant ride quality. The XLR achieves a maximum lateral G-force of more than 0.9. It runs on Goodyear EMT tires with advanced run-flat technology that eliminate the need for a spare and provide outstanding overall tire performance. For 2008, the XLR offers optional chrome wheels.

The XLR was one of the world’s first vehicles to be equipped with Magnetic Ride Control – electronically controlled, magnetic-fluid based real-time damping.

Standard on XLR and XLR-V, The system uses four wheel-to-body displacement sensors to measure wheel motion over the road surface and responds by adjusting the shock damping at speeds approaching one millisecond. The secret is the magneto-rheological fluid contained in its dampers, replacing traditional mechanical valves. Suspended in this fluid are tiny iron particles that respond to an electromagnetic charge.

A different piston profile new for 2008 improves damping capability and decreases shock temperatures, resulting in a new calibration for the vehicle and improved ride and handling.

XLR features Keyless Access, making it a truly “keyless” car. A driver can simply keep the fob in a pocket or purse to operate the doors, trunk and ignition. The fob communicates with the XLR’s computer control system via radio antennas under the car’s bodywork. The system is intuitive and hassle free.

Seatbacks and cushions are heated and cooled. For 2008, a heated steering wheel is added. A seven-inch color touch screen mounted in the upper center console gives driver and passenger access to DVD navigation; a nine-speaker Bose audio system with a six-CD in-dash changer and digital signal processing modes; XM Satellite Radio , and DVD entertainment. The XLR also is equipped with a head-up display that projects key driver information onto the windshield.

The XLR has adaptive cruise control. While not a substitute for full driver attention, this system expands the convenience of cruise control. The system uses a radar sensor mounted at the front of the car to detect objects in its path.

If the lane ahead is clear, the system maintains the set speed, just like conventional cruise control. When it detects a vehicle in the same lane in front of the car, the system adjusts speed to help maintain a constant following distance, set by the driver.