2014 Cadillac ELR

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An expensive alternative

Date Posted: October 23, 2014
By Zack Spencer

A two-door electric car has a limited market

We often lament the fact that many of the concept cars we see at the international auto shows never make it to the light of day Well, the Cadillac ELR looks every bit like a futuristic concept and it is available today. This car is something to see, especially in person, with sweeping lines and aggressive front lights, like a spaceship. In fact it won the 2013 Eyes on Design Award at the North American International Auto Show, an award judged by all of the heads of design form each automaker in attendance…that’s some judging panel At first glance it has more than a passing resemblance to the Cadillac CTS Coupe but underneath is a very different platform.

Looks

This is essentially the Chevrolet Volt electric car, morphed into a Cadillac, with two less doors. Taking what Cadillac learned from the CTS coupe and transplanting that look onto an electric car has made the ELR a high-end electric alternative, to say a Tesla. The two-door design has hidden electronic door handles that release by touching a pad inside the recessed door handle. Not to worry, there is a redundant mechanical mechanism. The 20-inch wheels have specially designed tires for efficiency and handling. The trunk is a good size for a small sporty coupe, but it is the front where all the jewelry is showcased. The headlamps are stunning to see during the day or at night. The vertical daytime running light are Cadillac’s signature now and they look fantastic.  The LED headlamps along with rear LED lights make this a true luxury product.

Inside

The same futuristic and luxury approach continues on the inside. The materials used are spectacular, rich and welcoming. Cadillac combines alcantara (faux suede), chrome, wood, hand cut and sown leather seats and available carbon fibre. This combination of colours and textures, combined with the sweeping shape is first rate. This interior can stand on  its own with any other luxury brand. Cadillac uses the same Cue infotainment and communications system throughout its line of products and it features a rich graphics package with cutting edge connectivity. But this car isn’t without fault. The touch sensitive centre console isn’t for everyone; some might prefer traditional knobs and buttons and the high gloss surfaces can show dirt quickly. Then there is the back seat or lack of. This isn’t a four-seat car but a two-seater with storage for a gym bag. Why this has back seats is a mystery.

Drive

The Chevrolet Volt is the best selling electric car in Canada, not the Tesla or the Nissan LEAF. People have come to realize that the combination of electric range and a gasoline-extending generator is a good compromise; it isn’t all electric or nothing. The ELR, just like the Volt it is based on, is plugged in and charged, usually overnight. It takes over 12-hours on a typical 120V plug to get the job done or about 5 hours on a more powerful 240V system. Once charged, the car runs on electricity for about 65km before the gasoline extender kicks in to allow the driver to run up to 480km, or longer, if the car is refueled. The 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and the electric motor puts out 295 lb.-ft of torque to the front wheels, similar power to the Cadillac 3.6L gasoline engine used in other products. One way to extend the electric range is to use regenerative braking to help recharge the battery. The paddle shifters behind the steering wheel do that. The driver can use these in combination with the regular brake to modulate driving. It takes practice but is kind of fun.

Verdict

Here is the part that is hard to swallow, the price. The ELR starts at $78,250-- lot of money for any car. This is a very limited market, a two-door sporty looking Cadillac that is also electric. If they made this into a sexy 4-door, the ELR would have more takers. As it stands, Telsa seems to have that market cornered for sexy and expensive electric cars. What the Cadillac has over the Tesla is a world-class interior, something Tesla has fallen short on. On the flipside, Tesla has a huge available electric range without the aid of a gasoline engine. So the market for the ELR is limited. If you are in the market for a two door futuristic ready to drive concept car, this one is very well executed; it turns heads everywhere it goes.

The Lowdown

Power: 115kW EV, 295 lb-ft of torque

Fill-up: 2.8 L equivalent/ 2.9 L equivalent/100km (city/highway) 

Sticker price: $78,250

 

What the Cadillac has over the Tesla is a world-class interior
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