Like the idea of the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric sedan, but want something with a bit more luxury and presence? Your wait will soon be over, as Cadillac is debuting its own version of the GM Voltec drivetrain at this week’s Detroit Auto Show.
Like the Volt, the Cadillac ELR is essentially an electric car. When its 16.5 kWh battery pack is depleted, a 1.4-liter gasoline engine starts up to power a range-extending generator. Like the Volt, range on batteries alone is an estimated 35 miles, condition-dependent. Since Cadillac is expected to deliver better performance, the rated output of the ELR’s drivetrain is upped to 207 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, up from 149 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque in the Volt.
Cadillac has yet to publish performance numbers, but we expect the ELR will be quicker than the Volt’s 9.2 seconds for the run from 0-60 mph. It’s likely that the top speed will be raised above the Volts 100 mph, too, but performance really isn’t the raison d’etre behind the ELR: style is.
Outside, the ELR carries on the angular styling of the ATS, CTS and XTS models, but manages to spin it in an even more modern interpretation. Sure, the trademark vertical head lamp and tail lamp elements (used in Cadillac design since 1948) are there, but there’s no denying that the ELR looks like it just rolled out of some time warp, from a few decades in the future.
Inside, the cabin is a blend of the traditional and the high-tech. Sure, there’s plenty of leather, wood and microfiber to satisfy your senses, but there’s also a heavy infusion of technology. The ELR gets a version of Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, which recognizes voice commands as well as gestures. The car also serves up four driving modes, including Sport and Tour (which are self-explanatory), Mountain (which fires up the generator to ensure sufficient power when needed) and Hold (which runs the car in generator mode to preserve battery power for later use).
The Hold mode is designed for drivers who mix city and highway driving on their daily commute. Highway miles quickly consume battery charge, so the ELR (and the Volt) are best run on battery power in an urban environment, and on generator power on the highway.
Cadillac has yet to announce ELR pricing, as the car is still roughly a year away from launch. If all goes as planned, production will begin at GM’s Hamtramck plant in late 2013.