NotoriousLuxury: 2007 Cadillac XLR-V

The XLR-V moves with tremendous verve and élan

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The XLR-V… the Bold and the Beautiful

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“As the Standard of the World Turns”

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The XLR-V is Cadillac’s highly spirited Flagship hardtop/roadster that can crank 443 horses. It is at home in the Hamptons as well as sprinting a nice leafy run on the interstate. The XLR-V is a luxury car with formidable performance and excellent road manners. It was built at the same Bowling Green, Kentucky plant as the Corvette. As quiet as it’s kept, the Cadillac XLR shares some of the same components.

The 2007 XLR-V is so comprehensively equipped that there were no options. With its near 50/50 weight distribution, high performance suspension, and supercharged V8 engine, it was intended to set new standards among the competition. The Cadillac XLR-V was priced in excess of $100,000. It was a suave, sophisticated roadster built for those who desired to move with tremendous verve and élan. This is another avant-garde performance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The Cadillac XLR is a descendant of the Evoq concept vehicle. The XLR-V was to Cadillac as AMG is to Mercedes-Benz SL. The 2007 Cadillac XLR-V competed with some of the world’s finest open tourers. The “V” Series are Cadillac’s “hot rods.” The aggressive styling made it look “viciously powerful” even when it was parked.

The “V” Series was meant to take on BMW’s “M-powered” rockets, the McLaren SLR, Jaguar XKR, and the Porsche 911 cabrio. It is the fastest and most exclusive Cadillac ever built. The XLR-V was built at a restricted pace to retain its exclusivity. The Cadillac XLR was built from 2004 until 2009, the XLR-V was built from 2005 through 2009. The 2007 Cadillac XLR-V was 177.7” in length, rode upon a 105.7” wheelbase with a 72.3” width.

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At the touch of a button the XLR-V folds and stows its hardtop into the trunk. A joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Porsche created “Car-Top Systems,” the supplier of the XLR-V’s ingenious hardtop. When closed, there is NO wind noise or rattles and it was water tight…it was a hardtop coupe without tell-tale signs of its other personality. The top operated in less than 30 seconds either opening or closing. This unique retractable hardtop is made of aluminum and magnesium with composite exterior panels. It includes glass rear quarter windows and a heated back glass.

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The Cadillac XLR-V delivered 21st century architecture in a sporting open tourer. The Cadillac XLR-V delivered 21st century architecture in a sporting closed roadster. It was the best of both worlds. The XLR-V was a completely different expression of Cadillac luxury. It has a poised dignity that was the hallmark of every Cadillac.

It wasn’t targeting the traditional Cadillac buyer…the XLR-V was for the driver seeking prestige in a hyper-luxury roadster. Had Cadillac refined it further and marketed it differently, the XLR-V could have been in Lamborghini’s class one day. But Cadillac was way too busy being all things to everyone’s whims, when it shouldn’t be so…Cadillac needs to remember “To thine own self be true”…it is a luxury brand, a NOTORIOUS luxury brand. This diluted the Cadillac image wafer thin.

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The most provocative feature of the Cadillac XLR-V was the “Keyless Access” which rendered it virtually keyless. All that is required is the presence of its key fob in a pocket or purse to operate the car. The fob communicated intuitively with the XLR-V’s body computer control module through radio antennas built into the bodywork. All the driver had to do was step on the brake pedal while pushing the start button then slipping the transmission into gear.

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The XLR introduced a new approach to vehicle interiors for the 2006 model year. The leatherwork was done by artisans who specialize in laser cutting, wrapping, and stitching leather components. The XLR-V featured a fully leather upholstered interior unlike regular production vehicles with ‘leather-faced’ only upholstery that used more vinyl than hides. The warmth of genuine Zingana wood graced this intimate two-seater…which were two of the most enviable seats in all of motordom.

The XLR-V was equipped with heated and cooled seat cushions. A 7” touch-screen monitor allowed the driver and passenger to access DVD navigation, audio system, CD changer controls, digital signal processing modes, and XM Satellite radio. BULGARI the high-end Italian watch maker designed the instrumentation to add to the XLR-V’s exclusivity. BULGARI analog instrumentation included a 160 mph speedometer, a 7,000 rpm tachometer with a 6,500 rpm redline, and small coolant and fuel gauges.

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As far as technology, Cadillac always led the way. The Cadillac XLR was among the first vehicles to use Adaptive Forward Lighting technology. The headlamps automatically adjusted the lighting pattern to keep in sync with vehicle steering. The Cadillac XLR used GM’s first radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).

It used a sensor mounted to the front of the car that scanned to detect objects in its path. If there was a clear lane, there was no intervention, the system maintained the selected speed. If an object was detected in the same lane, the system adjusted the speed to keep a safe following distance between the vehicle and the object. ABS, four-wheel independent suspension,  four-wheel disc brakes, as well as side airbags were standard. The side airbags offered head protection.

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The supercharged 4.4 litre 32-valve V8 engine produced 443 hp @ 6,400 rpm with 561 Nm of peak torque @ 3,900 rpm. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds, 0-100 mph in 10.9 seconds with a top speed of 183 mpg. It did the ¼ mile @ 109 mph in 12.9 seconds. This was a different version of the Northstar engine. This exclusive LC3 Northstar powerplant was built off-site at the GM Performance Build Center located in Wixom, Michigan. This version was hand assembled to exacting standards from start to finish by one craftsman…and one craftsman only.

The supercharged 4.4 litre V8 combined advanced technology and hand crafting. The advantages of the 4.4 litre Northstar are: 1) cylinder heads are aluminum  debored to 4.4 litres from the standard 4.6 litre 2) heavy-duty pistons and connecting rods were used, 3) the displacement was reduced for block durability using a supercharger, and of course, being assembled by one technician increased consistency of quality. The XLR base model used the 4.6 litre version that produced 320 hp @ 6,400 rpm. Both the 4.4 & 4.6 litre V8 engines used aluminum heads for the XLR application.

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The supercharged 4.4 litre DOHC V8 featured Variable Valve Timing (VVT), electronically controlled hydraulically actuated intake and exhaust cam phasers on all four cam shafts, Electronic Throttle Control (ETC), low restriction intake & exhaust manifolds and cylinder head ports, an air induction system with optimized capacity and noise attenuation, and close coupled catalytic converters mounted directly adjacent to exhaust manifolds. The supercharger and four intercoolers are built directly into the intake manifold. The XLR was the first longitudinal application of the Northstar engine. The engine was equipped with sequential fuel injection and a GM Roots-type Helical Rotor Eaton-Supercharger.

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The near perfect 50/50 balanced weight distribution is achieved with the longitudinally mounted V8 engine up front and an electronic gearbox fitted to the rear. The 6-speed GM 6L80 Hydra-Matic was one of the most technologically progressive automatic transmissions available today.

When the gear selector is moved to the right side of the gate, Driver Shift Control provided clutch-less manual shifts, and the automatic advancement of suspension characteristics into performance-handling mode. Sophisticated algorithms kept the car in the correct gear to suit the situation.

The rear mount of the transmission aided the superior balance and enhanced traction abilities. With the transmission mounted to the rear, there is no transmission tunnel, thus increasing the footwell space. A 50/50 weight distribution optimizes ride and handling characteristics.

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The Cadillac XLR possessed a bit of Corvette technology which makes it intriguing. It used a unique GM patented performance car structure. The GM/Delphi-developed Magnetic Ride Control system provided real-time shock damping. A unique “Magneto-Rheological” shock fluid expedited optimum body and wheel control. This sophisticated system used four wheel-to-body displacement sensors measuring wheel motion and adjusted the shock damping in less than one millisecond. This is five-times faster than previous real-time damping systems.

The XLR-V was a true luxury roadster with the handling qualities of a high performance car. Its excellent handling was due in no small part to its four wheels being anchored close to the ends of the car with double wishbones at each wheel. It had transverse mounted composite leaf springs fitted to both front and rear.

The XLR-V’s structure consisted of hydro-formed frame rails like the Vette, with an enclosed structural tunnel. The aluminum cockpit used balsa-cored composite floors. The Cadillac XLR shares the Corvette’s rear-drive “Y” platform. The Cadillac XLR-V came standard with run-flat tires. Aside from the suspension and body structure, the XLR-V also shared many of the same electronics, driveline components, brakes, heating & air conditioning components as the Corvette.

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The Cadillac XLR was originally set to be designed for GM’s Sigma platform used by the Cadillac CTS. After thorough comparison the Corvette’s “Y” platform was ideal for the XLR because it had already been engineered to accept the Corvette’s underpinnings. The XLR was not intended to be a “Vette” nor compete with one. It was Cadillac’s interpretation of a performance-luxury roadster which is where the idea went astray.

The journalists were either trying to make an “SL-Benz” or Corvette out of the XLR when they completely overlooked the fact that this hyper-luxury roadster was CADILLAC-style not intended to mock or replace the aforementioned. The World was more inclined to think “DeVille/Fleetwood” when the Cadillac brand name is mentioned, never as a roadster, as the Cadillac Allante proved to be a lead balloon. But the Allante’s atrocities were real-time quality control issues that killed it. The XLR’s composite bodywork scared many as well…$100,000 for a thermoplastic car? (EEK and the mention of the Northstar engine?)

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All roadsters are not created equal. The 2007 Cadillac XLR-V is proof. It is the quickest, most agile, not to mention the most exclusive Cadillac ever built. This sophisticated aerodynamic envelope is capable of 0-60 mph acceleration in less than five seconds. The exclusive 4.4 litre 32-valve DOHC V8 produces 433 horses and was precision hand-crafted by a single technician from start to finish. The Cadillac “V” Series are the brand’s high performance hot rods. This unique roadster had an ingenious folding hardtop that opened and closed in less than 30 seconds.

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This 21st century roadster was equipped with every convenience standard with no options available. Its avant-garde design, world-class technology, and outstanding road manners weren’t enough to gain popularity. A Cadillac buyer just wasn’t in the market for a two-seat roadster. When one thinks Cadillac…a decadently luxurious land-yacht comes to mind.

The XLR-V’s $100,000 price tag, composite thermoplastic body, and Northstar notoriety were all sales deterrents for this magnificent roadster. But the XLR-V is still a formidable driving sports car…and it is still a Cadillac. Many tried to pair it with the Mercedes-Benz SL, BMW M-powered rockets, and other cars in this class when they shouldn’t have. The XLR-V is a unique and contemporary expression of Cadillac performance and presence. The Cadillac XLR-V is a milestone vehicle cameo appearance…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Just more superlative-superlatives………in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

8 Responses to “NotoriousLuxury: 2007 Cadillac XLR-V”

  1. Catherina Rolfson

    The XLR-V moved with tremendous verve and élan The XLR-V… the Bold and the Beautiful

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