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Clearly relying on the styling the Mercedes-Benz SLK, the brand new Cadillac XLR shares the squared off look of other recent Cadillacs. It doesn't look bad at all, although the headlamps look as though they have been squeezed to suit alongside the wide grille. The performance puts up within the supercar class.

Top speed is restricted to 155 mph, therefore it may get to 60 mph in approximately 5.7 seconds - that's slightly quicker than the Jaguar XK, due to the larger engine. Other competitors range from the Mercedes-Benz SL and Porsche 911.

Looks may be deceiving. The car is wide and occasional, and appearance big. In fact, it is extremely compact, just 177.5 inches long and 72.2 inches wide. The vehicle looks pretty good, particularly from your side. And you obtain a very practical SLK-lookalike opening roof. I suppose most convertibles is going to be 'metal' convertibles soon, as well as the rag tops will disappear - not on all supercars. To save weight, the rooftop from the XLR is aluminum and magnesium.

Good output

Also, the XLR has quite a lot of power: 326 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 312 lb ft (423 Nm)at 4,400 rpm from GM's Northstar 4.6 liter V-8, that could work a bit harder - 350-360 bhp, which would not be nearly impossible to find using this engine, will make things more interesting.

Because it is, it is enough to give the car a serious shove, and because the Northstar has an aluminum block and head with dohc and 4 valves per cylinder, it revs well. Variable valve timing raises the spread of power, too.

The engine is coupled with a rear mounted five-speed automatic transmission - 5 speeds place it with a disadvantage against the European supercars which mostly have six-speed automatics, however it is built to give sporty shifts. As the box is rear-mounted and the engine is pretty well back, front/rear weight distribution is 50/50.

New frame concept

Based on GM's new platform for sporty cars given to the Corvette, the XLR includes a fairly light frame of hydro-formed steel tubes. Hydroforming changes the design quite dramatically, investing in bends, changing the section to some rectangle and so forth, creating a lightweight frame. The passenger compartment is aluminum, and the entire body panels are composite plastics. It is a structure that will contend with many a supercar.

It is a fairly light structure, and despite the advanced level of apparatus, the car weighs a proper 3,643 lb (1,654 kg) which can be just 130 lb greater than the brand new lightweight Jaguar XK, as well as quite a bit greater than the Corvette with a lower spec but bigger engine.

Double wishbone suspension

Suspension will be the familiar Corvette style of double wishbones back and front with transverse leaf springs. It makes sense a simple, lightweight system that gives more roll stiffness - potential to deal with roll - than coil springs. Also, the spring rate is progressive, so it irons out big bumps in the road nearly as easily as little ones. Additionally there is a front anti-roll bar.

To save lots of weight, the double wishbones front and back are aluminum; needless to say, the composite leaf springs are light, too. Leaf springs of the type - just one leaf - are in fact quite advanced technology as they don't locate the wheels, and incorporate some clever manufacturing techniques.

The dampers are the new continuously variable electro-magnetic type, and also the steering is speed sensitive, so that you have more assistance at low speed.

Because a Cadillac, it arrives with a high specification. For Europe, navigation, and heated/cooled seats are standard as are adaptive speed control and a head-up display. The interior, having its wood, leather and aluminum trim is very pleasant

On the highway

Integrated the same plant and also to the identical concept as the Corvette, the Cadillac XLR is better thought of a softened up Corvette meant for people who need a better ride.

Visibility is good thanks to slim pillars in the opening roof, and also the almost flat hood. Such as the Corvette both the instruments and driving position are good. There's also a head-up display which shows merely the speed and which gear you have, and you also are not appearing capable of shut off. Pity. I didnrrrt think it is useful.

The steering isn't bad whatsoever, as well as the XLR turns in well, as you'd expect your weight distribution, however when you commence pressing, you commence to feel just a little understeer coming in, which is not a bad thing for that market this can be directed at - more the luxury sports car the hard charging supercar driver. Nevertheless the car will not corner as quickly as you can with additional neutral steering.

The automated is good. In D, the performance is not bad whatsoever, as well as the kick-down is fairly aggressive. Gleam manual mode. Push the lever across on the left, and then nudge it forward for up, and back for down. This works well, and actually can be a manual. After all, a few of these actually shift up whenever you hit peak revs. Not this; it really lets you stay there till you're all ready.

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