Cadillac unveiled a first ELR concept back in 2011, and ever since then everyone was pretty sure a production would also follow. Things got pretty clear in 2012 when a leak from OnStar confirmed Cadillac would dive into the hybrid realm with a vehicle not named Escalade. The model finally made its world debut at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, and according to the first official details we have, it offers "an unprecedented combination of luxury, advanced engineering and progressive design."
However, this is not the first time in Caddy’s long history that it has tread into the economy car world. The first one was the laughably Cavalier-like Cimarron. If you recall, Cadillac was so embarrassed by the Cimarron that the automaker refused to call it a Cadillac and instead dubbed it the “Cimarron by Cadillac." GM later forced a name change to “Cadillac Cimarron.”
Needless to say Caddy does not want to relive those days, so they took things pretty seriously with the design of the ELR. The model is being powered by the latest GM EREV technology that combines a pure electric drive and an efficient, range-extending 1.4-liter gasoline-powered electric generator.
The 2014 ELR looks almost similar to the Converj concept that inspired it and introduces a new "progressive theme and proportion in Cadillac’s design evolution." The model features Cadillac’s signature vertical headlights and vertical LED taillights, as well as the well-known trapezoid grille.
Next to making the ELR as elegant as possible, Cadillac also focused on delivering the best aerodynamics so the vehicle could "slip through the air with minimal drag." As a result, the ELR is being equipped with a flush front fascia and grille with active shutters behind the grille opening, tapered fascia corners, sharp edges at the rear and a carefully designed spoiler. Cadillac also installed an aggressive rake on the windshield and back glass and obtained an impressive 0.305 coefficient of drag.
The ELR offers a classic 2+2 layout and has been designed to offer the driver the best driving experience. The interior is trimmed in a combination of leather and authentic chrome and wood accents, while a carbon fiber trim is available as an option. The steering wheel is covered in leather and sueded microfiber, with the same material being used for the headliner.
As with all the other models launched in the past year, the new ELR is being offered with Cadillac CUE with Navigation, featuring a large eight-inch, full-color capacitive-touch screen in the center of the instrument panel. It also includes a touch screen with gesture recognition and offers details on driving efficiency, energy usage, charging options and more.
Additional features include:
- Eight-inch configurable instrument and driver information displays, offering four configurations ranging from elegantly simple to technologically enhanced information
- Auto-glide/power-assisted covered storage/cup holder in the center console
- Fold-down rear seat backs accommodate longer items, including multiple sets of golf clubs
- LED-powered accent lighting in the instrument panel and doors
- Available Opus semi-aniline leather seating.
Engine and Technology
We do know that the ELR will feature an electric drive unit, powered by a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack. In addition, the ELR will feature a four-cylinder electric generator that delivers a total of 207 horsepower. Not an engine, folks, a generator to provide power to the drive unit, much like the Volt.
Once the batteries become depleted, the generator kicks in to provide power to the electric drive unit, much like how an engine in gas cars spins the alternator to create current.
Using only the energy stored in the battery, the ELR will deliver a GM-estimated range of about 35 miles of pure electric driving, depending on terrain, driving techniques and temperature.
Additional contributors to the ELR’s driving experience include:
- Wide front and rear tracks -- 62.1 inches (1,578 mm) in front and 62.4 inches (1,585 mm) in the rear -- along with a long wheelbase (106.1 inches / 2,695 mm) and a low center of gravity
- HiPer Strut front suspension featuring lightweight forged aluminum components for reduced weight and more nimble, responsive action
- Dual-pinion, rack-mounted electric power steering system with premium ZF steering gear designed to provide excellent feedback while helping to save fuel
- A semi-independent rear compound-crank suspension with Watts link that incorporates weight-optimized trailing arms to absorb lateral forces, allowing the suspension to be tuned to handle vertical, forward and rearward motions
- Hydraulic ride bushings in the front and rear suspensions
- An electro-hydraulic regenerative brake system that captures energy and sends it to the battery pack
- Standard chassis control systems include anti-lock brakes, traction control and StabiliTrak electronic stability control.
There is no pricing as of yet, but we can make some reasonable assumptions. The Chevy Volt has a base MSRP of roughly $39K, depending on where you live. If Caddy is using the Volt’s drivetrain, it will likely upgrade it. Then add in some Cadillac-grade features and that stylish body, you are probably looking at a $70,000 base price.
The only true competition to the ELR is likely to come from the BMW i8. The Tesla Roadster is an EV, not a hybrid. That really leaves only the i8 as a true performance hybrid.
Let’s just say that the i8 is a beautiful car, just like the ELR. In addition, we already know that the i8 cranks out a combined 354 horsepower and can hit 60 mph in about five seconds, but that is on battery and gas power. The ELR will run strictly on an electric motor with a four-banger generator making extra juice as needed. This leads us to believe that the ELR will likely fall well above the 5-second mark in 0-to-60 time. The advantage goes to the BMW i8.
Don’t get us wrong here, the i8 looks awesome, but it is a tad over the top for the average driver. The ELR, on the other hand, just looks like a really sleek and compact Cadillac. There is some appeal to Cadillac staying true to its design on the ELR, as many automakers go crazy on these futuristic cars. We have to give the concept version of the ELR the upper hand on this one. Now, this could change once we see the final production model.
The i8 runs a massive $132,600, so the Cadillac certainly wins out there.
Without knowing all of the specifics on the Cadillac, it is hard to say what to do. Our gut instincts say to snag up an ELR the second their tires touch a showroom floor. Despite its lackluster sales, the Volt’s drivetrain has been tested and seems to be working just fine, as there are no complaints yet.
For now, we have to say just wait this thing out and we will pass on more information as it becomes available. We can offer our promise that the ELR, sans a drastic change from the original concept, will not end up in a “Worst Cars” article.