2014 Cadillac ELR test car in New York's Hudson Valley, March 2014Enlarge Photo
Let's get one thing out of the way up front: The 2014 Cadillac ELR is rather more than a "tarted-up Volt," in the words of more than one commentator.
It's a quiet, smooth, adequately powerful and very stylish coupe with a luxurious interior, and it runs on GM's most advanced range-extended electric powertrain.
2014 Cadillac ELR at Detroit-HamtramckEnlarge Photo
On the other hand, it's effectively a two-person compact car--and it appears to be priced about $30,000 too high.
As Consumer Reports concluded in December, the ELR coupe is simply "priced out of its league."
Cadillac says it's meant to appeal to self-made entrepreneurs who makes $200,000 a year or more, and are willing to treat themselves to a luxurious $80K car.
We're skeptical, however, that anyone who may be considering, say, a BMW 640i Coupe (base-priced just $400 more than the ELR), with its 315-hp twin-turbo straight-six engine, will cross-shop a Cadillac. If that happens, we suspect the CTS Coupe would be a far more likely comparison.
2014 Cadillac ELR revealed at 2013 Detroit Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
Striking shape, luxe inside
Still, the ELR's shape is striking, and it's a real eye-catcher to the public at large. We got numerous thumbs-up gestures on the highway, and pretty much everyone we showed it to was impressed, if not downright wowed.
The wedge profile of the Converj concept car shown way back in 2009 has been translated to a production car almost intact, and if you want a car to help you engage passers-by in conversation, this one is it. Maybe not as much as, say, a Fisker Karma--but close.
On the other hand, the roofline and two-door profile make the rear seat suitable only for small adults. We did manage to stuff a full-sized adult person back there, but he was unhappy and cramped--and to get any legroom at all, he had to bargain with the front-seat passenger. Like most coupes smaller than, say, a Bentley Continental GT, this is really a two-person car.
The interior is luxurious, with just enough irregularity in the leather and suede stitching to convey a hand-crafted look. (And the ELR smelled nice every time we got inside, too.)
Where the Volt uses hard plastic, the Cadillac has soft surfaces and far nicer materials--not to mention such luxury flourishes as LED headlamps, taillamps, and daytime running lights; Cadillac's CUE touchscreen display and voice-activated control system; and a variety of standard and optional electronic safety systems.