Even if you’re not entirely a car person, you’ve likely noticed and perhaps even lusted after the stylish Cadillac CTS-V Coupe—perhaps in a way that you haven’t seen Cadillac before. Now take some of that same gravitas, and plug it in, and you get some of the essence behind the all-new 2014 Cadillac ELR.
The ELR is built on the same platform that underpins the Chevrolet Volt, with essentially the same extended-range electric-vehicle (EREV) propulsion system—including the 16.5-kWh battery pack, and the same 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood. You’ll get about 35 miles of driving on electric power alone before the gasoline engine fires up seamlessly to provide range-extending power for the motor system (as well as traction-motor support at higher speeds).
But thanks to revised software and calibration, as well as a new Sport driving mode, GM has managed to eke more performance from the electric system: The electric motor system delivers a bit more: 207 hp (154 kW), with 295 foot-pounds of instant torque, and 0-60 times are expected to be eight seconds, or possibly even a bit better than that.
Doing more with the Volt
“We’ve found ways to exercise the battery more, and done more with motor control,” said chief engineer Chris Thomason, who confirmed that the ELR does use a wider depth of charge for the battery pack compared to that of the Volt.
Powertrain and underbody aside, according to the team behind the ELR, that’s where the similarities end. Designers managed to preserve most of the 2009 Converj Concept’s sheetmetal and rakish proportions—with top-notch details such as jewel-like all-LED headlamps and taillamps, as well as a flush-look version of the Cadillac eggcrate grille, with active grille shutters beneath. And in order to get the right ride quality, refinement, and low rolling resistance out of huge 245/40R20 tires—to keep the proportions on the outside—Cadillac looked to Bridgestone to develop a special OEM version of its Potenza line.
Performance takes a step up in the ELR, too—and better handling and a more refined ride should be a big part of it. Cadillac started by borrowing the front suspension layout from the Opel Astra GTC, incorporating a HiPer strut layout (but with a transverse brace across the bottom), and a Watt’s linkage in back. Then it fitted hydraulic ride bushings, as well as the Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system that’s used in other Cadillac models, like the SRX. And to provide the right attitude the Sport mode makes accelerator response more aggressive while firming up the suspension and steering feel.
Truly a luxury car in every respect
To keep it quiet inside the plush cabin, there’s standard active noise cancellation, with a Bose ten-channel premium sound system included, and the now-familiar CUE system at the center of the instrument panel, with proximity sensing, natural-voice commands, and capacitive touch controls, just as in the ATS, CTS, SRX, and XTS. The gauge cluster is an eight-inch reconfigurable display with four different layouts, and EV-specific displays.
Also of note is the materials that are going into the ELR’s cabin. Although the ELR will come in a limited number of build combinations, it has an almost ‘bespoke’ look, with new surfaces like microfiber, real piano-black wood, real carbon fiber, and trivalent chrome—all with exposed stitching and interesting cutlines that flow organically downward to the center console and back around the doorsills.
No fast charging; but charged back to full in a workday
With all that’s different from the Volt, one thing isn’t going to change: There are no plans for fast-charging. Although GM does say that the ELR can be charged on 240 volts in just 4.5 hours.
The ELR will be made at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck (Michigan) assembly plant, alongside the Chevy Volt, but it’s not limited to the U.S. Look for it to also put a redemptive sheen on Cadillac’s lineups for China and Europe as well.