Strip away the 2014 Cadillac ELR’s sculpted coupe body, and underneath beats a heart very similar to the one in the Chevrolet Volt sedan. You would think, then, that launching a comparable car would be a simple task, with engineers able to breeze through already-completed tests, such as cold weather driving and calibration exercises.

Perhaps that would be true if the Cadillac ELR used the same tires and suspension settings as the Volt, but the ELR is meant to deliver a more engaging driving experience than its Chevrolet cousin.

That requires testing and calibration of the car’s anti-lock braking, traction control and stability control systems, and we can’t think of a better place to conduct winter testing in the lower 48 states than Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Cold weather is guaranteed (giving the ability to further validate battery performance and range), and snow and ice are virtual certainties, too. If you want to see how your car’s chassis will handle the worst of what nature dishes out, the Upper Peninsula in February can generally provide the ideal outdoor laboratory and testing grounds.

In the words of the ELR’s chief engineer, Chris Thompson, “Being able to test the ELR in extreme road conditions, like those we experienced here in the U.P., allows us to provide a ride-and-handling character unlike any EV on the market today. During this latest test, the ELR continued to perform beyond our expectations.”

Cadillac has a lot riding on the success of the ELR. It’s the first extended-range electric luxury vehicle offered by a major U.S. manufacturer, and its sales performance could help pave the way for future extended-range electric vehicles from GM and others.

Can the ELR be the runaway hit that the Chevrolet Volt, to date, hasn’t been? Will the ELR’s limited-production and higher trim add to its appeal? We’ll find out when the car hits dealer showrooms in early 2014.