Production of the Cadillac XLR-V will be extremely limited, numbering less than 1,000 examples annually, and ownership requires you to relinquish $94,485 for the car, $815 for destination charges, and $1,700 to Uncle Sam in the form of a gas guzzler tax. Put it all together and the total comes out to a clean and neat $100,000. That’s roughly $25,000 more than the regular XLR, a comparatively simple ride lacking the V’s stout powertrain, hand-crafted leather interior, tasteful visual tweaks, and upgraded suspension, steering, and braking components.
Whether or not these upgrades are worth the extra coin is a matter to be decided by individual shoppers. Blue-collar yahoos will opt for the affordable Chevrolet Corvette that comes out of the other door at GM’s Bowling Green, Kent., assembly plant, but those shelling out 100 g’s for the upper-crust 2006 Cadillac XLR-V will be rewarded with a rare ride offering supercar performance for thousands less than its exotic competitors.
As befitting the Cadillac badge and its $100,000 selling price, which includes an $815 destination charge and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax, the 2006 XLR-V is equipped with more than just a supercharged Northstar V8 engine. The hand-crafted leather interior features heated and cooled seats, a nine-speaker Bose surround sound system, XM satellite radio, a touch-screen navigation system, and 12 months of complementary OnStar Directions and Connections service including stolen vehicle tracking, hands-free calling, emergency assistance, and more.
Both occupants will benefit from front and seat-mounted side airbags, whereas the driver enjoys a heads-up display on the lower left corner of the windshield with a readout for speed and radio settings. There’s also a memory feature for the mirrors, climate control, audio system, power seat, and power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. That last item is wrapped in soft leather with controls for the radio and climate system, but it’s oddly oversized like the wheel used in the Corvette. Adding a bit more luxury and convenience are rain-sensing windshield wipers, rear parking sensors, a power trunk lid, and high-intensity discharge headlights with washers.
Nuts and Bolts
Besides the hand-crafted leather interior and some visual enhancements, the only thing separating the 2006 Cadillac XLR from the XLR-V is the hardware. Most notable is the Northstar 4.4-liter, 32-valve, dual overhead cam, supercharged V8 pushing 443 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 414 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm. A six-speed automatic with a manual mode is the only available transmission. Compare that powertrain to the regular XLR’s 4.6-liter Northstar V8, good for 320 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque using a five-speed automatic to deliver power to the rear wheels. Along with the extra power, the XLR-V brings about 150 pounds of added curb weight to the table.
A push-button starter button on the dash brings the Northstar engine to life, pushing spent exhaust fumes through the center-mounted quad tailpipes. Under the XLR-V’s skin is a performance-tuned suspension with double wishbones and stabilizer bars front and rear, while a Magnasteer speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system keeps the driver connected to the road. Aiding in the handling effort are 19-inch alloy wheels and Pirelli Euforia run-flat tires that measure 235/45 up front and 255/40 out back, behind which is a four-wheel antilock brake setup with discs significantly bigger than those found on the regular XLR.
Somewhat atypically, GM has avoided festooning its Cadillac performance lineup with oversized spoilers, exaggerated body kits, and various go-fast visual tweaks. Instead, the 2006 XLR-V is denoted by understated chrome “Supercharged” and “V” badges on the flanks, a chrome mesh grille above and below the bumper, and attractive 19-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels that replace the standard XLR’s 18s. The hood has a center dome making room for the supercharger while also visually imparting a sense of power. Quad chrome tailpipes are tucked in beneath the center of the rear bumper.
Like the base XLR, the V-series version exists as a two-passenger coupe with a retractable hardtop that folds into the trunk area much like the new Volvo C70 and Mercedes-Benz SLK. With a push of the button on the center console, the roof requires a leisurely 29 seconds to lower and 28 seconds to raise (not counting the four seconds it takes to power up the side windows). With the top up, the long but shallow trunk provides 11.6 cubic-feet of cargo room, though space shrinks to 4.4 cubic-feet with the top stowed.
Fine. The 2006 Cadillac XLR-V fails to impress in terms of cargo capacity. But, really, who buys a $100,000 performance convertible for weekly runs to the local megastore in search of provisions for a family of eight? Chances are, not many, so room for an overnight bag should be enough for most. If not, Cadillac salespeople have a nicely updated and spacious 2007 Escalade they’d love to see you in. But choose the ‘Slade and you’ll miss out on the XLR-V’s hand-crafted interior with soft leather and suede seats, and genuine wood applied to the steering wheel, door inserts, shift knob, and center console. Leather is stitched throughout the interior, including the roll bars, the dash, the center armrest, and the doors. Soft, matte plastics are used sparingly, and metal alloy has been added to the steering wheel spokes, the instrument panel, and the door panels. Collectively, the high-quality materials work with features like a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel and power heated seats to create a comfortable cockpit.
As with any car, there are a few detractions, including a narrow foot well necessitated by the wide powertrain tunnel, a high rear body line that results in limited visibility, and there’s still a smidge more build quality work to do. Noticed on our test car were irregular gaps around the trunk lid and headlights, welding splatter under the paint in the passenger door handle pocket, and doors that didn’t fit completely flush with the body. On a $15,000 car, these points would hardly be worth mentioning, but not when we’re talking about a $100,000 Cadillac.
Before popping open the 2006 Cadillac XLR-V’s recessed door handles and dropping into those narrow bucket seats, company officials had informed us of the car’s performance potential. It blasts from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, making the XLR-V the fastest production model ever produced by Cadillac. Its lateral acceleration of 0.94 g’s rivals supercars costing thousands more. Plus, body roll has been cut by 13 percent, and steering response is bumped 12 percent. Clearly, going fast in a straight line is only one of this Caddy’s tricks.
Though technically the same supercharged Northstar engine found in the STS-V, the 4.4-liter V8 loses a few horses and lb.-ft. of torque as applied to the XLR-V because of necessary differences in the exhaust manifold and oil pan. Even so, there’s 443 horsepower on tap and 414 lb.-ft. of torque, 90 percent of which is available from 2,200 rpm to 6,200 rpm, all used to motivate a ride that’s about 400 pounds lighter than the STS-V.
As one would expect, there’s no shortage of power when you drop the hammer on the XLR-V’s accelerator, as the rear Pirelli tires grip hard and launch the car into a breathtaking sprint. It’s during such aggressive runs that drivers will either love or hate what engineers have done with the exhaust. At slower speeds, there’s a subtle rumble and whine reminding you of the supercharged V8 under the hood, but gun it for a sudden burst of speed and special exhaust valves open up in the mufflers for what is supposed to be a meaner tone. When it works, it’s kinda cool. Problem is, as we noticed while flogging the XLR-V up and down mountain roads around Borrego Springs, the system is a bit inconsistent in its application, sometimes well-coordinated with throttle input but conspicuously delayed at other times. And, in situations when the driver is constantly on and off the throttle between quick corners, the result is a sound much like a street sweeper with a leaky exhaust gasket. Nice idea, but our experience indicates the system needs a bit more tweaking.
Not so with the hardware that makes the 2006 Cadillac XLR-V go, handle, and stop. As noted, engine power is abundant, and the six-speed speed automatic transmission is seamless in its operation. Like the STS-V, this Caddy has a rev-matching feature that keeps the rpms in the sweet spot for optimum power delivery. That’s assuming the driver doesn’t use the manual mode, which will run the engine up against the rev limiter if left to its own devices, and offers a nice little burble when decelerating and downshifting into a corner. Punch it heading out of that same curve and feel the rear end try to come loose, but the standard StabiliTrak stability control system keeps things in proper alignment. Disabling StabiliTrak might have upped the level of excitement, but with all of the Cadillac reps around, drifting around corners and writing our names with a couple of Pirelli pens didn’t seem like such a hot idea.
In hindsight, that might’ve been the only way to get a peep out of the tires, since they didn’t make a sound regardless of how hard a corner was tackled. Those beefy 19s provide tenacious grip, and serve to accent the stiff suspension and responsive handling. For shuffle-steering types, tossing the XLR-V through some S curves is a treat, exhibiting very little body roll and offering plenty of road feel via the large steering wheel. Braking is excellent with a well-modulated pedal and no evident fade, even after some tortuous driving.
FAQ and Specs
What colors are available for the 2006 Cadillac XLR-V?
The 2006 Cadillac XLR-V comes in Black Raven, Light Platinum, or Infrared with a Shale or Ebony leather interior.
Are there any options available on the 2006 Cadillac XLR-V?
Nope, just your choice of colors. Everything is standard.
If the 2006 Cadillac XLR-V is built alongside the Chevy Corvette, does that mean they’re essentially the same vehicle?
Though they are built in the same assembly plant, each is a distinct model with its own powertrain, suspension and braking components, body panels, and interiors.
Test Vehicle: 2006 Cadillac XLR-V
Base Price: $100,000 (including an $815 destination charge and $1,700 gas guzzler tax)
Engine Size and Type: Supercharged Northstar 4.4-liter V8
Engine Horsepower: 443 at 6,400 rpm
Engine Torque: 414 lb.-ft. at 3,900 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Curb Weight, lbs.: 3,810
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 15/22 mpg
Observed Fuel Economy: 12.3 mpg
Length: 177.7 inches
Width: 72.3 inches
Wheelbase: 105.7 inches
Height: 50.4 inches
Legroom: 42.6 inches
Headroom: 37.6 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: Two
Max. Cargo Volume: 11.6 cubic-feet
Competitors: Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Dodge Viper, Ferrari F430, Jaguar XKR, Lamborghini Gallardo, Maserati Gran Sport, Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG, Panoz Esperante GTLM, Porsche 911 Carrera S
Photos courtesy of Cadillac