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Cadillac XLR and XLR-V

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Comments

  • 213cobra213cobra Posts: 12
    The current SL has some visual appeal from some perspectives, but the wheelbase is too short for the body. The overhangs are proportionately Camaro-like, making the side view gawky compared to the Cadillac. The sheet metal sculpting is just sexy enough to distract the casual eye from that unfortunate lack of grace.

    If you prefer the '90s aesthetic of the SL, I have no argument with that. It's what you like so you should be happy with it. The XLR styling is polarizing and that's good for a brand mounting a comeback. The XLR-V has equal or better street presence to the SL, and is elegant in a sharp-creased Hugo Boss way. I prefer it to the dated aesthetic of the Merc. The interiors are quite dissimilar. The XLR-v's is more functional, unfussy, and clean. 360 degrees of leather, sightlines are excellent for this type of car, and all the touch points feel fine. Textured metal, wood, leather all around, with tactile plastics where appropriate. The SL is "too too...." Overwrought; soft; too obvious about making a statement of personal wealth, IMO.

    Now if you don't think the XLR feels like a $75K product, I probably can't change your mind. But understand that the V is a radically upgraded car in every way, from its base sibling. At $100K, the thoroughly revised engine and the new transmission alone fully justify the difference, not to mention the rest of the upgrades in performance, functions and aesthetics. Really, until you drive a V, you can't appreciate how staggering the difference is over the base car. Nor what the SL is contending with.

    Sure, a lot of people just buy brand and for them, Mercedes is a default. An SL says "I've made it." Those people cannot be reached by Cadillac for awhile. There wouldn't be enough Vs for them anyway, as it is too exclusive. Drivers buying on the merits however will consider the XLR-v and some will buy.

    As for prestige, where I live you may as well drive a T-bird. The SL is so numerous as to be virtually ignored. It doesn't even get you a spot curbside at the valet stand anymore. But the XLR-V does. Last night, there it was right outside the door with a Bentley, a Quattroporte & a Maranello while a steady stream of Mercs and BMWs were fetched from further away.

    Phil
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,480
    Phil, I'm with you on the interior of the Maserati. If only my living room were as stylish or luxurious! And, of course, your thoughts on the XLR interior are correct for you.

    Still, to me, the Lexus SC430 interior puts the XLR's interior to shame (save for the truly terrible lighter shaded wood/ecru combo in the SC. Must have the darker toned wood!!!). The SC exterior, well, a whole different story there. The XLR, to my eye, is a GM interior. Unfortunately, that is no compliment. It may be clean and functional but one could say the same thing about a Cobalt or a G6. Is Bvlgari's jewelery as plain as the instrument panel it designed? Overall the interior is not terrible, but for a $76k entry fee, I expect more.

    Note that I do find the XLR overall a desireable car (although I've not driven one). MB SLs, while not quite as common as a 3 series BMW here in Boston, are certainly not the exception. The Caddy is a rare bird. Which from an owner's perspective may be a good thing. Not from Caddy's though...!

    '13 Jaguar XF, '11 BMW 535xi, '02 Lexus RX300

  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Stlying is to each his own because there is nothing even remotely ungraceful about the SL's styling. Nothing. I think one of the reasons why the XLR hasn't had an easy time in the market is because of the jet-fighter look. I think most buyers in the 75-100K luxury roadster class want something more elegant and less brutish looking like a SL or Jaguar XK. The Lexus SC sells on a quality reputation and price, being much cheaper than the XLR and its European rivals.

    When I said that XLR-V didn't feel like a 100K car I meant from an interior standpoint. A luxury car (which is what these still are) is supposed to have soft materials and make a statement. I don't doubt that the performance is worlds better than the base XLR. Though I seriously doubt the recently refreshed SL55 has a thing to worry about from a the XLR-V.

    Lastly, seeing a SL all the time is the price of being the class leader, everyone with money has one or will get one sooner or later. GM supporters seems to always change their tune to fit the car. If it doesn't sell due to not being as popular as GM wanted it to be, then the car is all of sudden "exclusive", yet if it sells well we can't hear enough about the sales numbers. Not that I'm claiming you're saying this, but I've heard it before. Point being, the only reason you don't see the XLR on every street is because Cadillac can't sell that many, not that can't build that many.

    M
  • 213cobra213cobra Posts: 12
    In terms of materials and workmanship, the Lexus SC interior is fully credible. It's design choices are a more controversial matter as is the look of the rest of the car. Unfortunately for the SC, it is not a serious car in any other sense. Performance relative to the class is mediocre, the car is unnecessarily soft, and it's styling is indecisively organic, as though the committee that designed it could not choose a signature aesthetic. It sells to the Lexus brand crowd, but neither an XLR, XLR-V, SL, 6 series, nor Maserati buyer considers it a desirable alternative.

    Is Bulgari's jewelry as plain as the gauges in the XLR? Not quite, but his designs do tend to be very straightforward with bold fonts on watchfaces. Issue is that a Bulgari watch doesn't have to be instantly readable at a glance at 100+mph. I don't know your age, but $100K+ cars usually sell to people in mid-life and the utter clarity of the XLR/XLR-v instrumentation is an advantage, not a liability, for progressive-lens-wearing 50 year old men. It's just a functional thing. The SL looks fussy by comparison. On the base XLR, the $77K price might seem to justify some more leather on the primary surfaces. The plastics seem fine to me (plastic -- it's all pretty much plastic on any car!). The Caddy has put the money elsewhere and what you can touch is fine in that context, IMO.

    Anyway, again, I originally posted about the XLR-v, and the experiential difference from the base car is *very* large.

    I lived around Boston for 10 years and get there often since. I see the incidence of SLs. Take what you observe there and 10X it in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Orange County. Cadillac's sales numbers on these cars are fine for a marque making a comeback. I see XLRs every day here in SoCal, but I've only seen my V so far. That will change. Cadillac has a mountain to climb and I see a lot of progress climbing it, since about 2000. Those 4 figures of sales each year since the 2004 debut are coming out of somebody's hide.

    Phil
  • 213cobra213cobra Posts: 12
    The XLR-V has been shipping for only about 6 weeks. They plan to make only around 800 this year. It's early. Let's see how it pans out. XLRs are becoming numerous here in southern California. Can't say about elsewhere. But the V is exclusive, just as the Ford SVT Cobra numbers were limited by their hand-wrenched V8s. When you're hand-building engines to semi-racing standards, from limited production parts, production volumes will necessarily be modest. The 4.4L Northstar SC + 6L80 transmission comprises a sensational combination!

    I don't know what interior a $100K car should have. Maserati sold fewer than 6000 cars last year and their interiors put *everyone* else's to shame. There is no distant second. The Merc guys look like hackers when it comes to interiors, compared to the Italians. Porsche interiors don't impress me. BMW interiors seem to be more about asserting a brand identity than functionality and user control. Mercedes, to me, isolates and obfuscates functionality while making an impressive superficial impression. Certainly that works in the marketplace where they helped set the tone for what people expect. The XLR-v is another point-of-view from a company learning in the category. As a first effort, the XLR/XLR-v are stunning debuts. I would consider the Maser interior a meaningful upgrade. The rest of the class has no real advantage over the Cadillacs.

    I'm a first-time GM customer. The only other GM product I ever owned was a Corvette I bought used, and it was mechanically & electrically bulletproof right into 6 figures of mileage, and dealer service was unconditionally excellent. I was a long-time multi-vehicle new Ford SVT customer, also completely trouble-free for me. I work in a business where the entire community drives luxury cars, so I've been in and driven everything you can name, at one time or another (well, still looking for that chance to drive a Ford GT). I drove all the top contenders before making this purchase. I might have bought a Panoz Esperente if I could fit. The XLR-v won on the merits with me, edging out the Maserati Grand Sport. Anyone judging it without directly experiencing the car and assuming they can extrapolate from an XLR experience is under-informed. The Mercedes wasn't remotely as satisfying as either the XLR-v or the Maser, IMO. But I am not a GM apologist. I want to see XLRs succeed in the category. The XLR-V however only has to sell its modest production. If it doesn't sell competively against the SL, I am certain that it will become a sought-after cult car post-production. Time will tell. In the meantime, I expect to enjoy mine.

    Phil
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,480
    My brother lives in LA (Pac Pall) and everytime I visit I just stop and stare at the cars. This past August we were there for a week and I saw 5 different Bentley GTs. I think that's more than I've seen around here in all of '05! He, of course, can also afford any car he wants. But he's just not much of a car guy. Loves his old '72 Buick convertible. The neighbors certainly do not! His wife just leased a Land Rover... I like to say that my brother can buy all the cars I want yet buys only the cars I can afford! :surprise:

    Anywho, enjoy the V. My gripe with GM for decades is in knowing that they can build world class cars yet seemed to go out of their way not to (thank you, Roger SMith et. al.). Although most of their offerings, at least stylistically, are not my cup of tea at least Cadillac is beginning to carve out a more distinctive, respectable slice of the pie.

    If the evil wife would allow me, or was it even remotely practical, I would be more seriously XLR shopping. To me, had Caddy just paid a little more attention to the interior and priced the XLR closer to (undercut?) the SC4300 I think they may have sold a few more and not had to cut production in half.

    It's nice to see this thread pick up a bit!

    '13 Jaguar XF, '11 BMW 535xi, '02 Lexus RX300

  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well I don't buy the argument about production being constrained because of hand building engines, Mercedes-AMG does the same thing and they have no issues with selling over 20K AMG cars a year. There is nothing about the SC Northstar that isn't so exotic as to keep it from being built in good numbers, if the demand was there.

    AMG does the same thing and their new (equally versed in racing technology if not more so) 6.3L V8 will eventually be stuffed into every AMG model (except the V12 ones) over the next few years. I just think that is an excuse for slow sales, if the XLR-V doesn't meet GM's projections.

    That said, I'm impressed with the XLR-V and the STS-V to a degree. They are without a doubt (along with the C6 Vette) the finest cars GM has ever produced and the two Caddies are no doubt the best Cadillacs of the last 30 years, IMO.

    I agree about Maser and their interiors. The only German make that comes close to say a Maserati Quattroporte is Audi. Totally disagree that the rest of the class has no advantage over the XLR-V when it comes to its interior. Despite my opinion on how pitiful of a GT car the Lexus SC430 is and its tacky interior color schemes, it easily beats the XLR in the interior department when it comes to quality of materials and how they are constructed. The XLR-V doesn't come close to a 100K car in presentation, design or materials. It has the same lapse in details that all GM cars suffer from. GM got the drivetrain right from everything I've seen, but the interior detals aren't up to less-expensive cars. There are too many obvious parts from lesser GM cars poking through for me.

    Your first GM car? What did you drive before?

    M
  • 213cobra213cobra Posts: 12
    First new GM car for me. I did have a Corvette I bought used. But that's the only GM product I owned before this. Most recent fleet was: multiple Ford SVT vehicles, a Mercury Marauder, Lincoln M8 LSC -- all specialty (some hand-assembled) aluminum, high-rev, multivalve/DOHC engines. Professional peers mostly drive German or Brit (Aston, Jag) with an occasional Italian, so am familiar with everything else in a first-person sense, aside from what I've test-driven.

    Mercedes acquired AMG. It was a fully-fleshed out hot-rod operation before they bought it, and Mercedes capital has expanded it. That's easy to do. Of course they are scaling hand-wrenched production ahead of GM. Ford has been doing it with SVT since 1993, too. But GM Performance is a 3 year old operation. GM has the resources to scale but the experience to scale that kind of operation to consumer standards takes some organizational learning. They have to exceed what a 3rd party shop does. Plus, while the brand is recovering from decades of neglect, it's better to manage to scarcity than surplus. I think they are stepping up in the right way to build custom wrenching capacity a little behind demand. Their objective in the near term is not to outsell Mercedes, but to enter the market, begin biting into their sales and to divert some SL-intenders, which they are doing.

    As for the interiors issue, I think this has become the last refuge of criticsm for people who are unwilling to be objective about the quality in design and execution GM has achieved here, and (perhaps not you) the many people in the market that have a perverse desire to see domestic companies fail. The Maserati interiors are untouched by anyone else in the price. Perhaps the Aston V8 Vantage is their closest competitor in that regard. Audi interiors are lauded for design and materials but I have to say I've been in every Audi model sold in North America and driven them all. Their plastics are not higher quality in durability but they are chosen or engineered for a specific feel. It's OK, not really special. Nice design details if you like their aesthetic. Their leather isn't as good as the Brits' and nothing about it that matters in an automobile meaningfully exceeds what's in my XLR-v. It has a specific aesthetic. So does the Cadillac. Which you like is up to you, but aside from the feel of the switchgear, it's not a quality difference that matters. I say that knowing that every auto magazine has made an issue of this, but I think they are largely in a rut over a quality gap that was huge 12 years ago and has since narrowed, though their ability to recognize that has not.

    The Lexus interior is irrelevant. No one who appreciates the engineering, driving experience and dynamics of the XLR or XLR-v would consider the bloated, soft, femme Lexus SC a serious alternative. Its interior looks goofy but it's well-assembled. Yawn.

    The Mercedes SL55 interior is superficially seductive compared to the XLR-v, and parts of it are more gratifying to touch. It's not enough reason to put up with the car's needless bulk. This difference quickly fades. The XLR-v interior feels good in all the right places, the sight-lines are better, everything is instantly legible, the technology integration is better, and the XLR-v is simply more fun because it feels lighter and never ponderous. The SL55 is heavy, it has Camaro-like overhangs, and its design vocabulary is dated. Some people like that. It's OK. But that buyer isn't really rejecting the XLR-v because of interior materials. Let's face it, such a decision is driven by other things. But to me, if you can't build a high-power two seater with a retractable hardtop under 4000 lbs., you're just not creative enough. I mean, that car is over TWO friggin' TONS!!!! It just crosses a line that makes it hard for me to take seriously in 2006. Engineering only goes so far in disguising that bulk. Drive the XLR-v and the SL55 like a sports car and tell me which one is more tossable and fun. It won't be the Merc.

    Obvious parts from lesser GM cars poking through the interior of the Caddy? What, some switches? Air vents? If anything, it's very small items. Everything else is specific to the car. And so what? It works. It is well screwed together. The platform is proven in all respects to be a world-class performance foundation. It leads Mercedes in specific output. It leads Mercedes in lightness with rigidity. It gets better gas mileage, for anyone who cares about that for other than economic reasons. The Cadillac has an order-upending style, and the mechanics to back up its intrusion into the class structure of upper end roadster-coupes. I understand why some people prefer the SL55, but the real reason isn't the XLR-v interior. By the way, have you seen the V interior? It's a different impression from the base XLR.

    On Saturday I happened to find myself coming out of a store with an SL55 parking next to me. The owner wanted a look at my car because he hadn't seen an XLR-v before, only an XLR. I was familiar with his car since I had driven one and have friends who own them, too. Sitting in his car I was reminded that I do not envy his interior, though I recognize it is well made. His reaction to the V interior was, "this is getting very close....." After spending almost an hour orienting him around the car, it was clear his curiosity was more than empty.

    Automobile Magazine said that the XLR-v is clearly worth its $100K sticker on the performance merits, and then they weaseled out by saying to the effect, "...well it doesn't have the SL's cachet and the cockpit could use some work...so ask us again in a few years." Geeze Louise. I was buying a car, not some piece of jewelry to impress the crusty set. As a car, the XLR-v rocks in every way.

    Phil
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well obviously you love the XLR-V because there are lot of claims in there that aren't really correct.

    There is no way a GM car is on the same level with an Audi when it comes to their interiors, not even the 100K XLR-V. The Audi A8 puts any GM car to shame interior design and quality. Yes I've been the XLR-V several times now. To say that GM can use lesser parts from their lesser cars in the XLR-V and excuse them because they work is missing the point. A 100K car is supposed to be more bespoke and not an obvious part sharing exercise with cheaper cars. This would be ok if GM cars in general had better interiors, but they don't. All luxury cars have a "specific asthetic". The XLR isn't any different and certainly isn't outstanding in any way regarding its interior.

    I agree about the Lexus' desireability, but still it does have a well-crafted interior, that was the point. I personally would take anything else in the class over the SC430 without a thought.

    The Mercedes SL55 interior is superficially seductive compared to the XLR-v, and parts of it are more gratifying to touch.

    Well yeah and so is the new Jaguar XK, that is the point of having a luxury car. You say that SL doesn't handle as well and I say the XLR-V's interior doesn't meet the 100K standard. We'll have to agree to disagree there. I've seen many say that latter about the XLR-V's interior, far less than any complaints about the SL55's handling. It doesn't pretend to be a s sports car, its a GT car. There is a difference.

    The Cadillac may have what it takes to break in the class, but the SL is the class and will continue to be so.

    Automobile didn't weasel out they simply stated the obvious.

    M
  • 213cobra213cobra Posts: 12
    I enjoy my XLR-v and that doesn't make any statement I made incorrect. We have differences of opinion about what constitutes "better" in a car interior, and how much that means to one's choice.

    I didn't say that the XLR-v interior is the equal of Audi's or Mercedes, just that the differences aren't meaningful enough to selecting the car. You're right, the SL is a GT. But a GT that can has sports car dynamics is better than a GT that doesn't. The SL is just silly-heavy and frankly I'd rather have an interior that people nitpick about than over 400 extra pounds that put a two seat GT over 4000 lbs.

    All of these cars -- the Lexus, the Cadillac, the Mercedes, pay some price for having automated folding hardtops in compact form. The Lexus gives you a precision-crafted interior (albeit goofy aesthetics), nice paint, reliability and a retractable hardtop at the expense of class-worst performance. The Mercedes gives you everything, at the expense of class-worst bloat & weight, and highest price. The Maserati Spyder gives you class-best interior, good dynamics, a great naturally-aspirated engine and high flavor at the expense of a cloth roof and questionable reliability. The Cadillac gives you lightest weight among the hard-roofs, class-leading specific output, class-leading suspension governance, fully competitive performance, most seamless technology integration, and price advantage, at the expense of a mildly less indulgent (but more functional) interior. For me, that latter mix defines a more desirable $100+K 2-seat luxury GT-roadster than what Mercedes offers.

    As for $100K cars being "bespoke," that threshold passed a long time ago. Every $100K car is a production car now or derived from production mechanicals incorporated into a specifically engineered chassis like Panoz and Morgan, and all use parts from "lesser" cars. You may think that Mercedes is skilled at creating and maintaining an illusion otherwise, but it's still an illusion pierced by lapses in execution just like with any other manufacturer.

    The XLR-v's interior is excellent in its directness, technology integration and simplicity. It is a better abstraction of technology UI than the SL or anything else in the class I've seen. Maybe the Aston V8 Vantage is its peer in this respect, but with more leather. If the Cadillac's interior were a little "richer" in its materials, would I appreciate it? I suppose, if doing so didn't add more weight or complexity. Hey, I'd like a leather headliner! But I don't see any deficiencies nor any advantage to the interior of any competitor (other than Maserati) that might be enough to prefer a different car. The differences are small relative to the XLR-v's large design and relatively lightweight engineering advantages.

    I accept that the SL defines the class, as most of the market thinks of $100K - $140K two-seat GTs. The XLR-v is the upstart intruder in a class that was established by European makers. The XLR-v is a better idea for how this class should be interpreted. Each car has its strengths and appeal. I fully understand why some people might choose a Maserati or an Aston over anything else in the field. I accept that many people prefer the Mercedes. I just don't think that's warranted if you're buying a car rather than merely a statement. Even as a statement, the SL is becoming co-opted by lemming buyers anteing-up the credit to get into one. Watch people, for instance, don't buy Rolexes, nor have much respect for them. Brand buyers do. Mercedes is fast filling that position in cars. Automobile Magazine's view that the XLR-v's performance legitimacy at the price point is somehow devalued by carrying through a more restrained aesthetic inside and by being new to the market, bows to a static, backward-facing, market perception. For anyone seeking a fast, exceedingly competent, comfortable, strong, highly-usable, forward-looking, reliable, six-figure sporting GT-roadster, rather than an overweight, overwrought, overpriced version of the same, the XLR-v is a worthy alternative that will also make a good impression. You can also be sure in coming years it will evolve further. And if you really want a bespoke interior, for far less than the difference in price, every city has a customizer or two who can give you the full Maserati treatment for something truly individual.

    Phil
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I didn't say that the XLR-v interior is the equal of Audi's or Mercedes, just that the differences aren't meaningful enough to selecting the car. You're right, the SL is a GT. But a GT that can has sports car dynamics is better than a GT that doesn't. The SL is just silly-heavy and frankly I'd rather have an interior that people nitpick about than over 400 extra pounds that put a two seat GT over 4000 lbs.

    Well then I don't understand the point of the debate then. I'll take the better interior because again these aren't sports cars and from what I've seen the base SL500 outhandles the XLR anyway. Not sure about the SL55 and XLR-V, I haven't seen them compared. The SL (and others) are better at providing a luxury experience while the XLR seemingly wants to be a better mannered Vette. The SL is designed to hide most of that bulk and from everthing I've seen about the car it does that very well and doesn't suffer nearly as bad from "worst-class bloat" like your saying. You make sound like the car doesn't handle at all the XLR is some type of slot car.

    The XLR being a better definition of this class is highly arguable at best because I haven't seen anyone agree with that. The XLR loses everytime. Who buys what and why has nothing to do with the technical aspects of the two cars, it is irrelevant. Just because Cadillac threw away their "brand name" years ago and doesn't have much of a draw as far as prestige goes agains the Germans and Lexus isn't justification for implying that Mercedes buyers are merely "brand" seekers.

    M
  • 213cobra213cobra Posts: 12
    The XLR-v interior is close enough to the Germans as to be irrelevant as a selection factor. That's the first point of contention. Both are quite a bit behind the luxury aura that the Italians manage. If interiors were so important -- a 1st-order selection criterion -- Maserati would own the market. Let's not pretend these interior differences you claim are meaningful at this level.

    The SL500 & 600 are bulky too, not just the AMG. I'd rather drive a base XLR than a 500, frankly. But it's the XLR-v this discussion is about. The XLR-v really doesn't resemble a Corvette at all, despite sharing structure architecture. The two cars are very different by virtue of engines alone, and are tuned to be much different experiences. If you want a Corvette, you'll be buying a Corvette, not an XLR or Mercedes of any sort.

    The luxury experience of the XLR-v is fully competitive, and superior to the Mercedes SL in all the ways that matter to me. Someone else might think of luxury differently, but that's not my problem. The Mercedes IS the most bloated car in the class. It's so heavy it's hard to take seriously, so I don't. Mercedes does manage to mitigate the weight via engineering, but it would be a better & more impressive engineering solution to avoid the weight in the first place. Cadillac does. Reviewers are hypocrites on this issue. They praise the Merc and yet every one of them makes some kind of explicit or veiled comment about how the bloat induces understeer and compromises dynamics. Did I mention the car is excessively heavy?

    In any case, you can plainly feel the SL's obesity both in direct feedback and in how the car's systems work to keep the car in line. Just drive one and then drive an XLR-v. It will be plain as your nose on your face. An XLR-v IS "some kind of slot car." The Mercedes SL DOES "handle" but its competence is inelegant because of its bloat and what has to be done to manage it. The XLR-v is straightforward and fun, along with being comfortable, quiet and fast. The Mercedes is merely comfortable, quiet and fast. Lexus is not a factor for drivers.

    The largest Mercedes dealer in the world is in southern California, and a few others in the top ten. You don't have to meet many SL owners, even SL-AMG owners, to see ample evidence that most of them are brand seekers and nothing more. They know very little about their cars. And the correlation between Mercedes SL ownership and Rolex wearers further reinforces the point. It's not much different for BMW or Lexus here, either. Groupthink prevails. Well, it helps D/C sell cars. We also see proof of this in Mercedes sales holding up in the face of steady reliability declines. The Italians or Brits or Cadillac would be punished by the market immediately if the same declines were suffered. So let's be honest: it's not a merit-based market. If it were, a lot of people who reflexively buy SLs would instead seriously consider buy and something else, including XLR-v.

    Whether or not you've seen anyone agree with me on the XLR-v as the better example of a luxury 2-seat GT/roadster hardtop does nothing to make the point arguable or inarguable. When you have the market rewarding a maker who can't build such a car under two tons, clearly the rest of the army is out of step and I'm happy to be in the minority.

    Last, nevertheless enjoy the Mercedes you either own or will eventually buy. But consider indulging your independent streak and going with a V.

    Phil
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    The XLR-v interior is close enough to the Germans as to be irrelevant as a selection factor. That's the first point of contention. Both are quite a bit behind the luxury aura that the Italians manage. If interiors were so important -- a 1st-order selection criterion -- Maserati would own the market. Let's not pretend these interior differences you claim are meaningful at this level.

    Disagree totally because everyone who has driven these new "V" Series Cadillacs complains about their interiors not being up to snuff, especially for the prices Caddy is asking for them. At this level the details do matter and GM cars never pass the test even at the lower levels so they haven't a chance at this level. Now for you it might not have been an issue, but I've seen posts here and on other boards about the XLR and XLR-V and nine times out of ten the problem is the interior. About the Cadillac and Germans matching Maserati, they really don't have too. Maseratis are much more exclusive and a much riskier choice and thus they'll never take many sales away from the Germans in this segment.

    The SL500 & 600 are bulky too, not just the AMG. I'd rather drive a base XLR than a 500, frankly. But it's the XLR-v this discussion is about. The XLR-v really doesn't resemble a Corvette at all, despite sharing structure architecture. The two cars are very different by virtue of engines alone, and are tuned to be much different experiences.

    Ok in your opinion, that isn't supported by any tests I've seen where the SL always beats the XLR except in one R&T test where the SL got knocked on price. I didn't say the XLR resembles a Vette I said that is appear to be more luxurious, better mannered one.

    Reviewers are hypocrites on this issue. They praise the Merc and yet every one of them makes some kind of explicit or veiled comment about how the bloat induces understeer and compromises dynamics.

    I've read "that for a heavy car it handles well" or something like that. I haven't really seen anything truly negative about the SL's handling other than reviewers wondering what it would be like if the car indeed lighter. Like I said before, not sure about the XLR-V vs. the SL55, but I do seem to remember a recent roadtest by C&D on the XLR-V where they said it was uninvolving (or something like that), but on the SL500 vs. the XLR the SL has won any handling contest I've seen.

    The Mercedes SL DOES "handle" but its competence is inelegant because of its bloat and what has to be done to manage it.

    Sorry guy but that is an excuse. If the car handles good and they manage to hide its weight well enough for it to be a good handling GT then there is no point to the "bloated" nonsense.

    You think that every SL buyer is some type of badge seeker, yet I guess you think every XLR buyer is some type of car nut that knows the guts of this XLR right down to the most minute detail? Sorry, but that is ridiculous. That implication sounds like something the GM defenders would say on the other boards because simply put no one lusts after the Cadillac badge after GM ruined it 30+ years ago. "We don't have any status so we'll knock the brands like MB that do."

    Every luxury brand on the market attracts at least some badge seekers, but of course Mercedes still being seen as #1 by a lot of folks, they'll get more than their fair share of badge seekers. What this has to do with the technical aspects of the cars here is beyond me though. Imagewise Cadillac isn't in the same league with Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Lexus to most people. It isn't their fault that GM threw away Cadillac's prestige with 20+ years of heaps.

    Whether or not you've seen anyone agree with me on the XLR-v as the better example of a luxury 2-seat GT/roadster hardtop does nothing to make the point arguable or inarguable. When you have the market rewarding a maker who can't build such a car under two tons, clearly the rest of the army is out of step and I'm happy to be in the minority.

    Well...uh yeah it does make it pretty inarguable, well at least as it relates to the base XLR vs the base SL as to which is superior, because if the base XLR were so great someone would have said it by now. To be fair the jury is out on the XLR-V because it has yet to face the SL55 or any of its other competiors like the upcoming M6 Cabriolet or the upcoming XLR. Minority on the XLR-V when it comes to its interior, most definitely.

    M
  • 213cobra213cobra Posts: 12
    Several reviewers have said that the SL steering is "numb" and went on to criticize the entire category of luxury GT roadsters for this. They've said the same about the V. I've driven all the SLs and the XLR and XLR-v. To my hands, the XLR-v returns much more information about the tire/road interface than any SL and more than the base XLR. Somewhat less than an M3, Z06 or 911.

    The SL500/600/55 "handle, for a heavy car." You can put up the numbers on any two cars and if they are the same, the qualitative difference can be markedly dissimilar. The Mercedes wears its weight inelegantly and feels like a pig compared to the XLR-v. Just because it gets around a track or a skidpad doesn't mean the weight it hidden. You feel surplus mass under management. It would be far more impressive an engineering feat if it weren't there in the first place. The XLR compares favorably to an SL500, though it doesn't have the more complete pinned-to-the-planet feel of the V car.

    Mercedes has a disproporationate number of badge-seekers among its buyers, which is easily discernible and expected for the brand they built, exacerbated by the company building less involving cars than most of their few competitors. Only Lexus builds less-involving cars in the category and that crowd is crawling with badge-seekers.

    All sales quantities in this category are small. Maserati's few thousand coupes and roadsters come from someone's prior market share, just as XLR/XLR-v.

    There are people complaining about the Cadillac interiors. I don't dispute the incidence of commentary. I do dispute whether it matters, and the motives of those who complain. I really am not interested in the slightest what any majority sentiment is about any automotive category. It has no bearing on whether there are meaningful differences. Only on the sheep mentality of people in groups seeking social approval. When people are buying prestige rather than product, they generally are reluctant to let new entrants on the field, and are protective of the status they just bought into. Really, get in an XLR-v and live with it. The interior is fine, even in the context of the class.

    "...if the base XLR were so great someone would have said it by now..." I have. And even more so for the XLR-v. There are lots of people who agree with me, but they aren't in media and they aren't blogging or tapping out these arguments on forums like we are. But I hear it conversationally. You look around the web and you can find many reviews of the XLR series where the conclusion is that these cars are not quite ready to knock the SL off its perch, mostly due to some knuckleheaded claim about "cachet", "history" or "indescribable refinement." These are very thin reasons hang on to any preference for the SL and typical of what people say when presented with an equally-competent challenger. The Cadillac roadsters are a different flavor of an established recipe and are fully competitive as cars. As brands....well, sure....GM has some work to do in the marketplace. I bought a car, so I am not even remotely concerned about what anyone else thinks about the badge.

    The M6 isn't really the same kind of car as either of the cars we are talking about, but some people might include it in their evaluations. If there's a hard top, and it goes down, and it seats 2, and at least 8 cylinders are under the hood, then it's in the class. The Maser and Jag are edged out for their soft tops. The Lexus is by far the poorest performer of the group and irrelevent to people like us. The Aston V8 Vantage and Maser Coupe/Gransport are closed cars so also peripheral but might be considered alternatives by some, so the larger M6 is a little further out.

    Drive the cars, ignore the badges, feel the ridiculous weight penalty of the SL. You might have your mind changed and understand why the XLR-v is more entertaining. Anyone concerned about the image perceptions of others is really a brand seeker and not actually buying for the car. If you were, you'd have a much dimmer view of Mercedes bloat, declining reliability and awkward technology integration. Generally the people who pay special respect to Mercedes don't know anything about what you bought anyway. They think you bought it to impress them and accord to you no more insight than that. This is what amazes me about brand-seeking for status -- the intended audience thinks you're as shallow as you think they are for assigning some importance to your choice! Something like Groucho Marx's comment about not wanting to join any club that would have him. That will keep you from enjoying some much more interesting cars.

    Phil
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,480
    Hello, Guys:

    Fun discussion, good points on both sides. The most important fact is that Phil voted with his wallet and is absolutely right in his opinions. For him, of course.

    I've not driven either car, my reaction is purely from a read/research/sit in at delaer or autoshow point of view. There is no doubt that many buyers are brand buyers. For both marques. I still hear people referring to Caddy as "The Standard of the World." Unfortunately, in the absolute, not true for a good 30 to 40 years. Where Caddy/GM goofed was trying to instanly play in the MB league, price-wise. MB has, however, "earned" their price premium. They've been (perceived) to be the standard for quite some time. Whereas Caddy has been hurt by the recent past, MB has receive a pass from the buying public because of the recent past.

    Having theorized that, I do buy the car. Not the badge. Heck, my last car was a Chrylser 300M! First model year, domestic, Chrysler! I broke all the rules with that purchase. First domestic I ever bought. And I was thrilled with it. Enjoyed every minute, wonderful car. I just wasn't going to keep it past 70k miles. Current ride, '05 Acura TL. Emotionally I wanted to buy a MB E320 but at the end of the day I just did not feel the E was $20k more car than the TL. And my New England frugality carried the day. No regrets, TL is fab.

    Caddy overshot the price mark and under-delivered on the interior. Most people buy the whole package. I mean where do you spend your driving time. In the interior! I think the MB SL wins on both interior and exterior counts here. Much less so on the exterior, though. I'd go for the Caddy , as I did with the 300M, so as not to follow the crowd.

    Among other (less $ watches) I wear a Tag Heuer and IWC. With another IWC in my (near? Please, honey. Can I buy it?) future.

    Enjoy the v, PHil. Please post your experiences living with it.

    '13 Jaguar XF, '11 BMW 535xi, '02 Lexus RX300

  • 213cobra213cobra Posts: 12
    Yep, I spend my time inside the car, so the interior matters. I like the clean straightforwardness of the XLR-v interior, and the thing is I like it more the more time I spend in it, not less. The Maserati does that for you too for entirely different reasons. The Mercedes doesn't for me. In fact, even just while shopping it, I found the Mercedes SL interior progressively more irritating and distracting the more time I spent in it.

    There are a few things I'd like to see improved inside the XLR-v. 1/ a hand-brake rather than a foot-controlled e-brake. This is still-too-frequent Detroit miscue. 2/ A leather headliner would be nice, but I can get that done custom. 3/ I'd really like a larger radio volume knob. 4/ The floor mats should be a lot plusher stock rather than forcing an accessory buy to upgrade -- ah, the long arm of GM's finance guys. Knowing the car's architecture precludes stowage space behind the seats, that's about it. The trunk space is generous given the retracting hardtop and other attributes packaged in the car. I have 360 degrees of leather inside, great seats, excellent materials all around. Aesthetically, I would have preferred full leather seats but functionally the perforated ultra-suede inserts are a terrific touch for keeping you in your seat in hard cornering, without excessively restrictive side bolsters. So, I'm fine with it. I've had cars with chromed control stalks, but the flat black ones here don't reflect glare. If GM ever gets to putting a Maserati-grade interior in the car without compromising anything else about it, I'll be the first to applaud it. If I were the XLR-v product manager, I'd put interior refinements on the development plan. But the layout and ergonomics are great today, and the way it is executed does not detract from the appeal of the car.

    Cadillac, remember, did not clamber all the way up MB's price tree. The sticker is an even $100K. I've been to MB's web site and car configurator, and equipping an SL55 as closely as possible to the XLR-V puts you past $135K. The Cadillac is still playing well under the perceived market leader. I've read posts where people say the V should be $85K. Sorry. If you accept what companies can deliver in the $70,000s, there is no way the V gets delivered in the $80s, especially with that hand-wrenched beauty of an engine. Psychologically, would there be advantage to put the car at, say, 94,499.00 instead? Sure. But it wouldn't have the same "announcement" impact of breaking 6 figures with a small-production flagship. The market will work out the actual selling prices.

    Experiences with the car: Let's get off the car for a moment and talk about the tires. The V comes equipped with Pirelli Eufori run-flats. Now, I haven't been keen on earlier generations of run-flats. The Goodyear F1s on my wife's CTS-v seem much improved too, but I don't have definitive experience with them yet. No question that the run-flats impose a specific ride / handling characteristic to any car they're on. One of the Maserati Gransports I drove had run-flats too and they made the car feel almost familial to the XLR-v, and vice-versa. Transmittal of road grain into the car is heightened, but less than earlier generation run-flats. NVH goes up over an inflated tire. But the handling, grip, gradual slip and wet performance of these Euforis are all 1st-rate -- at least at this stage of tire life (1150 miles). Corvette Z06-scale rubber would certainly make the car more tenacious but then it wouldn't be a luxury GT roadster either. These Euforis definitely put an edge on the car, that very much net-positive. I am really impressed by how far run-flat tires have evolved during the past few years, and now can appreciate knowing wherever I am, I can keep rolling.

    Another thing: The XLR-v has the excellent new GM 6L80 shiftable automatic transmission. Manual shifts are timely, especially when compared to normal sequence of clutching/shifting yourself (as opposed to comparing the shift to flipping a light switch). Auto shifts are smooth and seamless in normal mode. The car sounds almost turbine-like when driven mildly. However, the car has multiple modes. In full auto mode, ride is most compliance and shifts are well-mannered and barely perceptible. Very fluid. Slap the shifter left into the manual shiftgate, but don't shift -- this puts you in Sport Automatic mode where the transmission computer evaluates your driving style and manages shifts according to how aggressively you are driving. In this mode, the tranny holds gear longer up the sequence and upshifts are firm & crisp. Also, the Dynamic Ride Control is recalibrated for flatter cornering and a more aggressive "set." When you start shifting, the heads-up display keeps you informed of your gear, and aside from where the manual outlines how you might be second-guessed, for practical purposes your shifts are responsively effected.

    In conjunction with choosing full Auto, Sport Auto or Driver Shift modes at the transmission, you can turn Traction Control (GM's excellent Stabilitrak) on, off or to Performance Mode, which allows quite a bit of horseplay before pulling you back in line. The combinations possible between these two separate controls allow you to configure the car quite precisely to mood, environment and attention span. By comparison, while the Maserati's Cambiocorsa "F1" paddle-controlled electro-mechanical transmission is snappy at speed, for most driving I actually find this GM 6L80, as programmed in the XLR-v, to be more involving and unclunky. I say this as a lifetime shift-it-yourself driver. We still have the CTS-v for that.

    If you're a Tag Heuer guy, it sounds like instead of an IWC next, you need a Monaco V4 (13 drive belts and a linear oscillator) to go with the spirit of that TL. Or perhaps a GP Ferrari.

    Phil
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Several reviewers have said that the SL steering is "numb" and went on to criticize the entire category of luxury GT roadsters for this. They've said the same about the V. I've driven all the SLs and the XLR and XLR-v.

    If that is the case then????? None of these cars are sports cars.

    Mercedes has a disproporationate number of badge-seekers among its buyers, which is easily discernible and expected for the brand they built, exacerbated by the company building less involving cars than most of their few competitors. Only Lexus builds less-involving cars in the category and that crowd is crawling with badge-seekers.

    Sorry, but this reeks of what I said earlier. Since GM ruined Cadillac's standing in the world it is easy to knock other brands that have the image factor. Secondly, Cadillac building more involving cars is just pure fantasy. If Cadillac still had their standing they'd have more badge seekers too. Instead they've chasing MB/BMW in a never ending race that they can't even keep up in.

    Three "V" models don't make up for all the soggily suspended DeVilles and now DTS' they put on the road. Nor do they transform Cadillac into some overall builder of "involving" cars. The truth is that Cadillacs are no more involving than anything else and they aren't up to BMW levels or certain AMG Mercedes models either. Mercedes has more than the SL. This about what MB has built is just the opposite of what Cadillac has destroyed, their brand name. Cadillac ain't no BMW or Infiniti by a long shot so please spare me this nonsense about MB building "less involving cars" and how they have more badge seekers because of it. That is total nonsense. If someone seeks a Lexus for its badge they need help IMO. Lexus is the ultimate in wannabe wares.

    Been over that about the XLR's interior before, XLR, XLR-V been in both, their interiors are not much and certainly not up to their prices IMO, so we'll have to agree to disagree there.

    This about people who typcially buy a Mercedes not knowing anything about them is based on what? An experience at one dealership? True of lot of badge seekers pics MB, but they also pick other brands especially with all the ways to get into one of these cars now. The same can be said about any buyer of any car, Mercedes is no different and besides there is no way to prove the Mercedes has more ignorant buyers than any other brand out there.

    You've seen evidence of that about MB and you can find those right here on Edmunds who are in the same think about Cadillac.

    This about the SL having such a "weight penalty" is nonsense. The car sets the standard in the class by nearly all accounts and if it's weight were that much of a problem there is no way the car would own the segment like it does.

    M
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,480
    Nice write up. It's always great to read a review from someone who continues to evaluate and enjoy their ride so much! And a somewhat positive review of run flats!

    IWC Ingenieur AMG edition is what has caught my latest fancy. I almost bought my father a TAG Targa Florio for his birthday, but decided a Quartz movement and a larger/bolder face would be better (poor eyesight and having to reset the automatic if he didn't wear it regularly would be a bit of a pain for him). So, a Concord Saratoga fit the bill. Maybe the Targa for me? Or a GP as you mention, Omega Seamaster, Breitling Chronomat, Ulysse Nardin... Just like cars, so many choices. I should probably wear my almost 30 year old Seiko automatic chronograph when driving the TL...!

    '13 Jaguar XF, '11 BMW 535xi, '02 Lexus RX300

  • 213cobra213cobra Posts: 12
    I dismiss the interior concerns, you dismiss the weight. But they aren't equal liabilities. The XLR-v interior is functionally excellent and our disagreement is on a matter of cosmetics and feel, related to materials and workmanship. But weight is another matter. That is takes Mercedes over 400 more pounds to put the same car on the road is laughable. It's the epitome of the current German excess in automobile engineering and design, which is squared at Mercedes. The car "owns the segment" because of status buyers, not because most of its owners actually understand or care about driving dynamics.

    Now, I accept that the segment, as currently considered by its buying public, is largely defined by MB's product in the segment. The majority's willingness to reward those product decisions doesn't make it better, merely more financially successful. We know this world does not operate correlating sense with success, and vice-versa. So let's not pretend that a porker at the top of the category makes a porker the right car to build. It's clientele largely knowns little about what it's buying. My experience with this isn't confined to one dealership, it's multi-decades of observation. And sure, there was a time when Cadillac had more brand-seekers than not. But today is today, and Mercedes has an overweight car for which engineering and materials must be directed to managing the unnecessary bulk, and GM has engineered a platform with more advanced thinking instanced in its very structure and the architecture that informs it.

    We agreed earlier that none of these luxury GT/hardtop-roadsters are pure sports cars. But they have sporting characters. The Mercedes just less so, because sports cars were never defined by the ultimate numbers they put up, but more by their balance of characteristics and their communicative traits in motion. On this, the XLR-v exceeds all the SLs. Putting up stout numbers but feeling ponderous when doing so isn't impressive. At least not to me.

    It's true that the DTS is not an involving driver's car. It isn't meant to be, nor is that claim made for it. The STS-v might be, but I haven't driven one so can't say. Automobile and others say it "isn't a track car," but that it is highly competent and very desirable as an "executive express." That's a legitimate portfolio for a car to have. Everyone agrees it's fast and agile for its size. But let's be honest -- a 7 series, A8 or an S class isn't a track car either. They're competent expresses and their passengers do not want to be tossed around the cabin at 140mph, even if the driver does. But for that, the Quattroporte Sport is the definitive large 4 door. The M5 and CTS-v are *just* small enough for that idea to begin to make sense, and both are entertaining. The MB equivalent is again the least involving car of the three. It's what Mercedes does now, with the possible exception of the SLK-AMG, which people my size do not fit in.

    The XLR-v is a better-idea implementation of the SL idea, which by definition makes it disruptive and ensures it will meet some mainstream resistance. That's fully expected when a company is campaigning with product to rebuild a brand proposition. Mercedes is the incumbent bound by the vector of its segment success -- for which the logical conclusion is ridiculously weighty cars overwrought with cosmetics, and its principle design flaw is patched over by technology band-aids to mitigate the needless bulk.

    Cadillac has taken a different approach to "add lightness" and make sane engineering intrinsic to the car by virtue of its platform. It's body materials also allow a more visionary design vocabulary. And the general attitude in favor of elemental rightness and simplicity is carried through in the straightforward interior design.

    Cadillac's brand image lags behind product right now, so while there are people who consider Infiniti and Lexus more desirable, neither has anything as interesting as the CTS-v, the STS-v or the XLR-v. BMW has capable and interesting cars with other liabilities, but that's a different discussion. Audi is irrelevant to me. Mercedes is on a high-fat jag, so hard to take seriously.

    Bottom line is that if Mercedes had built a car as good as the XLR-v, I'd have bought it. I certainly can afford it. However, the SL55 just wasn't quite good enough, for all the reasons I outlined.

    Phil
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    We're going in circles here. You'll forever go on and on about the SL's fictional weight problem and I'll continue to say that the SL has a better interior as does every other car in this class. Where is it written that one is a more serious issue than the other? I say it is common sense that a proper interior on a 100K car is more important to the average buyer than how well the car can be flung around. The average fat-cat buyer that looks at a XK, SL, XLR isn't looking for a sports car. I'd say they're looking for a stylish, luxurious, powerful car that provides a good driving experience.

    I'm not dismissing the XLR/XLR-V by a long shot, my point is it needs more polish to be a real player in this league because it ain't cutting it in the marketplace by being lighter. The Jaguar XK will be just as light or possibly lighter with a much better look inside and out. Then where does that leave the XLR? This about the XLR's body materials isn't a plus either with early complaints about the car smelling like plastic and glue. I hope GM has fixed that because no one wants a 76-100K car that smells like plastic!

    Reading this about the SL's weight, one would think the SL is so heavy as to actually make some type of dramatic difference to the average person that buys an SL (or any other car in this segment). These are GT cars, not Lotus Elises. While Cadillac was busy adapting a Corvette chassis for luxury duty they should have done more with the interior. You mentioned electronics intergration before, yet the XLR has something as simple as doors locks all done up (electronically) to impress that same group of clueless buyers you claim buy Mercedes-Benzes. Nothing more than a useless gimmickly "feature".

    BMW, another discussion? Yes indeed, BMWs will trounce every single Cadillac that has the notion of even trying to compete.

    This about who buys what (really ridiculous IMO) has nothing to do with the cars themselves. Now if you trying to make a case for the Cadillac brand being on the same level as MB or BMW that would be a waste of time. Only the "GM-only" or "buy-American-only" crowds would agree with that and they seem to be as unknowledgeable about cars as you claim MB buyers are. Most of them still think that most American cars are still built in Detroit!

    It seems to me you're just making excuses for Cadillac at this point. For instance the STS-V doesn't compete with the S-Class, A8 or 7-Series. It competes with the M5,S6 and E55/CLS55. GM didn't design anything close to a "platform" for the XLR. They took as sports-car platform (i.e. it was already light) and added some luxury touches and some different engines.

    All this about Mercedes' being less involving is really interesting, yet Cadillac made some of the worst handling, overpowered FWD heaps for years and years. Now since they have a valid tuner car you're making them out to be some type of sporting brand when you can go to any Cadillac dealer in the U.S. and find a DTS, STS or even a CTS with a cloth top and some with Vouge tires. Cadillac hasn't shed their tired old image yet so I find all this talk about Mercedes' image and who buys them hilarious.

    Bottom line you may have found the XLR-V to be more to your liking (can't really argue with that), but you're in the minority, regardless of all these far-reaching theories about who buys a Benz and why.

    You really sound like the typical GM apologist, lots of round-n-round talk only to come to the same conclusion as before, in this case that Cadillacs aren't superior, but merely competitive. Your whole position of superiority on the part of the XLR-V is based on it being lighter nothing more, something that isn't near being the top priority for most buyers in this segment. There are way too many other issues with the XLR in general for less weight to be able to overcome them.

    M
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