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You'll Like The 2008 Cadillac XLR-V If...

Cadillac’s reach-for-the-stars two-seater may prove totally irresistible if you simply must have the maximum in performance, luxury or civilized sportiness. With only 1,000 of them scheduled to reach dealerships annually, each owner will be driving a rare item.

You May Not Like The 2008 Cadillac XLR-V If...

Chevrolet’s Corvette might be a better choice for the serious sports car fan, while those who favor Eurostyle luxury may lean toward the Mercedes SL-Class rather than accept a Cadillac. Naturally, too, not many sports-car buyers are ready to shell out a six-figure sum, regardless of the XLR-V’s merits and pedigree.

What's New

Optional 19-inch chrome wheels and some new colors are the only major changes for 2008.

Interior Features

Although the "regular" 2008 Cadillac XLR is impressively detailed within the cockpit, the XLR-V reaches a further step ahead in luxury with its handcrafted interior. Ebony-hued Zingana wood adorns the cockpit, which is cozy but sufficiently spacious for two, and allows easy entry. French-stitched leather seats with perforated suede seating surfaces are heated and cooled, and keep you in place without the need for excessive side bolstering. Sensibly-designed instruments are easy to read at a glance, but interior storage is scant and the retracted hardtop takes up plenty of trunk space.

Exterior Features

Like the standard 2008 Cadillac XLR, the XLR-V has a power retractable hardtop that goes through an intriguing process to move up or down. There’s no garish bulge on the hood, but there is a dome to make room for the engine’s supercharger. Twin polished wire-mesh grilles lead the way, while 10-spoke silver-finished wheels hold 19-inch tires. V-series badging and "Supercharged" script also set the XLR-V apart from its basic XLR companion. Cadillac’s Adaptive Forward Lighting system responds to the steering wheel, shifting the headlamps up to 15 degrees outboard and five degrees inboard to improve night visibility.

Driving Impressions

Effortless is the best way to describe the 2008 Cadillac XLR-V, closely followed by delightful. Acceleration is awesome, yet smooth and controlled. Because the exhaust system changes during "aggressive" driving, you hear the subdued gurgle periodically – enough to remind you what’s lurking within, but never annoying. Although you can sense the suspension tautness at all times, the ride is surprisingly satisfying – not tame or light, but far short of punishing. Steering control is close to unbeatable, yielding a confident and positive feel, along with quick and certain responses. Through close, quick curves, the XLR-V behaves with nearly-level cornering and predictable reactions.

Pricing Notes

The 2008 Cadillac XLR-V’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is a nice, neat $100,000 (including gas-guzzler tax). A comparably-equipped Jaguar XKR costs about the same, while the Mercedes-Benz SL600 runs an additional $35,000. Though a limited production run will probably keep pricing firm, there may be some wiggle room for negotiation. Before you set out to purchase your XLR-V, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see the typical transaction price being paid in your area. Like the basic XLR, the limited-release XLR-V is expected to hold good resale values.

Notable Equipment

Just about everything a luxury-performance fan could savor is included in the 2008 Cadillac XLR-V’s hefty price, though none of the features are unique or particularly dramatic. The sizable list of standard equipment includes rear parking assist sensors, four-setting StabiliTrak stability control, GM’s OnStar system with a hands-free phone, a heated leather and wood tilt/telescoping steering wheel, XM Satellite Radio and memory for the driver’s seat, steering wheel, mirrors and radio. The standard navigation system, which accepts voice commands, has a colorful, easy-to-read video screen. Magnetic Ride Control is specially calibrated for the XLR-V, with "track" and "touring" modes, and the engine starts by pushing a button. Every Northstar V8 is hot-tested at the factory.

Notable Options

Except for body-color and interior choices, there are no options available for the XLR-V.

Favorite Features

Sport/Manual-mode Transmission OperationThere are three operating modes for the automatic transmission: Full automatic for most driving, performance-oriented automatic for demanding driving or manually selecting the gears by tapping the shift lever. Each mode delivers great response from the combination of the Northstar engine and the new six-speed transmission.Supercharged EngineEven those who stick to responsible road speeds and legal limits can appreciate the XLR-V’s silken, nearly sensuous power delivery. Of course, they might not wish to pay the extra price for that potential, either at the dealership or, repeatedly, the gas pump.

Under the Hood

While the regular 2008 Cadillac XLR makes do with a "mere" 320 horsepower, the super-hot XLR-V holds a supercharged 4.4-liter V8 with a whopping 443 horsepower. Cadillac claims that 90 percent of the peak torque is available from 2200 to 6200 rpm. With its two overdrive ratios and wide gear-ratio spread, the new Hydra-matic 6L80 rear-mounted six-speed automatic transmission is said to be nearly equivalent to a seven-speed. The manual-shift mode uses buttons on the console-mounted shift lever, but moving the lever to the side engages the Sport automatic mode.4.4-liter V8 Supercharged443 horsepower @ 6400 rpm414 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3900 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/21

Editors' Notes

A step up from the base XLR roadster is the tire-burning XLR-V, a supercharged dynamo designed to challenge the best from Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Porsche. On paper, the XLR-V certainly meets all the criteria, with a 443-horsepower supercharged V8 engine, a sub five-second zero-to-60 run and a six-figure window sticker. On the road, however, the story is not so clear. That’s because the XLR-V’s Corvette-derived chassis does not quite deliver the polish one experiences when driving a Jaguar XK or BMW 650i. And, while the Cadillac name is certainly making a comeback, in most circles it does not match the images of its European rivals.

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