Luxury is not normally a feature we see highlighted in electric cars. In the past we thought of electric vehicles as utilitarian and practical more than accommodating and full of luxury attributes.
It seems electric power and luxury have little in common. That is until the little known car company, Tesla came along with their $100,000 electric automobile. However, working quietly behind the scenes Cadillac was developing their own interpretation of a luxury electric automobile. Cadillac hoped it would develop an automobile that would fit into more car buyers’ lifestyles, one filled with luxury.
The 2014 Cadillac ELR is a luxury two door coupe that is meant to take the electric propelled vehicle to new standards. With an electric drive system that is responsive yet economical and kind to the environment it appears they have reached their goal. This electric drive system is coupled to a range-extending generator that helps alleviate range anxiety associated with nearly all fully electric vehicles. Combining these systems allows drivers to feel confident that they are able to drive their Cadillac ELR electric for extended distances reaching well over 300 miles.
As we listened to the Cadillac engineers explain the ELR systems we found ourselves feeling a bit skeptical. All vehicles that involve electric power have what is called a regeneration system. That is a system that regenerates electric energy that charges the main batteries. This usually occurs during deceleration as the vehicle slows down. This recharging is enhanced when the brakes are applied sending more charge to the batteries.
Cadillac engineers have increased the charging potential through a system they call Regen on Demand. Through steering wheel mounted paddles, the driver can add an enhanced rate of charge via the brake system. An added benefit for the Regen on Demand is the quicker slowing of the vehicle as the regen system is applied. It is much like the sense of gently applying the brakes. We found this to be fun and increased our driving excitement as we negotiated the tight turns and quick straights on Mulholland Drive outside of Malibu, CA. While this isn’t the same as down shifting into a lower gear we found pulling on one of the paddles added just the right bit of brake force to assist slowing our ELR down for the turn. Cadillac engineers realized they raised the level of performance in their ELR, we could see it by the glint in their eyes.
Another aspect to the Cadillac ELR is forget what you think of aster electric vehicles. This is a Cadillac after all, and the designers didn’t overlook the idea that this must be, first and foremost, a Cadillac.
This is expressed by Keith Fisher, interior design manager as he explained the interior design. “The ELR interior is a convergence of expressive forms and premium materials that create the optimal balance of sport and luxury,” Fisher continued, “No expense was spared in bringing authentic material selections and the latest technology interface into the car.”
The fit and finish of the interior is spot on, with all seams, stitching and panels fitting exactly as they should on a vehicle of high caliber. A generous use of leather for luxury, combined with carbon fiber trim expressing performance melds into a passenger compartment that feels opulent yet assures capability.
Features befitting a luxury automobile are part of the interior package. Proximity sensing anticipates the hand approaching the LCD screen and the command icons appear. Haptic feedback controls pulse when pressed to acknowledge the user’s wishes, helping the driver keep their eyes on the road ahead.
Let us not forget that though this is an electric vehicle it is also a Cadillac and today’s Cadillac owner demands a dynamic driving experience. This is enabled by a performance orientated propulsion system. With 295 lb-ft of torque, which is 12% more than the Cadillac SRX 3.6-liter V-6, the ELR accelerates quickly from stops and is just as quick to merge into traffic.
A sport driving mode contributes greatly to the sporty driving experience. This is one of four settings available to the driver. Touring is the default setting providing the greatest driving comfort and power efficiency. Mountain adjusts as it implies for mountainous terrain where maintaining a state of charge to provide power when needed. Hold mode allows the driver to direct when the gas-powered generator is used to maintain battery charge.
Of course, Sport is where we left the control for most of our drive. We wanted to experience the ELR as one would expect a product of Cadillac to perform. At every twitch of the road the ELR held firm. Enhancing this ability is the Continuous Damping Control system that adjusts the damping of each wheel every two milliseconds. That’s quick. The suspension system delivers as it should, adjusting ride control that holds the road without jostling passengers with harsh feed back into the vehicle.
If, indeed, you are determined to drive a vehicle that addresses environment and economical concerns yet do not want to relinquish luxury or your spirited driving, the Cadillac ELR is worth a look. The Cadillac ELR satisfies varied desires in one attractive package.