- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

One thing is for certain at Cadillac it's not just business as usual anymore.
"The new era of Cadillac design and technology, seen today on the Escalade, Escalade EXT and CTS is making a major impression on the public," said Jay Spenchian, marketing director.
Now, the bold new era at Cadillac continues with the 2004 XLR.
XLR is a two-seat, retractable hardtop convertible that combines distinctive, edgy design and exhilarating performance. It traces its design roots to the Evoq concept car. Cadillac surprised the automotive world with the audacious Evoq, introduced at the 1999 North American International Auto Show. So positive was the reaction to the luxury roadster from both the press and public that GM decided to explore its potential for production.
XLR's state-of-the-art body structure and chassis enable it to be a luxury roadster with performance-car roots. Based on the next generation of GM's performance-car architecture, the structure uses steel hydroformed perimeter frame rails, an enclosed structural "tunnel," aluminum cockpit structure, and balsa-cored composite floors. The whole idea was to get maximum rigidity without bulk, and with exceptional resistance to twisting and bending forces.
This architecture allows engineers to tune suspension components for outstanding ride and handling characteristics.
Extensive use of aluminum in suspension control arms and cross members, magnesium components in the body and folding top structures, plus advanced composite body materials, make the XLR's overall weight the lowest in its class. Compared to its direct competitors, the Lexus SC 430 and Mercedes-Benz SL500, the XLR is not only the lightest vehicle at about 3,650 pounds, but it also has the longest wheelbase, widest track, lowest height and most horsepower. A rear-mounted transmission helps give the XLR a nearly perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution for ideal balance, as well as improving foot room for driver and passenger.
The XLR uses a sophisticated electronic chassis control system to manage the hardware that delivers the kind of ride and handling one would expect in a premium roadster. At the heart of XLR's active handling system is an integrated four-wheel version of StabiliTrak. It analyzes inputs from a series of sensors and applies braking force to the appropriate wheels to turn the car in the direction intended by the driver.
StabiliTrak also integrates the anti-lock brake system, traction control, and powertrain and Magnetic Ride Control system in order to manage the car's handling. Magnetic Ride Control uses four wheel-to-body displacement sensors to measure wheel motion over the road surface and responds by adjusting the shock damping almost instantly. The shock absorbers are filled with a fluid that contains suspended iron particles that respond to magnetic signals. The system responds by constantly monitoring motion and changing the damping forces at all four corners of the vehicle. The goal is to keep the body on an even plane, with smooth, well-controlled body motions even during aggressive maneuvers or on uneven road surfaces.
"The XLR contains a host of customized and personalized features befitting a world-class luxury roadster," said David Hill, vehicle line executive for GM performance cars. "These systems are integrated into the car in a way that enhances not complicates the driving experience, especially considering the agility and performance attributes of the XLR." For example, the adaptive cruise control can be monitored with the heads-up display, and the DVD-based navigation system can be voice-activated. Keyless access with push-button start eliminates fumbling for keys as long as the driver keeps a special fob in a pocket or purse.
The XLR convertible provides the ultimate convenience of a retractable hard top. Compared to soft-top convertibles, a retractable hard top is quieter with the top up, as well as more secure and more visually pleasing. Developed by Car Top Systems of Germany, the XLR can convert from coupe to roadster in less than 30 seconds with just the touch of a button.
No premium roadster would be complete without a superb powertrain, and XLR is no exception with its next-generation Northstar engine. Extensively re-engineered for the XLR's rear-wheel drive powertrain, this mostly new Northstar delivers more refinement along with a healthy increase in performance.
Rated at 315 horsepower, it features all of the high-tech features found in modern premium engines, including four valves per cylinder, variable camshaft phasing, electronic throttle control, and a host of small improvements that enhance refinement and reliability.
The rear-mounted five-speed automatic transmission was redesigned to handle the increased torque and horsepower of the new engine.
The Cadillac XLR will be built on a dedicated assembly line at GM's Bowling Green, Ky., plant beginning in the spring of 2003.

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