That brings us to the price. In theory, a head-turning Cadillac with all the trimmings should be worth more than a well-outfitted compact sedan, and thus help its maker cover the cost of the battery technology. That’s all well and good, but Cadillac set the base price of the ELR at $75,000, before adding in $900 for delivery, and deducting $7,500 for a federal tax credit. That’s $40,000 more than a Volt! And for that kind of scratch, you could buy a car in a whole different league, like an Audi A7 TDI or Tesla Model S. That leaves us wondering, who will buy this car?
Don’t get us wrong, it’s a lot nicer to drive than a Volt. You can barely hear the gas engine when it comes on. The steering is tight and responsive, although saying it’s as agile as the new CTS would be wrong. The interior is beautifully finished and sumptuous. Even Cadillac’s dreaded CUE infotainment system is less frustrating and more predictable than the sea of jumbled flat-surface touch buttons in the Volt, and the graphics are slick.
But, ultimately, driving the ELR feels rather ordinary. It lacks the zip one might expect from a high-priced coupe. Being a rolling sculpture, visibility is very limited.
Still, as nice as the ELR is, we couldn’t escape the feeling driving it around that for this kind of money, we’d a lot rather be piloting a Tesla, which is a lot quicker, sportier, and roomier, and gives you a whole lot more electric range. One staff member dismissed the ELR as a $75,000 version of the Chevrolet Cruze (on which the Volt and the ELR are, indeed, based). Ouch!
The time we spent in the ELR was with an example rented from Cadillac. We’ll see if the car leaves a better impression once we buy our own to test, after they officially go on sale in January.