Four years ago in Detroit, Cadillac unveiled the Converj concept, an idea for an angular small coupe powered by the electric-gas hybrid drive of the Chevy Volt. It comes to life today at the Detroit Auto Show as the 2014 Cadillac ELR.
The ELR changes little from the original concept, displaying the same vertical LED head and taillights, with the headlights merely widened a fraction. Its sleek silhouette appears modern and slender, the look that will soon spread across the Cadillac line. It's one of those rare cars that looks slightly better in pictures than it does in person, but it’s still a tasty machine.
Powered by a tweaked version of the Chevy Volt drivetrain, the 1.4-liter engine and 16.5-kWh battery remain. But the ELR boasts a slightly more powerful electric motor, that combines to produce 207 hp and 295 lb. ft of torque. With the initial oomph an electric motor provides, Cadillac claim the ELR will accelerate like a BMW M3 (if only for a split second); GM declined to say how much the ELR might improve on the 8.5-second 0-60 mph time of the Volt.
Electric range is slightly less than the Volt (35 miles vs. 38) due to a heavier curb weight and more power, but by using slightly more of the battery’s power, it still nips at the Volt’s heels. The interior is typically Cadillac, trimmed with the level of opulence one would expect for a luxury coupe.
Like the Volt, the true benefit to the ELR is the lack of time spent at the pump. Cadillac claims the electric-gas hybrid technology will provide driving range exceeding 300 miles. A “Regen on Demand” systems aids efficiency too, by allowing the driver to temporarily regenerate energy by capturing the energy produced by momentum, and turning it into electricity that can be stored in the battery for later use. Pulling a paddle on the steering wheel engages the system.
The big question is what all this Cadillac goodness will cost. Official numbers have not been released, but expect base price to run around $60,000 before any tax incentives, a number that will make the ELR a low-volume niche car. On paper and in the metal, the production ELR manages to save much of the Converj's show car appeal. I only hope it drives as well as it looks.