Some contests are won before they've even begun. Take Cadillac's long-awaited high-concept flagship, the XLR. I drove one away from Palm Springs, where Cadillac had brought the press to introduce its new two-seater, the other day. It had yet to meet its presumed natural rival, the Mercedes-Benz SL500, face to face, but it had accrued a significant honor already, for it was an instant winner of my infrequently presented Exceeds All Reasonable Expectations trophy.
As a car and as a sporty personal luxury device that dares to be anything but cheap, the XLR is very good, a relative bargain, even. But as a Cadillac, the XLR is almost unbelievable, so much more than might have materialized. In many ways, it's the best Cadillac there ever was. Considering some of the grim times GM's prestige marque has known lately, that may merit an award all by itself. Evidently, there are some things you can do with the new C6 Corvette platform. The XLR-which drives nothing like a Corvette, looks nothing like a Corvette, but could run close to one-is one of those things. We like.
How the XLR would fare against its most formidable competitor, however, the blue-chip SL500, we'd have to find out. We wanted the two to meet right away, as they inevitably will every day for years to come.... Read full article