2006 Cadillac XLR-V
Cadillac's two-seat XLR roadster has hardly set Mercedes-Benz aquiver with its sales success, but the high-performance XLR-V might have the chops to win a few sales away from the SL by offering SL55 AMG pace for loaded SL500 money. Cosmetic changes between stock and hot rod XLR are pretty subtle: polished wire mesh upper and lower grilles; nineteen-inch, ten-spoke aluminum wheels; and four stainless-steel exhaust tips. The XLR's interior has been slicked up a bit with ebony wood, aluminum accents, and additional leather trim. Cadillac has enhanced the chasis with a stiffer front anti-roll bar, the addition of a rear bar, and a sportier Magnetic Ride Control calibration. The brakes have been uprated, with bigger diameter 13.4-inch front and 13.0-inch rear cross-drilled rotors. The naturally aspirated XLR is hardly underpowered, with 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, but the V's supercharged and intercooled 4.4-liter, 32-valve DOHC Northstar V-8 engine makes an exceedingly healthy 440 hp and 425 lb-ft--enough to push the V from 0-60 mph in less than five seconds. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission featuring GM's Performance Algorithm Shifting (PAS), which downshifts under high g cornering to ensure you don't hunt for a gear on corner exit.
2006 Dodge Charger SRT8
The 425-hp Dodge Charger SRT8 is a rockin' muscle car. It would be easy to dismiss it as yet another twin to the Chrysler 300C SRT8 and the Dodge Magnum SRT8, but the Charger establishes itself as the sportiest of its brethren with the firmest suspension calibration of the bunch and look-at-me spoilers and scoops. Not only is the Charger SRT8 the athlete of the group, we expect it to be an amazing bargain at well under $40,000. With a 0-60 time of around five seconds flat, the Charger SRT8 will show its taillights to all eight of the $50k plus sport sedans in our May issue. The pushrod Hemi V-8 found in all the SRT8 models makes 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque the old fashioned way: displacement--6.1 liters of it, to be exact. Keeping things in check are massive Brembo brakes and sport-tuned stability and traction control. With the ESP off, the tail will hang out at angles that could put a grin on the face of even the most jaded automotive journalist. Mopar enthusiasts will be able to spot the SRT8's unique front and rear spoilers, a functional hood scoop, massive twenty-inch five-spoke wheels, red-painted brake calipers, dual 3.5-inch exhausts, and, when they pop the hood, the retro black and orange paint on the engine.
Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500
SVT, and Carroll Shelby, get back in the Mustang tuning business with the Shelby Cobra GT500, which should arrive in showrooms next spring. In place of the standard Mustang GT's 300-hp, 4.6-liter V-8, the GT500 uses a 5.4-liter engine, supercharged for an estimated 450 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque, hooked up to a six-speed manual gearbox. Compared to standard Mustangs, the GT500's chassis changes are limited to springs, anti-roll bars, dampers, and bigger brakes. Inside, the GT500 backs off a bit from the Mustang's retro vibe, dropping the '60s-look instruments in favor of a contemporary design. The tach is now on the right, which SVT feels is the more prominent position, less likely to be obscured because drivers' use their right hand for shifting. Outside, designers have layered some Shelby Mustang cues over the top of the old SVT Cobra stuff. The double white stripes, the reshaped upper and lower grille, and the new aluminum hood with function dual air extractors all nod to the Shelby Mustangs of old. More modern touches include round fog lamps set into the corners of the front fascia, a new rear bumper that extends down to a rear air diffuser, a redesigned (and functional) rear spoiler, and ten-spoke nineteen-inch wheels.