Back when our grandparents were driving Packards and Hudsons, V stood for victory. But in the 21st century, V stands for outrageous power and speed, at least it does at Cadillac. Their V-Series high performance cars started with the CTS-V sedan and then added the larger STS-V. Well, now their in-house tuners have pumped up a 2-seater, this XLR-V roadster. It looks like the coolest and quickest Cadillac yet! 

The Cadillac XLR has already established itself as a powerful and entertaining hardtop roadster. But that wasn’t enough for Cadillac’s Performance Division. So, enter the 2006 XLR-V with enough serious tweaks to make its performance as sharp as its angular styling.

It starts down deep, with upgrades to the XLR’s already stiff Corvette-derived chassis and suspension. The front stabilizer bar is now thicker, and a new rear stabilizer bar added, along with stiffer rear lower control arm bushings

The standard double wishbone Magnetic Ride Control suspension is also recalibrated, and the Magnasteer power steering gets a fluid cooler, while wheels are 1-inch larger 10-spoke 19-inch alloys with low profile run-flat tires.

Under the hood, a downsized 4.4-liter Northstar twin-cam variable timing V8 adds a Roots-type supercharger, intercooler, and a high capacity fuel pump. Similar to the engine in the STS-V, roadster power jumps by more than a third to 443 horsepower, with most of the maximum 414 pound-feet of torque available at only 2,200 rpm. Torque which is pumped through GM’s new 6L80 rear-mounted 6-speed automatic. It features a quicker-shifting sport mode, plus Driver Shift manual mode. 

And it gives the XLR-V more go-power than any Cadillac we’ve ever driven. Punch the gas and 60 arrives in only 4.6-seconds. The quarter mile flies by in 13.0 seconds at 111 miles-per-hour. With the blower turning, the Northstar V8 punches the XLR-V off the line, spinning up to the 6,700 rpm redline in a rush. Both auto and manual shifts are firm and quick.

Firm and quick also describe the handling with the suspension mods substantially increasing roll stiffness and cornering response. Chassis flex is minimal, and even with the standard electronic stability system active, the XLR-V still displays a fun, tossable character.

Brakes are extra-large, cross-drilled rotors with black calipers and high-performance pads. Stops from 60 measured a good if not spectacular average of 122 feet.

Road ride shows just how solid the XLR’s platform is, with the body displaying little flex or twist. The V’s firm suspension and low profile tires, however, offer little give over big bumps, occasionally sending a rather non-Cadillac shake back through the body. But then this is hardly your traditional Caddy, as the XLR-V’s ever-so-edgy, ultra-aggressive stance shows.

Highlights include a V-Series signature wire mesh grill up front, new steerable headlights, and a raised power dome hood to make room for the supercharger. Compared to the standard XLR, the V adds deeper rocker panel skirts and supercharger script, while the tail ends with a taller spoiler, lower rear fascia, and a quartet of chromed exhaust tips.

The interior is pretty much standard XLR. But with its logical layout and high level of standard features, we are not disappointed. We also like the handsome combination of wood, leather and aluminum trim.  There are dual-zone automatic climate controls, premium Bose audio with XM satellite radio, and DVD navigation with a 7-inch color touch-screen that also plays DVD videos when the car is parked.

And this is a true four-season hot-rod convertible with a retractable steel top. While the top on the first XLR we tested two years ago had problems, our V’s cover was the ultimate smooth operator, cycling up or down in less than 30 seconds. But be aware that with the top down the already compact 11.6 cubic-foot trunk shrinks to only 4.4 cubic-feet.

With all that, it may be no surprise to many that this premium Cadillac roadster comes with a premium price of $100,000. But the XLR-V is not just premium; it is a premium performer. And like all current Cadillac V-Series, from the CTS-V to the STS-V, it delivers a quantum leap in prowess, while still keeping its sticker well below super-tuned Euro-sleds like the Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG.

So, on the 2006 Cadillac XLR-V, that V clearly stands for velocity. But it can also stand for victory; on the road, in the valet parking, and most importantly for America’s top luxury brand, victory on the showroom floor. 



  • Engine: 4.4-Liter Northstar Twin-cam Variable Timing V8
  • Horsepower: 443
  • Torque: 414 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 4.6 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.0 Seconds @ 111 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 122 Feet