The ELR's styling is a wedge issue. Cadillac says it's a design and technology statement for the brand—a halo car to replace the XLR, the former Corvette derivative delivered with Art & Science flanks.
True, it's a futuristic show-stopper, but it's also a Prius-like doorstopper in its outline, wildly out of context with cars like the ATS, CTS, and Escalade.
The ELR owes much to the 2009 Converj concept, and even to the recent CTS Coupe. It's one of the rare cars to emerge from the design studio and to make it to showrooms largely intact. The 20-inch show-car wheels keep the hiked-up proportions in play, and the rakish stance is exciting from the LED headlights and active-aero grille through its deep shoulders, to the elongated points drawn out of its LED taillamps. There's a small trunk lid tucked discreetly into what looks like should be a hatchback. Lots of details are hidden on the ELR, in fact: the tailpipe is cloaked behind the rear fascia, the door handles are scooped out behind the door skins, and the fuel ports are discreetly cut into the fenders--the charging port up front, the gas flap out back.
As a front-drive coupe, the ELR looks exciting. The question on the floor is whether it reads Cadillac or connects successfully with people who want to buy a luxury car. There's none of the languid styling language of Cadillac's latest El Miraj concept, and even the new ATS Coupe downplays its passing resemblance with larger quarter windows and a softer appeal.
There's no ambiguity inside the ELR. It's stitched together from the same multitude of trims and lines you'll see in the ATS and CTS, and while we've seen other opinions, we think the theme works well for Cadillac's more glam executions. There's piano-black trim, a sueded headliner, rich leather, and some carbon-fiber accents. Occasionally, all of them meet in complex junctions on the dash and doors, but the layered look is appealing. Cadillac's CUE interlaces two large TFT displays that cascade a cool glow throughout the cabin, and the dash's gentle curve toward and around the driver is a welcoming gesture.