Jay Leno is almost as famous for his expansive car collection as he is for his late-night TV appearances — at least in the gearhead circles. In addition to owning numerous rare and hugely expensive vehicles, Leno will often bring in guests — usually in the four-wheeled form — where he explores, pokes, prods, and discusses whatever vehicle is gracing his domain. The results of these “interviews” are filmed and aired in episodes of Jay Leno’s Garage.
One of the greatest perks of being Jay Leno must be having access to cars that have not yet even been put into production yet. That was the case recently, when the Cadillac (NYSE:GM) ELR paid Leno a visit along with Frank Saucedo, the Director of Advanced Design at GM.
With its sleek lines, aggressive stance, and a crisp, modern look, the Cadillac ELR points to the future design strategy at Cadillac. More surprisingly, the attractive outside appearance belies the fact that the ELR is indeed a hybrid vehicle, running a similar drivetrain to Chevrolet’s Volt extended range vehicle.
In the past, hybrid vehicles have established a reputation for being dull, boring, and mediocre drives, with superior fuel economy as their sole selling point. True enough, cars like the Volt and Toyota’s (NYSE:TM) Prius can stretch a gallon of fuel better than most. However, the sleepy, dull characteristics tend to be translated to the exterior as well — it’s safe to say that the Prius won’t be winning any prestigious design awards any time soon. The ELR on the other hand, just might. Actually, it did.
Cadillac has taken the fuel-sipping nature of the Volt and wrapped it in a package that is not only pleasant to look at, but swaddles the driver in all the leather, wood, and carbon fiber bits that one would expect from a luxury car. It also takes notes from Cadillac’s long design history, including the vertical headlights and tail lamps — a Cadillac tradition since ’48, according to Saucedo.
In the clip, Leno addresses one of the more controversial points of the ELR — the solid grill that is essentially not a grill. Instead, the ELR pulls air in from underneath, according the Saucedo, and by filling in the traditional grill space, the car sports a drag coefficient of 0.305.
The new Caddy will hit retail in early 2014, according to the company’s website. It features a 1.4-litre engine, good for about 84 horsepower, but remember that the gasoline engine is not the one responsible for moving the car alone — that job is left primarily to the electric motor and the 295 pound-feet of torque that it provides.
While the ELR won’t be beating the CTS-V, from which it takes several cues, in a race anytime soon, what it does do is make a significant step forward for the future of hybrid technology, and crucially, show the world that hybrids can, in fact, be fun, attractive, and comfortable vehicles.
Check out the whole episode of Jay Leno’s Garage below: