2003 Luxury Hard-Top Convertibles Comparison Test Drive
Kings are great. Kings are powerful. King are rare. Kings get all the attention. Kings get all the girls. Kings park up front. Kings rule.
Yes, it’s good to be the king, unless another king butts in with his crown jewels. Then somebody’s gonna lose his head.
Cadillac’s claimant to the throne entered a rarefied market niche occupied by not one but two well established kings. Result? A trio of chopped off crania. Fortunately, all three tops popped right back on at the touch of a button.
Cadillac’s entry, a flagship designed to cast a halo of magnificence upon the entire division, was the 2004 XLR. This all new rear drive two door roadster with a power retractable hardtop, a lusty Northstar V8, more electronic wonders than you’d find in Bill Gates’ rumpus room, and a composite body as crisp and creased as a number 10 envelope. The XLR also lifted the price ceiling for Cadillac’s into an un-visited stratosphere: base sticker was $76,250.
Ahead in the line for the throne were tow rivals with strikingly similar resumes. Like the XLR, the Lexus SC430 and the Mercedes Benz SL500 were rear drive two door roadsters with power hardtops, mighty V8s, and whiz bang gadgets. The SC and the SL were adored by their subjects too: In 2002 Lexus and Mercedes sold roughly 14,000 each. If those figures don’t impress, consider that the SC430 started at $62,600 and the SL500 hots the cash register running at a cool $86,710.
Cadillac came prepared. The XLR was the most far reaching automobile to emerge from GM’s luxury division since the northstar engined 1993 Seville STS. With a price tag nearly $14,000 more than the Lexus, the XLR didn’t even play the usual American value card. Instead, the XLR was a no compromises swing for the fences – a car built to meet and beat the world’s best in a straight fight.