By Arv Voss, Motor Matters

The 2014 Cadillac ELR luxury sports coupe is stunningly elegant with industry-leading extended range technology in an electric-based vehicle.

The ELR's styling displays a new and exciting proportion for Cadillac, as well as a new design theme for the interior that is sure to define the direction for the future, showcasing an elegant ambience, state-of-the-art technology and highly crafted fit and finish.

ELR technology delivers a full driving range that exceeds 300 miles, combining the energy of pure electric driving with an efficient range extending generator in the form of a 1.4-liter, 16-valve inline 4-cylinder engine. The electric driving capability comes from two electric motors with 117 to 135 kW of maximum drive power; 55 kW generating power, and 162 kW total system power. Horsepower is 84 at 4,800 rpms (gas) and 181-hp for electric. Torque is rated at 295 lb.-ft.

The gas engine and electric motors are mounted up front and drive the front wheels through a planetary gear set. An exclusive Regen-on-Demand feature enhances the ELR's operational efficiency in combination with selectable drive modes, allowing the driver to temporarily regenerate energy from the ELR's momentum into electricity that can be stored in the battery pack for future utilization.

Studies have shown that the average commute distance amounts to roughly 30 miles, which would enable the 2014 Cadillac ELR to operate exclusively on electricity, requiring zero gasoline with zero emissions.

The new ELR delivers a bold, athletic, forward-leaning profile that emphasizes Cadillac's new, progressive design theme evolution. The dramatic overall wedge shape is reinforced by a prominent, sweeping bodyline accented by 20-inch wheels that push out to the edges of the body.

Airflow is managed to help the vehicle slip through the air for minimal drag, with aerodynamics playing a critical role in the design with features such as a flush front fascia and grille -- with active shutters behind the grille opening -- as well as tapered fascia corners that enable air to move easily around the car reducing drag.

Moving to the inside, luxurious appointments, ideal proportions in a flowing and ergonomically executed cockpit were top priorities for the 2014 ELR interior. A continuous feature line from the instrument panel through the doors to the back glass was created to establish a complete and harmonious cockpit environment. Ultimately, the ELR's interior is a convergence of expressive forms and premium materials, delivering the optimal balance of sport and luxury.

The ELR's 2+2 layout showcases carefully selected materials, including available carbon fiber and ultra-premium Opus semi-aniline leather seating. Cadillac's CUE with Navigation is an integral component of the ELR's driving experience, displaying energy usage and charging options in addition to the standard infotainment options, such as phone contacts and song information.

The Cadillac ELR's provides an engaging driving experience, supported by the extended range propulsion system. The 295 lb.-ft. of torque is roughly 12 percent more than the 3.6-liter V-6 in the SRX.

The Sport Mode also contributes to its responsive driving experience, automatically reconfiguring the accelerator pedal response to provide quicker torque application and more sensitive feedback to driver inputs through altered suspension and steering settings. Sport Mode is one of four selectable driving styles: Tour, Mountain, and Hold Mode.

The ELR is capable of delivering a GM-estimated range of about 35 miles of pure electric driving, depending on terrain, driving techniques and temperature. Charging the ELR's battery can be done with a 120-V electrical outlet or a dedicated 240-V charging station. The ELR may be completely recharged in about 4.5 hours using a 240-V charging station, depending on the outside temperature.

My test pre-volume production 2014 Cadillac ELR wore a Radiant Silver metallic exterior and featured a Jet Black interior with Carbon Fiber and polished wood trim accents. The base price was set at $75,000 while option packages and destination charges raised the final tally to $79,700.

The 2014 ELR is essentially Cadillac's rendition of the Chevrolet Volt, but with more expressive and appealing styling, luxury appointments and enhanced power and performance.

The ELR is a beautiful automobile regardless of its propulsion. The torque delivers quite a punch, either off-the-line or when already moving. The quality and comfort of the ride is firm, but totally acceptable and not at all harsh.

The handling feel from steering to braking is positive and sporty, while the Regen-on-Demand through the paddle shifters, effectively delivers the sensation of engine braking at one's fingertips, without the necessity of shifting gears, since there really aren't traditionally definitive gears with the planetary transmission.

The 2014 Cadillac ELR delivers and ergonomically sound solution to electric propulsion, with a means to eliminate electric range anxiety. In an ideal scenario with a short commute, say in the 35-mile range, with the resource to recharge at each end, there would be no need to rely on the gasoline engine.

The ELR is decidedly expensive, even after potential rebates and tax credits, but it definitely delivers more elegance and style than the majority of its competitors.

SPECIFICATIONS

2014 CADILLAC ELR

VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 2+2-passenger FWD compact coupe

BASE PRICE____________________ $75,000 (as tested: $79,700)

MOTOR TYPE___________________16-valve 4-cyl + Lithium-ion electric

DISPLACEMENT_________________1.4-liter

HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 84 at 4800 rpm 181 hp electric

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 295 at rpm

TRANSMISSION_________________Planetary gear set

OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 186.0 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___38.4 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________ 4,050 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY________________ 9.3 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 32 mpg city, 82 mpg highway (mpgE)