A high-performance version of Cadillac's sexy XLR roadster, called the XLR-V, debuts for 2006, with a 469-hp supercharged V8. Changes to the regular XLR are minimal.

The new limited production XLR-V has a base price that pushes $100,000 and doesn't look much different from the base XLR, save for a few trim bits and larger wheels. The V version packs a 443-horsepower supercharged 4.4-liter Northstar V8 engine that enables it to hit 60 mph in less than five seconds. A single expert craftsman builds each engine at GM’s Performance Build Center in Wixom, Mich.

A new six-speed automatic transmission lets the driver change gears manually in the XLR-V with the tap of the gearshift lever. Several chassis upgrades ensure enhanced ride and handling, while the interior is enhanced with exotic Zingana wood trim.

New for 2006, in both the base XLR and the XLR-V, is Cadillac’s first application of adaptive headlamps that pivot in conjunction with the car’s steering wheel to illuminate the road around curves.

In the base XLR, Gold Mist and Infrared exterior colors replace Satin Nickel and Crimson Pearl and a revised interior center stack includes more wood detail for 2006. XM satellite radio is now standard on both models and the antenna has been hidden.

The base XLR continues with its plenty-powerful 4.6-liter V8, which employs advanced engine technology like variable valve timing and electronic throttle control to generate 320 hp. It's only a little more than a second slower to 60 mph than the hot-rod XLR-V. A five-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift function remains the only available transmission.

The rear-drive XLR is based on Chevrolet’s Corvette. Its chassis is largely aluminum to reduce vehicle weight. This, combined with a nearly perfect front-to-rear weight distribution and a sophisticated double-wishbone suspensions, translates into excellent balance and athletic handling.

Stability control, traction control and four-wheel disc antilock brakes are standard. GM's Magnetic Ride Control is also standard (it employs shock absorbers filled with metallic infused fluid that, when magnetized, stiffens or softens the suspension according to what the car's computer dictates based on road conditions). Special 18-inch run flat Michelin ZP performance tires, mounted to spun-cast aluminum wheels, complete the performance package.

With chiseled exterior styling highlighted by a forceful front grille, the XLR comes with a power retractable hardtop that enables it to transform from closed coupe to open roadster in less than 30 seconds. Inside, the XLR is appropriately stylish, with a contemporary design highlighted by eucalyptus wood, aluminum accents and distinctive gauges. The car’s power perforated-leather seats are heated and cooled and incorporate side-impact airbags.

As befits its flagship status, the XLR comes packed with the high-tech features, such as a head-up display, laser-guided adaptive cruise control, keyless access with push-button start and a voice-activated navigation system.

Buy this Vehicle if:

You like convertibles, but want the security of a metal roof; you're looking for an American alternative to Mercedes-Benz' SL and BMW's 6-Series convertible; you like the Chevrolet Corvette but consider it déclassé; style and luxury are just as important as performance; two seats are enough.

Keep Looking if:

You'd feel inferior driving anything other than a Mercedes or Bimmer; you don't like your hairdo to get messed up and can't bear driving in a non-air-conditioned cabin, which means convertibles aren't for you; performance matters more than luxury and you'd be happier with the less expensive Chevy Corvette.

Who Fits?

Only two; seat and steering wheel adjust for a variety of builds; the suspension decision affords more spacious foot wells than in other sports cars.

Options Worth Splurging on:

There are none. Your only choice is between light and dark-wood interior accents, which are no-cost options.

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