The Cadillac XLR roadster undergoes only a few changes for 2006: it receives Cadillac’s first application of Adaptive Forward Lighting, along with XM satellite radio with hidden antennae, a redesigned wood treatment on the centre stack and new Gold Mist and Infrared exterior colours to replace Satin Nickel and Crimson Pearl.

The big news is the addition of the supercharged XLR-V, which produces 443hp and 414 lb-ft of torque. It is one of two new V-Series for 2006, along with the STS-V which shares its engine; the two follow the 2005 introduction of the CTS-V, the first in the series.

The most expensive offering in the Cadillac lineup, the XLR is based on the Chevrolet Corvette C6’s platform, although it’s shorter in length, narrower, and taller in height than the Vette. Regular XLR models use a 4.6-litre Northstar V8 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The lightweight roof, made of aluminum, magnesium and composite exterior panels, contains a heated glass backlight and glass rear-quarter windows, and retracts in less than thirty seconds at the push of a button.

The XLR comes in a single trim line, and features Xenon headlights with washers and automatic control, fog lights, LED taillights and third brakelight, heated mirrors with driver’s side auto-dimming, rear parking assist, rain-sensing wipers, automatic dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, HomeLink garage door opener, head-up display (HUD), tire pressure monitoring system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, OnStar, DVD-based navigation system with multilingual voice recognition, memory/personalization package, express up/down windows, leather-wrapped wheel with audio and cruise controls, power tilt and telescopic steering column, cargo net, perforated leather heated and cooled seats with eight-way power adjusters, Bose six-CD stereo, Magnasteer speed-sensitive variable-assist steering, Magnetic Ride Control, and keyless access system.

The new adaptive lighting system improves night vision, by automatically adjusting the headlamp direction up to fifteen degrees. Vehicle speed and steering wheel angle input determine how fast and how far the headlamps turn.

The XLR-V uses a 4.4-litre Northstar engine with a positive displacement intercooled supercharger, mated to the all-new Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission. Chassis modifications include larger brakes, recalibrated Magnetic Ride Control, larger front stabilizer bar and an additional rear one, stiffer rear lower control arm bushings, larger wheels and tires, a power steering fluid cooler, and a higher-capacity fuel pump.

Trim differences on the XLR-V include polished wire mesh upper and lower front grilles, a V-specific hood, ten-spoke aluminum wheels, unique V and Supercharged badging, four polished stainless steel exhaust tips, black finish brake calipers with V logo, Zingana Wood trim, ebony leather with French stitching on seats and interior components, interior aluminum accent pieces, and Infra Red, Black Raven and Light Platinum exterior colour choices.

Cadillac’s edgy design works well on the XLR, which is beautifully proportioned and aggressive in appearance. It’s a great ride, especially in the monstrously powered XLR-V, and the icing on the cake is that the top goes down. And even nicer news is that the XLR’s price has dropped $5,755 from 2005.

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