Based on the upcoming Corvette C8

The Cadillac XLR was a high-performance, luxury roadster built from 2004 to 2009 on the same platform as the Chevrolet Corvette C6. The nameplate could return when GM introduces the mid-engined, C8-generation Corvette.

Although there’s no official confirmation from Cadillac, leaked photos of a key fob suggest that the luxury brand will soon unveil a mid-engined sports car with a retractable roof. More specifically, the drawings on the fob look like the upcoming mid-engined Corvette, but also show a convertible roof. The C8-generation Corvette will break cover in 2019, so the Cadillac might follow sometime in 2020, for the 2021 model year. That’s a long wait, so here’s a rendering of the luxury roadster and everything we already know about it.

2021 Cadillac XLR Successor Exterior

  • Big grille
  • Slim headlamps
  • Profile based on Corvette
  • Unique rear end
  • Foldable hard-top
2021 Cadillac XLR Successor
- image 812365

Our rendering is obviously based on the upcoming Corvette C8. Although we have yet to see the sports car in official photos, we had plenty of spy shots to draw inspiration from. Our designer kept the proportions and most of the profile of the Corvette, but added a handful of Cadillac-specifici cues.

Up front, the Corvette’s almost flat nose became taller in order to make way for a big grille. Granted, a mid-engined sports car doesn’t really need a grille at the front, but Caddy will probably want to keep the vehicle familiar within the lineup.

The big grille is flanked by a pair of slim headlamps, underlined by chrome trim extending from the frame for a luxurious look.

Down below, the bumper grille looks a bit more traditional, as it extends over the entire width of the fascia. It sends air to the front brakes and it’s flanked by LED fog lamps with chrome surrounds. The front hood is obviously shorter than on any other Cadillac in production due to the mid-engined configuration. The flared front fenders remind me a bit of the first-generation XLR.

While the profile shares much with the Corvette C8, the vents on the front and rear fenders are unique to this car. Of course, the key difference here is the roadster configuration with a retractable hard-top. The upcoming Corvette will probably offer a convertible version too, but Chevy will most likely go with a soft-top and a targa layout.

2021 Cadillac XLR Successor
- image 812366
The rear section could remain similar to the Corvette, but look for new taillights.

Cadillac might opt to go with a design that extends over the rear fenders, somewhat similar to the old XLR. The engine lid should have a unique design and opening pattern to allow the hard-top to stow under the panel behind the seats.

All told, while the old XLR had nothing in common with the Corvette styling-wise, the new sports car will probably share quite a few features in order to lower development costs. But it will be a unique Cadillac nonetheless.

2021 Cadillac XLR Successor Interior

  • Unique layout
  • Luxury features
  • Leather and Alcantara
  • Sports seats
  • State-of-the-art tech
  • Numerous options
2014 - 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray High Resolution Interior
- image 488986

Note: current Chevrolet Corvette pictured here.

The fact that this vehicle is a couple of years away makes it difficult to predict what it will look like inside the cabin. That’s because Cadillac will probably introduce a new design language by 2020 and, more importantly, it will probably choose to give the XLR a unique layout inside the cabin. It will also step away from the Corvette’s sporty configuration for a more luxurious look.

All told, while it will have a driver-oriented configuration and sports seats and a sports steering wheel, it will come with plenty of luxury features.

Expect both the dashboard and the door panels to be wrapped in high-quality leather, while the seats should feature some Alcantara inserts too.

Cadillac will probably offer a full-leather option as well.

2016 Cadillac CT6
- image 624551

The second-gen XLR will be fitted with GM’s latest infotainment system, the latest apps, and a premium, state-of-the-art audio system as standard. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a telemetry system in there as well, just in case you want to take this car for a spin on a race track.

I will also feature a lightweight roof that will fold and unfold in a few seconds at the push of a button.

It won’t have too much storage space though. You will be able to fit a suitcase and some smaller items under the front hood, but there won’t be much left behind the seats, where the hard-top will go.

2021 Cadillac XLR Successor Drivetrain

  • Turbocharged V-8
  • At least 500 horsepower
  • Dual-clutch transmission
  • Hybrid drivetrain possible
2021 Cadillac XLR Successor
- image 812367
There's no indication as to what a successor to the XLR might feature under the hood, but Cadillac already has the proper engine for this car.

I’m talking about the twin-turbo, 4.2-liter V-8 that motivates the big CT6 V-Sport. The mill is already plenty powerful at 550 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque and it’s safe to assume it’s capable of more than 600 horses.

However, this engine was developed for front-engined cars and Cadillac might not be able to use it in a mid-engined vehicle. And even if it could, redesigning it for this purpose might be too expensive.

This means that unlike its predecessor, the second-gen XLR will most likely share its engine with the Corvette C8. But it remains to be seen which one, because the C8 will be offered with three different drivetrains according to recent rumors.

2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 753114
Word has it Chevy will offer a base model with the 6.2-liter V-8 from the outgoing Corvette. This engine will have close to 500 horsepower.

Although it’s not a bad option for Cadillac, the luxury firm might go with a more powerful option. There are rumors the Chevy too might use the twin-turbo 4.2-liter V-8 from the CT6, but there’s also talk about a brand-new, 5.5-liter V-8. This unit could generate around 850 horsepower and we might see it in the XLR as well. However, GM may choose to decrease its output to around 600 horsepower.

Another interesting scenario is that in which Chevrolet will pair the 5.5-liter V-8 to an electric motor. This hybrid setup would inject around 1,000 horsepower in the Corvette C8. That’s a crazy output for a Cadillac, but I’m sure GM will also develop a less powerful one.

So unlike its predecessor, the upcoming XLR could feature a hybrid drivetrain too.

While the gas-only version will be RWD, the hybrid will have an all-wheel-drive setup. It’s safe to assume that the XLR will arrive with a dual-clutch automatic, with no option for a manual.

2021 Cadillac XLR Successor Prices

2021 Cadillac XLR Successor
- image 812366

There’s no word as to how much this luxury roadster might cost, but it will definitely fetch more than the Corvette C8. The Chevy is rumored to kick in at less than $100,000 in standard guise, but it will start from around $150,000 in its range-topping, non-hybrid trim. This means that the Cadillac XLR could cost close to $200,000 before options.

2021 Cadillac XLR Successor Competition

Audi R8 Spyder

2019 Audi R8 Exterior
- image 801639

The market is packed with mid-engined sports cars, but only a handful combine high performance with luxury the way the XLR will. The R8 isn’t particularly luxurious inside the cabin, but it includes some premium features and delivers solid performance. Powered by a 5.2-liter V-10 engine shared with the Lamborghini Huracan, the R8 Spyder hits the street with 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 takes 3.6 seconds, while top speed comes in at 197 mph. Pricing for the R8 Spyder starts from $177,100, which should make the German roadster a bit more affordable than the upcoming Cadillac XLR.

Read our full review of the 2019 Audi R8 Spyder.

Ferrari 488 Spider

2016 Ferrari 488 Spider
- image 638272

A pure-bred sports car, the 488 Spider is a bit more extreme than the XLR at first glance, but the Caddy might be just as capable thanks to its Corvette-derived drivetrain. What’s more, it has a luxurious interior too, packed in leather, Alcantara, and available with a wide variety of color options and materials. The 488 packs a lot of oomph as well. Its turbocharged, 3.9-liter V-8 generates a whopping 660 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque, pushing the Italian supercar from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds. The 488 SPider is obviously the more expensive car in this list, starting from around $265,000.

Read our full story on the Ferrari 488 Spider.


2021 Cadillac XLR Successor Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 804403

The second-generation XLR is nothing more than a rumor now. There’s no specific proof that the key fob is real and Cadillac has plenty of issues to solve before it can launch a luxury sports car. The firm is obviously more interested to develop more SUVs, which makes sense given the current market trends, and it remain to be seen if it needs and wants an expensive roadster in the lineup. But a second-generation XLR is a nice thought and it could be more successful than its predecessor.

  • Leave it
    • Just a rumor for now
    • Will it be successful?

Further reading

2006 Cadillac XLR
- image 31487

Read our full review on the 2004 - 2009 Cadillac XLR.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert -
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: