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My First Hour in Cadillac's Tesla-Fighter

Stocks in this article: GM TSLA

What kind of premium would the ELR warrant over the Volt? If GM doesn't want to sell it below MSRP, the premium needs to be calculated on the Volt price after the $5,000 discount.

If GM wants to sell the Cadillac ELR in the many thousands, I don't see how they could set an MSRP over $50,000 and expect to sell it without discounts after the first wave of enthusiasts have been burned off. Perhaps a nice round $50,000 even is the answer. Keep in mind that the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette starts under $52,000.

There has been plenty of speculation that GM will price the ELR much higher -- around $60,000 or perhaps even over $65,000. If they do, expect sales of the ELR to be very rare.

You also have to keep in mind that as I wrote recently, the Chevrolet Volt 2.0 will be launched in 2014 and it will be much-improved over the current Volt. I'm not going to rehash what I wrote in the June 11 article, but that leaves only a short window for the Cadillac ELR to fetch a premium price.

After examining the interior and exterior of the Cadillac ELR in person for a few hours, here is my verdict:

1. Exterior: While taste is subjective, I'm convinced that most people will find as I did -- that the Cadillac ELR is one of the most stunning designs in the automotive world right now. It will turn heads more than a Tesla (TSLA) and almost every other car, certainly those below $200,000.

If you buy your car mostly on exterior design, the Cadillac ELR will be on top of your list.

2. Interior: Let's start with the back seats. They are two fixed buckets, just like the Volt, but it's harder to get in and out given the lack of four doors. Once you are there, you can sit behind yourself if you are almost 6 feet tall and barely fit your feet and knees by the skin of your teeth.

Headroom? That's another story. What is adequate headroom in the Volt for a person at least 5-foot-11 tall is simply not there in the ELR. I don't know how short you would have to be in order to be okay in the ELR. Perhaps 5 feet, perhaps not?

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