Face Off: Tesla Model S vs Cadillac ELR

One cannot have a conversation about the future of cars without talking about Tesla and one cannot discuss the history of cars without mentioning Cadillac. In this decade, the two motor companies produce cars that battle it out in the same price brackets in the United States of America. We take a look at what makes the better car: the past or the future?


Tesla Model S:

Design-wise, the Tesla Model S is one of the most underrated cars of the 2010’s. Its sleek, uncluttered profile is often missed in the vast swathes of loud, tempestuous designs of current petrol driven sports coupes and luxury cars. The Model S’ subtlety is a welcome breath of fresh air in a cloudy atmosphere of brashness.

Tesla Model S P85D
The Tesla Model S is an elegant, understated super sedan

The smooth curves that define the sedan perfectly integrates the front grille along with the brand’s insignia up front with the gently swooping roof ending in an almost inconspicuous boot-lip spoiler. Unlike electric cars from conventional manufacturers such as Fiat, VW, Mercedes Benz and Audi, the Model S has been designed from the ground up to be an electric car. As such, the four door sedan’s body has been developed to make optimal use of its electric motors to reduce load on the batteries.

Cadillac ELR:

The Cadillac ELR is almost the anti-Model S. While the Tesla sedan plays with themes of minimalism, the very first hybrid Caddy is all muscle and drama through and through. The hybrid Cadillac’s large vertically stacked headlights and even larger grille endows it with a road presence rivaled only by supercars.

The Cadillac ELR is a sumptuous blend of muscle and luxury unseen in this segment
The Cadillac ELR is a sumptuous blend of muscle and luxury unseen in this segment

The rear end of the hybrid Cadillac is far more restrained and complements the raucous front end rather well. Unlike most sedans, the Cadillac ELR sports its reverse parking light as a separate unit found in the center on the lower half of the bumper. The boot-lip spoiler features a secondary brake light that runs along the width of the car further enhancing its road presence.

Winner: Cadillac ELR


Tesla Model S:

Tesla’s minimalist approach continues on the inside as well. Save for the sterring mounted controls and hazard indicator button, the Model S features no buttons whatsoever. The dashboard features a single large portrait oriented tablet as the main (and only) control panel for the electric sedan’s various features such as air conditioning, driving modes, GPS navigation and even the car manual.

The Model S' interior is very minimal
The Model S’ interior is very minimal

The rest of the cabin is a sleek combination of woodwork, leather and aluminum that provides a sense of luxury without invading the personal space of its occupants. The spacious rear seats even provide a 2+1 seating arrangement aiding in the Model S’ practicality. Similar to high end Bimmers, the touchscreen infotainment system is slightly aligned to the driver’s side producing a more driver centric cabin.

Cadillac ELR:

The Cadillac ELR’s interior is a seductive blend of wood, leather, aluminum and gloss. The dizzying array of buttons, knobs and switches is a far cry from the completely bare Tesla Model S. While the Tesla Model S focuses more on themes of luxury and comfort, the all black interior and aluminium and faux carbon fibre panels of the Cadillac ELR attempts to be a sportier looking model.

Themes of luxury and sportiness continue inside the cabin as well
Themes of luxury and sportiness continue inside the cabin as well

Unlike the Model S’ four plus five seating, the center console of the ELR runs straight through the middle providing a limousine style travel experience for rear passengers.

Winner: Cadillac ELR

Under the Hood

Tesla Model S:

Here is where the Tesla Model S really comes into its own. The Model S provides unimaginable performance figures for an electric car and rivals that of supercars. Powering the range topping variant is a pair of engines each residing on either end of the car. With a combined total power output of an astounding 691 hp, the Model S holds a zero to hundred time a mere 3.2 seconds. Power is sent to all four wheels via a one speed transmission.

Cadillac ELR:

This is where the Cadillac loses to the Model S. While the Tesla produces numbers that give even current generation supercars a run for their money, the ELR is basically a reskinned front wheel drive Chevy Volt. As such, the hybrid drivetrain produces a meek 217 hp and a peak torque figure of 295 lb-ft. 

Under the Cadillac's bonnet
Under the Cadillac’s bonnet

Winner: Tesla Model S


Despite the Tesla Model S losing out in terms of sheer visual spectacle, the power driving the wheels, four wheel drive system and the wide range of variants to choose from puts the electric sports sedan right on top and serves as a benchmark that other manufacturers should follow while developing EVs of their own.

8.8 out of 10
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