He wasn’t even considering it. My friend, and the Cadillac ATS-V, that is. Having just received a promotion, he came to my office pondering which high-powered sport coupe he should buy. His short list included the BMW M4, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, and maybe, the Audi S5. They all have their merits, and all are pretty amazing cars. Yet, I put the ATS-V on the list.
Compared to the Germans, the ATS-V looks more brash, more American, more, well, Cadillac. While the stacked and swept-back headlamps gleam as usual, the grille gets blinged out with chrome mesh. A lower front splitter and carbon fiber hood with heat extractor vents look menacing while enhancing performance. I think the ATS sedan is rain-soaked vanilla, but the edgy rakish coupe is more aggressive with a lower roofline, wider stance, 18” alloys, and rearview that looks exotic with quad exhaust trumpets and those familiar “tail fins”.
The sporty interior feels tight, but it’s fit for a prince. Cut-and-sew dash, door, and console coverings employing microfiber suede look sumptuous, and while Cadillac claims the carbon fiber trim is real, it doesn’t look it. Heated Recaro sport seats hold you in place, but I’d skip the $2,300 option unless actual track days are in your future because they iron grip your sides. A power steering column and rear camera add convenience while sensors keep you from smooching curbs with the front accoutrement.
Plenty have complained about Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system that’s comprised of an iPad-style gesture-recognition touchscreen, voice controls, and touch pad for climate control below. The griping is nonsense. I find it easy to scroll through radio stations and connected smartphones to get where I want. It’s easy once you use it. Bluetooth calling/audio streaming, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and sweet Bose audio thump it.
Under the hood, things get serious. Unlike other V-Series Cadillacs with their big V8s, this one stokes performance with a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 that delivers 464 horsepower, 445 lb.-ft. of torque, and reasonable 17/23-MPG city/hwy. You can get it with an automatic transmission, but with the rev-matching six-speed manual, why would you? I don’t have a spare track at my disposal, so we’ll have to trust Cadillac when it claims the ATS-V runs 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds on the way to a 189 mph top speed. I can tell you, however, that it will blow by farm trucks and blip away from left-lane creepers as if tossed forward by Zeus.
Numbers don’t tell the entire story, although they give a pretty good hint. The ATS-V is an easy car to drive. The clutch won’t kill your knee in traffic, the shifter slides through the gears with mechanical precision, and Brembo disc brakes shed heat like a Labrador in winter. Electronic drive modes adjust the steering, throttle, and Magnetic Ride Control suspension for Tour, Sport, Track, and Ice/Snow. Unlike other electronic systems, MRC feels natural, allowing the car to absorb rough roads in Tour or wrench through corners in Sport/Track. It feels balanced, no matter the mode.
Many miles behind the ATS-V’s wheel proves I was right to put it on my friend’s list. The car’s robust power, smooth actions, and class-best chassis are completely worthy of consideration even if the carbon fiber trim, tight cabin, and rib-crushing seats could be finessed. While you can get an ATS Coupe for $37,995, expect to pay $69,935 for our loaded V-Series. Drive it against competitors and you’ll find it’s worth it.
2016 Cadillac ATS-V
Four-passenger, rwd coupe
Powertrain: 464hp 3.6-liter TTV6, 6-spd manual trans
Suspension f/r: Elect. Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 18”/18” alloy
Brakes f/r: Brembo disc/disc
Must-have features: Power, Style
0-60 mph: 3.9s
Top speed: 189 mph
Fuel economy: 17/23 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Lansing, MI
Base/as-tested price: $37,995/69,935