It has been about five years since a Cadillac V series model has graced either one the Cheers & Gears’ garages (if you’re wondering, that would be the 2011 CTS-V Coupe that our Managing Editor drove). It isn’t for our lack of trying. I can give you a stack of emails to the person who handles General Motors’ fleet in Detroit that list the ATS-V and CTS-V as a possible test vehicle. But if you keep bugging someone over time, something is bound to change. That is what happened this summer as a Cadillac ATS-V coupe rolled into the Cheers and Gears’ Detroit garage. Was it worth the wait?
The standard Cadillac ATS coupe is already a model that stands out in crowd thanks to an aggressive look. The V turns that aggressiveness up to eleven. The front features a dual mesh grille setup (a small one on top and a larger one below), a narrow slot between the grille and hood; and a new bulging hood with an air extractor. A set of optional eighteen-inch alloy wheels fill in the wheel wells nicely and show off the massive Brembo brakes. The back comes with a rear wing and diffuser with quad exhaust tips.
Our ATS-V tester featured the optional Carbon Fiber package that adds an exposed carbon fiber weave for the front splitter, hood extractor, and rear diffuser. It also comes with a larger rear wing and extensions for the rocker panels. I’ll admit I found the carbon fiber package to be a bit much with our tester’s red paint at first. It’s like going into an important meeting wearing a zoot suit and alligator shoes. You’ll make an impression, but is it the one you want to put out into the world? I did grow to like this combination as the week went on. That said, I would skip the carbon fiber package. For one, you have to very careful not cause any damage to lower parts when driving over speed bumps and other road imperfections. For example, the low ride height makes it easy for the front splitter to be cracked. Second, this optional package is $5,000. There are better ways you can use that $5,000 such as getting a new set of tires or a plane ticket to get you over to Cadillac’s V driving school.
Inside, the ATS-V is a bit of a disappointment. For the nearly $80,000 price tag of our tester, you would think that it would look and feel the part. In certain areas, the ATS-V does. Cadillac has appointed parts of the interior with carbon fiber and suede to give it a sporty feel. Our tester featured the optional Recaro seats which are the first set I actually liked sitting in. A lot of this is due to how you could adjust seat bolstering to make yourself actually fit into the seat, not sitting on top of it.
But this where the good points end with the ATS-V’s interior. Despite all of the premium touches Cadillac has added, it doesn’t feel like it is worth the price. Take for example the center stack with CUE. It is just a sheet of piano black trim and makes the interior feel somewhat cheap. You’ll find more piano black trim throughout the interior which reinforces this. The instrument cluster is the same that you’ll find in the standard ATS only with a different font. It would have been nice if Cadillac could have pulled the 12.3-inch screen setup they use on the CTS-V as it looks nicer and would provide the key details needed for a driver. CUE still hasn’t gotten any better in terms of performance and overall usability. Yes, Cadillac has added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration to CUE. But we had issues with CarPlay with the system not recognizing our phone and apps crashing. The back seat? Just use it for storage. Trying to fit someone back there could cause you to be accused of cruel and unusual punishment.
Power for the ATS-V comes from a twin-turbo 3.6L V6 with 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque. This can be paired with either a six-speed manual or our tester’s eight-speed automatic. Start up the engine and it delivers a meaty, if somewhat muted growl. Don’t let that fool you, this engine will throw you in the back of your seat with no issue. Yes, the turbos do mean you’ll have a moment or two for that rush of power to arrive. But once the turbos spool, hold on. Power comes on at a linear rate and never lets up. The eight-speed automatic delivers crisp upshifts, but it does take a second or so for it to downshift. If you’re wondering about fuel economy, the EPA rates the ATS-V automatic at 16 City/24 Highway/19 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 18 mpg.
Where the ATS-V truly shines is in the handling. The first time I took the ATS-V down a curvy road, I was gobsmacked at how well it hustled around the corners with no issues. Enter into a corner and ATS-V hunkers down thanks to sticky Michelin Pilot Sport. There is little body roll and the steering provides quick and precise turn-in. The ATS was already a pretty decent handling car, but Cadillac knew that it could be better. The stiffness of the chassis has been increased by 25 percent and there is the newest version of GM’s Magnetic Ride Control system that is faster when it comes adjusting the damping characteristics of the shocks. Three modes (Touring, Sport, and Track) can vary the stiffness of the shocks along with the behavior of the engine and steering.
When you decided that you had enough fun and it is time to go back to the daily grind, the ATS-V turns into a comfortable cruiser. With the vehicle in Touring mode, the ride is compliant with some bumps making their way inside. Road and wind noise is kept to very acceptable levels.
One item that we were disappointed not to have on our test ATS-V was blind spot monitoring. This is part of a $1,500 Safety and Security package that also adds lane keep assist, forward collision alert, rear-cross traffic alert, and more. For a vehicle that begins that begins just a hair over $62,000, you think blind spot monitor would be standard. It should.
Cadillac has been making great strides since the first-generation CTS-V and the ATS-V is the beneficiary of it. The powertrains will nail you to your seats and the handling can match or surpass the class leaders. But Cadillac is still stumbling over some simple things such as the interior materials and the infotainment system. It is an amazing driving vehicle, but it is let down by the interior.
At the end of the week, I couldn’t deny this is an impressive vehicle even with the interior issues. It was very much worth the long wait.
Cheers: Jaw-Dropping performance, Sharp handling, Looks that make it stand out from the crowd
Jeers: Carbon Fiber package isn't worth the money or worry, Interior doesn't feel like it is worth the price, CUE
Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the ATS-V, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Model: ATS-V Coupe
Engine: 3.6L SIDI DOHC Twin-Turbo V6
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 464 @ 5,850
Torque @ RPM: 445 @ 3,500
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19
Curb Weight: 3,803 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
Base Price: $62,665
As Tested Price: $79,205 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
Carbon Fiber Package - $5,000.00
Recaro Performance Seats - $2,300.00
Luxury Package - $2,100.00
8-Speed Automatic Transmission - $2,000.00
Performance Data Recorder - $1,300.00
Power Sunroof - $1,050.00
18-inch Polished Wheels - $900.00
Dark Gold Brembo Calipers - $595.00
Sueded Microfiber Steering Wheels and Shifter - $300.00