Thursday, July 28, 2016


Before getting into a look at the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V coupe, I offer a confession: Growing up, I was not a big fan of Cadillac.

Oh, I respected the brand, and everybody in my small town neighborhood recognized it as the leading luxury carmaker in the U.S. at the time, but we were looking for more in the way of a fun driving experience than the big land yachts with the huge tailfins offered. Cadillac was luxury, not performance. (Not that we could have afforded a Cadillac in the first place, you understand.)

But that was Cadillac yesterday, not Cadillac today.

Today you’ll find Cadillac models that not only deliver when it comes to the ultimate in creature comforts but cars that — finally — rival their counterparts from Europe and Japan when it comes to get-up-and-go.

The company started getting serious about that a little over a decade ago when it introduced the first of its “V” series performance-tuned models, the CTS-V, a V-8 powered brute built to appeal to a younger audience while not turning off the traditional Cadillac shopper. It was made available in sedan, coupe, and wagon form, though the coupe and wagon have since been dropped.

The latest entrant in the “V” series family is the ATS-V. Cadillac introduced the ATS sedan on which it is based for 2013 as a competitor to the venerable BMW 3-Series. The coupe version followed a couple of years later, and in 2015 Caddy upped the ante with the ATS-V sedan.

This year, it’s the ATS-V coupe that has been added to the portfolio.

Unlike the CTS-V, the ATS-V doesn’t have the massive V8 engine under the hood, but instead gets its power from the company’s first twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V6. With 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque going to the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, punch is certainly not lacking. The zero-to-60 mph clocking, according to the company, is 3.8 seconds, and the top speed 189 mph.

In case you’re wondering (or even if you’re not), that’s just .1 second off the zero-to-60 time for the V8-powered CTS-V and only 11 mph off the CTS-V’s max speed of 200 mph.

So when it comes to performance, yeah, you won’t find anything much better. 

Same things goes with luxury. Cadillac apparently raided a Prada factory because leather and suede is everywhere throughout the interior. The only sound that seems to come through the cabin is from the ear-pleasing, pulsating bass beat from the quad dual exhausts.

My only complaints are with with CUE system for operation of infotainment functions and the usual issue with a coupe of getting into a backseat that doesn’t have a lot of room. The trunk also is on the small side — only 10.4 cubic feet, which is tight even for a coupe.

What I liked about the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe: The styling is really eye-catching and features some unique elements, like a lightweight carbon fiber hood with air vents and larger grille openings to feed more air into the twin turbos. Fenders are wider to accommodate the 18-inch wheels (9-inch wide on the front, 9.5 on the rear). Its performance lives up to its athletic stance. It is especially striking with the Velocity Red exterior (unofficially dubbed “arrest me” red) that matches the finish of Cadillac racing team’s No. 3 ATS V.R Coupe race car in the Perilli World Challenge competition.

What I didn’t like about the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V coupe: Cadillac has done some fine-tuning on the CUE system that operates infotainment functions such as audio, navigation, etc., but other than a voice-operated feature that responds well to oral commands, it’s still a pain to operate. It features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 4GLTE Wi-Fi is available.

Would I buy the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V coupe: If I wasn’t concerned about budget, sure. But the base MSRP for the coupe is $62,665, and options like a carbon fiber package (hood extractor, front splitter, rear diffuser) and black non-carbon rocker extensions and a body-color rear spoiler, Recaro performance seats, a luxury package (HID headlamps, sport alloy pedals, navigation, and Bose sound), the automatic transmission, and more, ran the total bill for our test model up to nearly $80,000 ($79,205 to be exact). Considering the standard ATS coupe starts at around half that and the luxury in the $50,000 range, that’s quite a lot to pay to get from zero-to-60 mph a second-and-a-half or so quicker.

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