Cadillac's amazing ATS-V has tons of power, grip


Cadillac calls its new 464-horsepower, track-ready two-door the ATS-V coupe. But forget the bland alphabet-soup nomenclature. This lusty machine is so good it could be badged "Coupe de Thrill."

Cadillac's new luxury compact is a chiseled two-plus-two muscle car with razor-sharp throttle response, a locked-down chassis and tons of grip, all good things when matched with the ATS-V's twin-turbocharged and intercooled 3.6-liter V6.

The ATS-V can romp with the likes of BMW's M and Audi's S machines, giving American performance fans reason to wave their flags. Car and Driver editors reported that quarter-mile runs were achieved in 12.6 seconds at 115 mph and zero-to-60 mph sprints took 4.2 ticks.

The ATS-V sports the first dual-turbocharging setup in Cadillac's V-Series. Runner length, particularly the with the charge coolers, have been kept short and sweet, helping performance. The V6's titanium connecting rods complement the turbos titanium alloy turbines, contributing to the powertrain's responsiveness.

With the cornering prowess on tap from the electronic limited-slip differential, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires and five-link rear suspension, ATS-V drivers will appreciate the Brembo brake system and its truck-size 14.5-inch front rotors and 13.3-inchers at the back. Want those massive brake calipers to stand out? Red or gold paint can replace the standard gray for an additional $595. The ATS-V features performance-calibrated electric power steering and General Motors' third-generation magnetic ride control.

With manual transmissions becoming an endangered species in the U.S., it's worth noting that the $62,665 ATS-V comes standard with the battle-tested Tremec 6060 six-speed, a workhorse manual gearbox used in many performance vehicles. The ATS-V's Tremec comes with active rev max, which electronically blips the throttle to match engine speed for harmonious shifting. The ATS-V's performance traction management system also enables hyperactive gear changes - you need not lift off the gas pedal when upshifting, which keeps the turbos in the boost for max power.

A quick-shifting eight-speed Hydra-Matic 8L90 automatic, a $2,000 option, offers full manual control via magnesium paddle shifters.

The ATS-V coupe shares the same 109.3-inch wheelbase of its milder two- and four-door siblings. The fenders are widened to encompass the beefier forged alloy 18-by-9-inch wheels and 255/35ZR18 rubber up front and the 18-by-9.5-inch rims and 275/35ZR18s bringing up the rear.

The ATS-V may be compact but at roughly 3,700 pounds, sans driver, it's no lightweight. A vented carbon fiber hood shaves some weight and helps channel the hot engine-compartment air over the vehicle for a bit more stability at high speed.

Our loaded loaner had the track performance package that lists at $6,195. The option includes a more aggressive front splitter that looks great but hangs so low you'll have to gingerly enter and exit driveways and slow for speed bumps. The track bundle also comes with black rocker extensions and a body-colored trunk-lid spoiler but they're non-exotic composite.

YouTube jocks will note that the track package also throws in GM's performance data recorder that captures your forays in video and data form for later documentation, analysis or entertainment. Alas, the track performance package cannot be had without adding the $1,085 up-level CUE infotainment and navigation system. In our book, the music from the quad exhaust tips and routing via smartphone navigation are more than sufficient.

The ATS-V's tasteful cabin provides an attractive mix of luxury appointments and performance tools. While the standard powered and heated seats are adjustable 18 ways, those expecting to take this hot-rod Cadillac to the track will want to consider the Recaro 16-way performance seat option ($2,300), with their more aggressive bolsters to keep the driver and front passenger planted during high-speed maneuvers. The back seats, on the other hand, are strictly for small occupants and/or short-term use by humans. But the area provides a happy home for laptop cases and racing helmet bags.

While the nimbleness and acceleration of the ATS-V are downright intoxicating, we're just as impressed with the way the compact Cadillac coddles driver and front passenger. The ride was confidently comfortable. We're big fans of the instrument panel, which can be customized, allowing the driver to choose which virtual gauge to display and where it's positioned. As you should expect in a $65,000 ride, the interior trim has splashes of real carbon fiber and standard amenities include front and rear park assist, rear camera, magnetic ride control and active noise cancellation.

The ATS-V is also ready to navigate the information highway, with an early integration of Apple Car Play, which can bring smartphone applications such as navigation, hands-free text messaging, entertainment and news directly into the car via the infotainment system's display. Android Auto compatibility will be added.

  • TYPE: Compact performance luxury coupe
  • BASE PRICE: $62,665
  • MAJOR OPTIONS: Track performance package, $6,195; Recaro seats, $2,300; 8-speed automatic; Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment, $1,085
  • DRIVETRAIN: 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V6; 8-speed auto, RWD
  • HORSEPOWER AND TORQUE: 464 hp at 5,850 rpm; 445 lb.-ft. at 3,500 rpm
  • FUEL: gas, 91 octane; 16-gallon tank
  • EPA ESTIMATED MPG: 16 city / 24 highway
  • CURB WEIGHT: 3,700 lbs (estimated)

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