The enthusiast-oriented model of a newcomer The 2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T I spent a gorgeous spring week with is the model that enthusiasts everywhere have truly been dying to drive.
When I drove the Cadillac ATS with the 3.6L engine this past winter, I was absolutely floored. I had no idea that a company so well-known for its huge land yachts and tailfins was capable of producing a legitimately competitive sport sedan. The BMW 3-series has long since been established as a leader in this segment; known for its near-perfect driving dynamics and for being the “ultimate driving machine”. However, the ATS I drove was the top-level 3.6 Premium with the all-wheel-drive and an automatic. The 2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T I spent a gorgeous spring week with is the model that enthusiasts everywhere have truly been dying to drive.
My ATS was a rear-wheel-drive model, powered by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. This little four-pot puts out 272-horsepower and is coupled to a six-speed manual transmission. Yup, a rear-drive Caddy with a turbo-4 and a stick. What has this world come to? Cars like the Buick Verano won’t attract a more youthful customer base; this ATS definitely will. Even though it’s a four-cylinder, this puppy goes like a bat out of hell, and sounds great doing it. The 6-speed is a little notchy, but overall shifts pretty smoothly. Clutch travel is just right too, and surprisingly, I averaged 9.3L/100km on premium fuel with a relatively heavy right-foot.
Unfortunately, my ATS 2.0T tester was a prime example of some of my fellow auto writers at other publications disregarding any form of respect towards a manufacturer vehicle. The poor thing had just over 2,000km on it, and it was moaning and groaning through no fault of its own or of GM’s. Out of pity for the vehicle, I decided not to put it through much rigorous testing. The chassis of this new Caddy is absolutely outstanding. The sports sedan class isn’t an easy one to compete in; going up against players like the Audi A/S4 and the BMW 3-series is akin to a rookie playing a champion. The ATS is just so balanced, it’s hard not to fall in love with the way it drives.
My car was finished in Black Diamond Tricoat, which is a $1,295 option. Typically I scoff at the thought of paying more for a premium paint job, but I’ll have to say that this thing was gorgeous. The paint had a beautiful diamond flake in it that made it shimmer in the day and glisten at night. The Morello Red interior was the right color too. The carbon fiber accents on the doors and dashboard had little red flakes in it that added the right touch to make this car absolutely perfect. In the aesthetics department, the Cadillac ATS trumps all its competitors. Little gimmicks such as the light-up door handles add a nice touch to an already fantastic-looking sedan.
All was not great however; the little Cadillac did have a pretty significant flaw. The CUE multimedia system is absolutely atrocious to use. It may very well be packed with features and the menu seems to be as simplistic to use as an iPad, but it’s the least-responsive system I’ve used in a long time. The touch-sensitive “buttons” don’t really do much, and the touch screen is rather counter-intuitive. I found it pretty simple to browse through iPod playlists and satellite radio presets through the customizable screens in the instrument cluster. Those on the other hand, are a pleasant treat to use. The navigation system on my particular car decided to conk out on a shopping trip over the US border. With my luck, I was in unfamiliar territory when the GPS decided to lose all signal and I had to rely on my iPhone to get me back on track.
The driving position in the ATS is literally bang-on for what I would want. Adjustability is exactly how I like it, the seats are great, and everything is perfectly accessible from the driver’s seat. There’s a neat heads-up display that projects your current speed and a few customizable features onto the windshield of the car right in front of the driver. It’s unobtrusive enough to not be a distraction; definitely a neat touch. The front legroom is a bit tight when there are passengers in the rear; however with just my father and I in the car (both six-footers), we were very comfortable. Rear legroom is virtually non-existent if you’re thinking of buying an ATS for long family trips, but for short jaunts around town it’s definitely sufficient.
Bottom line: I like the car. The 2013 Cadillac ATS is a huge step forward for General Motors, and I predict will go a long way in reducing the average age of Cadillac buyers. I’m not sure how I feel about long-term reliability though; with my test car feeling so worn out when it’s barely been broken in (albeit a little too aggressively). The manual is definitely the transmission to opt for, though the quick-shifting paddle-sporting automatic isn’t a bad choice by any means. With an as-tested price on this model of just under $50,000, I can’t help but at least drop honourable mention towards the fact that the BMW 328i Sport Line is available for essentially the same money…
2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Gallery