The adage reigns true in this case; “when you turn your car on, does it return the favour?”
It has been said that every American who ever had a dream, dreamt of driving a Cadillac. Often, these dreams wait until the kids have been put in college, the house has been paid off, and the pension starts to kick in. Thus, Cadillacs have historically become synonymous with the geriatric. Over the past three-some-odd years, Cadillac has been resilient and livened up the party. The redesigned CTS and ATS are prime examples of this move forward. The ATS was introduced a couple of years ago as a new competitor to the BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. As I picked up the keys to a 2015 Cadillac ATS 2.0T, I began to ponder just how much better it would be than the Cadillacs of the past.
Painted in a stunning Dark Adriatic Blue Metallic, the 2015 ATS 2.0T tester for the week was a sure looker. The vertical LED signature lighting, the illuminated door handles, and the sexy 18” wheels gave this Caddy incredible curb appeal. In fact, I found myself constantly looking back at the ATS at night just in admiration of its sheer beauty. The Cadillac’s ability to shine bright would be far too polarizing for the older crowd, but for the younger generation, the ATS is like the perfect mousetrap. All of the bells and whistles have been implemented into this new sport sedan. For 2015, the new Cadillac logo as well as the updated front fascia have spread from the coupe to the sedan model.
The elephant in the room is Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system. I did find myself having less frustration with this unit than in previous tests of Cadillacs. Is it truly getting better, or was I just getting used to it? Nevertheless, the Bluetooth system in the Caddy is among the fastest to pair my phone. Within a few seconds of pairing, I was able to bump out Macklemore’s White Walls through the excellent Bose seven-speaker audio system with Centerpoint surround sound feature. Further, when your phone is running low on charge, simply touch the lower aluminum bezel of the CUE system and the centre console will lift up, revealing a ‘secret’ compartment with a USB connector and a pad that will allow an NFC-capable phone to wirelessly charge the device.
Benefits to the ATS don’t stop at the modern styling and fresh interior; the car is fantastic to drive. Consumers will note that although the concept of a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder Cadillac may seem sacrilegious, it is surprisingly smooth and powerful. Compared to the available 3.6 litre V6, the 2.0T is only 0.1 second slower in a sprint from 0-100 km/hr. While it is not as refined as the 2.0T found in Audi applications, this 4-cylinder mill still pumps out a healthy 272 horsepower, and 295 lb-ft. of torque. Indeed, the ATS is a German rival-killer. The chassis was extremely solid, also carrying the almost near perfect 50/50 weight distribution (remember when BMW used to boast about that?).
My tester came equipped with the six-speed GM 6L45 Hydra-Matic automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters that are easily the best feeling paddle shifters I have used. Although this transmission was fantastic, shifted swiftly and smoothly, it’s down two gears compared to its competitors. However, the 2016 ATS is rumoured to have the new 8-speed 8L45 GM sourced automatic. Like any true gearhead however, I would have rather row my own gears with the six-speed manual transmission, also available on this model at no cost.
Adding to the fun with this sporty Cadillac was the added limited-slip rear differential. I felt this made a significant difference in handling during some cornering in unfavourable weather conditions. Once more, when it came to braking, the Brembo 6-piston front calipers brought the ATS to a halt quickly with excellent feel and response. My only wish was that the rear carried the same branding to complete the overall performance package.
To some, the Cadillac ATS represents more than just a means to show off. While you will notice that it does turn heads and snap some necks, Cadillac strives to keep things elegant and simplistic. One of my favourite technological aspects from this ATS was the heads-up-display (HUD) affixed to this vehicle. Not only was it clear as day, but I loved the unit’s simplicity and accuracy. There is absolutely no lag between the digits shown on the gauge cluster and those shown on the HUD option. Additionally, the digital tachometer on the HUD gave this ATS another sporty touch.
Interior build quality and comfort wise, I had no complaints. The contrasted Morello Red/Jet Black interior with carbon fiber trim was excellent to sit in. The attention to detail in this interior was so good that I had a hard time finding any kind of flaw with it. Everything was either covered in leather, soft touch plastic, alcantara, or carbon fibre. If looked at closely, the carbon fibre actually contains little red fibres to properly complement the rest.
Over my test week, I averaged around 10.3L/100km on 91-octane premium fuel. I found that spirited acceleration in sport mode was the obvious killer to my fuel mileage, but thankfully cruising along on the highway was my ultimate saving grace and the advantages of having the smaller but still extremely potent 2.0 litre engine also assisted in keeping the fuel numbers low. I would predict a loss of 1-2L/100km with the optional all-wheel-drive and another 1-2L/100km with the 3.6L motor.
For the Premium Collection ATS 2.0T, standard vehicle pricing starts at $49,700 and after options including the 1SJ package, the Driver Assist package ($3,555), the Morello Red interior ($1,425), the power sunroof ($1,395), and the Dark Adriatic Blue Metallic paint colour ($520.00) the vehicle price balloons to almost $60,000. While this is asking a lot for a rear-wheel-drive sports sedan with a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine. I feel that you get a decent amount of value for your dollar. Additionally, in the long run if dependability studies are accurate, the Cadillac ATS will likely give you less problems and thus more time spent together when weighed against German competitors. The adage reigns true in this case; “when you turn your car on, does it return the favour?”