Cadillac knew that a lightweight chassis was essential if it wanted to create the kind of car that would handle and drive like a world-class sports sedan. A lightweight structure not only benefits handling, but improves acceleration and fuel economy as well. The ATS weighs in at around 3,400 pounds, which is extremely light among luxury cars. This helps it achieve an EPA estimated 33 mpg on the highway when properly equipped.
Engine choices available on the ATS sedan take advantage of its light weight to provide strong fuel economy and acceleration. Three engines are available: a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo making 272 horsepower, a 3.6L V6 producing 335 horsepower, and in the ATS-V, a twin turbocharged 3.6L V6 making 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque. The engine is strong enough to propel the ATS-V coupe to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, with a top speed of 189 mph. The standard ATS comes with a 6-speed automatic, though a 6-speed manual is available with either turbo engine. The automatic transmission option for the ATS-V is an 8-speed. All-wheel drive is optional on the standard ATS, and it is only available with the 2.0L turbo engine or the V6.
In sedan or coupe form, the ATS comes in four different trims: ATS, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Premium Performance. In each trim, sedans and coupes are comparably equipped. Both coupes and sedans come equipped with the 4-cylinder turbo, though the base stereo in the sedan is a 10-speaker Bose surround sound unit, while the coupe features a 12-speaker Bose unit. Both sedans and coupes now come standard with Cadillac's CUE infotainment system, which brings with it an 8-inch color touch screen, Sirius XM satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and voice recognition. Functioning much like an iPad, CUE vastly simplifies the interior of the car, allowing for increased functionality without much of the clutter. It also houses the optional navigation system and includes a suite of apps to support Pandora, iHeart Radio, the Weather Channel and more. Other notable standard equipment includes a leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a 6-way power adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone climate control and attractive 17-inch wheels (18-inch on the coupe).
On the sedan, the Luxury trim adds leather seating surfaces, 10-way power adjustable front seats, power mirrors, heated front seats and steering wheel, and front and rear ultrasonic parking assist. Luxury coupes also get adaptive HID headlights and performance seats.
Premium Luxury-equipped ATS models include just about everything in the Luxury package, plus the 3.6L V6. Also added are a sunroof, automatic wipers, and advanced safety features like lane keep assist, forward collision alert, blind zone alert, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The top-of-the-line Premium Performance trim also features the 3.6L V6 and adds power tilt/telescoping steering column, a limited-slip differential, run-flat summer tires, and performance suspension with driver-selected Magnetic Ride Control, which actively changes damping to affect ride and handling.
The ATS-V is equipped only one way, with a variety of luxury features found on other upper-tier ATS models. Unique to the V are Brembo high-performance brakes, high-performance sport seats, standard Magnetic Ride Control suspension, launch control, active rev matching when equipped with the 6-speed manual, a carbon fiber hood, and an available aerodynamic package.
Standard safety equipment on the ATS includes anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, OnStar crash response and front, knee and side-curtain airbags.
The 2017 Cadillac ATS Coupe disappoints a couple of friends shortly after I take delivery for a week-long evaluation. "Oh, it's not the ATS-V?" they both say. No, my test car isn't General Motors' 464-horsepower performance monster, it's a base model with a turbocharged four-cylinder and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. They are unimpressed.
At first glance, writing off the ATS Coupe, as my two comrades did, may seem easy. But take a closer look at the drivetrain and you'll see that this entry-level Caddy's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is nothing to sneeze at. With 272 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque, the ATS outmuscles same-sized turbo mills in the Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe (241 hp, 273 pound-feet), BMW 430i (248 hp, 258 pound-feet) and Audi A5 (252 hp, 273 pound-feet).
Off the line, the ATS fires forward rapidly and with no turbo lag, delivering potent thrust all the way up to its engine's 7,000-rpm redline. The deeper tone from my tester's optional performance exhaust system adds to the experience. Shift performance from the eight-speed auto transmission is brisk, but not quite as quick and buttery as the ZF units in the Audi and BMW.
The Good Cadillac's 2.0-liter turbo engine delivers big power, while also returning respectable fuel economy. Handling capabilities match or surpass its German competition. Exterior design is distinctive, while cabin build quality is high.
The Bad The old CUE system continues to handle infotainment duties in the cabin with unresponsive captive-touch controls. Navigation system is very slow to start up and calculate routes. Rougher ride quality when equipped with optional performance suspension package.
The Bottom Line Caddy's ATS Coupe delivers style and world-class performance that more people really should take notice of.
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