2016 Cadillac ATS-V | First Drive
* Styling is simply phenomenal.
* Impressive amount of grunt from a Twin-Turbocharged V6 powerplant.
* Exhaust note is loud, but not particularly pleasing.
* Traction control is a little too intrusive even in Track mode.
Over the past 112 years, Cadillac has earned a reputation for being synonymous with success, and in no means, has that been an accident. By breaking boundaries, setting new benchmarks and challenging the status quo, the American brand has constantly redeveloped itself and kept up with the times.
Slotting in below the CTS-V in the American marque’s line-up, the ATS-V is the brand’s answer to the likes of Bavaria’s M3 and Affalterbach’s C63 AMG. Following in the footsteps of its elder sibling that caught the attention of motoring aficionados back in 2004, the ATS-V is, in several ways, attempting to be the ideal American sports car.
The standard ATS is a head turner in itself; inject it with a dose of flamboyance and you arrive at the ATS-V – an aggressive, aerodynamically crafted masterpiece. Its menacing aura is a by-product of its brawny physique, taut character lines and pronounced shoulders. With mesh grille and carbon fibre embellishing the bodywork, it’s a given that you’re going to be caught in a dilemma of whether to drive it, or admire it.
Apart from the Performance Data Recorder (a standard feature on all V models) and the supremely comfortable 16-way-adjustable Recaro performance seats, there isn’t a whole lot on the inside to differentiate the ATS-V from the car that it is based on. While it is equally luxurious with a generous amount of plush leather and piano black trim, splashes of Alcantara wouldn’t have gone amiss.
While most performance inclined vehicles require their owners to make sacrifices in the comfort or practicality departments, owners of the ATS-V have to do no such thing. In addition to ventilated seats, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition and Apple CarPlay, the 2016 ATS-V welcomes ‘text-to-voice’ – a system that converts incoming text messages to speech and reads them over the audio system’s speakers.
Chucking 464 horsepower and 603 Nm of torque to the rear wheels, the ATS-V is no poseur. The 3.6 litre Twin-Turbocharged V6 directs its power through an 8-speed automatic transmission and allows for the American stunner to hit the 100 km/h mark from a standstill in just 3.9 seconds.
With the Brembo set-up borrowed from the previous generation CTS-V and the Z51 Corvette, stopping power is a handful. When pushing the car to its limits, the stiffer suspension set-up and electronic limited slip differential, together with the 25% stiffer structural set-up, really begin to shine.
While both, the Sedan and the Coupe, offer an engaging drive, the Coupe’s smaller dimensions and wider track help it feel more planted in the corners. Although the traction control system could be made a little more lenient in Track mode, and the exhaust note bettered, it’s safe to say the Americans’ are on the right path to building something phenomenal in the future.
While the Cadillac ATS-V is a fitting rival for Germany’s finest on paper, it’s a little more complicated in the real world. With 464 horsepower, the American falls well between the 431 horsepower and 503 horsepower generated by the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63S respectively.
Add prices into the equation and the ATS-V makes an even stronger case for itself. But where the ATS-V fails to deliver, is at a pure, unadulterated experience behind the wheel. Lacking the je ne sais quoi to join the Germans on the podium just yet, the Lexus RC F seems a more fitting rival after all.