The ATS sedan is dead, long live the ATS coupe.……..well not for long because the ATS and CTS will continue for the 2019 model before leaving us and that will be a sad day. No need to fret, however, Cadillac has plans and a new CT5 sedan is in the works to replace both the compact ATS and mid-size CTS, which we are sure will have V variants even better than the current high performance offerings. Cadillac’s sedan lineup will eventually consist of three sedans, a compact sedan CT4, a CT5 that’s a tweener between compact and mid-size, and the full-size CT6 as the brand’s flagship sedan. But this isn’t all, Cadillac has been busy and an XT6 SUV is most likely scheduled for a debut next January at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show with an arrival as a 2020 model along with the rest.
Knowing that it could be a while before the performance versions arrive we booked a week with one of our all time favorites, the Cadillac ATS V Coupe. My 2019 Cadillac ATS V Coupe tester arrived wearing satin steel metallic paint and a jet black interior and the now standard Carbon Fiber Package which was $5,000 but is now included and bumps the price up by $4,000. For that you get a revised front splitter and carbon fiber trim for the hood vent and rear diffuser and rear spoiler grows 1.18 inches taller and matches the body color. The car looks sensational, knife sharp and ready for some testing.
As I’ve said before the twin turbo V6 is a masterpiece, it pumps out 464-hp and 445 lb-ft at a heady 3,500 rpm, which seems high but isn’t because it creates one of the most linear turbocharged engines I have ever driven. So instead of a huge rush of torque low down, this engine behaves like a large normally aspirated V8. It’s simply tremendous and it loves to rev. Mated to a six speed transmission our ATS-V coupe hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds after a few attempts. We gave up trying to launch faster because the true joy of this car is once you are on the move. True the manual is a tad notchy getting it into 1st but that’s all part of the charm.
What makes this car great?
In the real world the ATS-V is a remarkable car and I’m not fawning to Cadillac here, it’s simply world class. True it has some faults but I’ll get into that later.
I took it out to the mountains East of San Diego of course, in search of the twisty bits. It didn’t take long for me to be completely absorbed in the car. Firstly the steering, it’s stand out good, has real feel and turn in is instantaneous…. point it in the direction you want to go and it goes…telepathic. It’s perfectly weighted too, heavier than the Germans typically offer, but that makes you have to drive this car, it captures the senses. The electronics simply don’t interfere making for a much better driving experience. There’s more than enough power on tap, which on some cars is not always true but this has exactly the right amount for a rear wheel drive car. No embarrassing wheel spin for me thanks in part, to the Michelin Pilot Super Sports all round.
Clutches are all different and this one took a little careful modulation but the stick is fairly precise once you get past 1st and I didn’t miss any changes during the week, that I can remember or stall it. My tester had steering wheel-mounted paddles that initiate the ATS-V’s active rev-match feature if you are unable to do heel-toe downshifts. It makes it much easier and the engine makes a pretty good noise doing so.
I spent all week in Sport mode thereby making full use of the tremendous aluminum Brembo brakes and the excellent Magnetic Ride Control, which controls the body so very well. Turn off the traction control and you can slide the rear but it’s very easy to control, leave it on and any slip is gently tidied up and the rear wheels brought back in line. Passing when dotted lines present the opportunity is easy, drop a gear and the ATS-V surges past slower traffic. It is simply a joy to drive. The only thing that could and should be better is it needs to make a better noise, Mercedes and BMW have got the Caddy beat in this respect.
Settling into the ATS-V I have to mention the seats first, ours were the optional Recaro sport seats, that came with the Carbon Black package. They are super comfortable, adjust in more ways than you can imagine and my favorite part, the side bolsters adjust to lock you in place.
Rear seat passengers also have comfortable, supportive seats but legroom and headroom is limited in the Coupe and you have to vault over the seat belt to get in. Materials quality is good, but there seems to be a mish-mash of different quality with Alcantara thrown in here and there with budget plastics. The only other gripe is a larger coffee cup will get in the way of your gear shifting ……..so buy a tall to avoid this or just don’t drink and drive. There’s no need for caffeine, this car will get your heart racing.
The Cadillac’s updated CUE infotainment system is pretty good and my usual test is how quickly I can set up Bluetooth. In this case, despite using unfamiliar controls it took less than 60 seconds . It doesn’t, however, have physical buttons so the controls did prove tricky to operate at first. I also had to grab the Cadillac screen wipe from the glove box as I was constantly aware of my finger prints all over the screen, but this is more my problem than the car’s.
It was extra sad to see the this ATS-V leave me at the end of the week, knowing it was probably my last drive in one. It was well worth the extra fuel cost, I really didn’t mind having to fill it 3 times in the week I had it, and averaging 14.5 mpg. It’s such a good car it’s hard to put it into words, it’s a weapons grade track machine perfectly honed for the road wrapped up in a handsome chiseled coupe with impeccable handling and the best steering in any sports coupe/sedan I have driven. The best part is you have to drive this car, take it by the scruff of the neck and it rewards you with automotive nirvana. Yes the cabin does need some attention, but Cadillac has gotten the hard part right, the engine, chassis, suspension, it’s all so well put together you can overlook these small interior flaws. If this car is so good I can’t imagine how good the replacement will be come 2020 and I for one am salivating at how that one will drive……..where’s my time machine?
BASE PRICE: – $67,795
PRICE AS TESTED: – $78,775
VEHICLE TYPE: – Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
ENGINE TYPE: – 3.6 liter twin-turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6
POWER: – 464 hp @ 5,850 rpm
TORQUE: – 445 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: – 6-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: – 3,760 lb
Zero to 60 mph: – 4.2 sec (3.9 sec automatic)
EPA city/highway/combined: – 16/23/19 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: – 14.5 mpg
PROS: – Razor sharp steering, great handling, superb in the twisties
CONS: – Interior not quite up to German levels