2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 2.0T Review
A refreshing competitor to staid German offerings.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: January 9th, 2015
In a world where the German Big Three (BMW, Mercedes, Audi) each have approximately 55 variants of car on sale at any given time, we knew it was only a matter of time before the American Big Three (or, one of 'em, at least) mounted a counteroffensive. You'd have to be crazy to think that Cadillac wouldn't come out with a competitor to the BMW 4-Series and Audi A5 coupes (thankfully, GM knows better than to start creating American X4s and the like). Here, a tried-and-true formula - the small, rear-drive entry-lux coupe - receives a dose of life that its German counterparts have been lacking of late, and the result is a great car that really brings the fight right to their doorsteps.
The interior of the ATS Coupe imbues the driver with a feeling of character that the Germans currently don't have. Take a look at the inside of a 4-Series, and you'll see an interior design that still retains shapes from many moons ago. While there is equity in familiarity, it can do a disservice to the buyers who want a proper 21st-century experience. The ATS Coupe, on the other hand, looks like it was designed just last week - the dashboard's angular surfaces lead to a layering effect that both looks and feels premium. Yeah, there are still smatterings of hard plastic about the cabin, but the Germans are no better in this regard.
We've always liked Cadillac's center-stack design, which goes completely black when the car is off. Pressing the Start/Stop button brings the whole thing to life, like you've walked into a living creature that's acknowledging your presence.
The ATS Coupe's interior also lacks the CTS's motorized cup holder cover, which is good. Not only is it slow and annoying, it seems like it would be a pain in the ass to repair if (or, more likely, when) it fails.
The ATS Coupe looks sharp, there's no two ways about it. Like the new CTS, the ATS Coupe doesn't stand out in a look-at-me-all-the-time way; instead, it has more of a subdued countenance, with a few sharp angles in there to keep the eyes busy. It's a bit more fetching than the last-generation CTS Coupe, which erred on the quirky side. If you're looking for something with a bit more visual oomph, the wider, carbon-fiber-laden ATS-V should be arriving later this year. However, that'll send your window sticker more than one whole tax bracket skyward.
On the Road
No two bones about it, the ATS Coupe is a sporty little car. While owners might feel inclined to spring for the 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated V-6, the 2.0-liter turbo four does a fantastic job of keeping things fun without requiring ten percent of your income in gas money. The I-4 is down about 50 horsepower over the V-6 (272 versus 321), but the I-4 offers more torque (295 lb-ft versus 275), and when you're not venturing into extralegal speeds, the torque is what counts.
Another benefit to the 2.0 engine is its weight balance; with the four-pot under the hood, the ATS Coupe achieves a nearly 50/50 weight distribution across the axles, which gives the car a very balanced feeling that is recognizable once you start taking turns a little quicker. The car remains delightfully neutral, with oversteer coming only when you really want it to. While the ride can get a little stiff on occasion (with or without the optional Magnetic Ride Control), we found it just as comfortable as the A5 and the 4-Series.
If you want to err on the side of efficiency, you can put the car in Touring mode, and the transmission and throttle mapping will grow slightly lazy, focusing more on comfort than performance. We kept the ATS in Sport mode most of the time; it doesn't make things too crazy, and we found that Sport mode maintained the throttle response we were looking for out of the I-4. The V-6 model may be a different story, but we haven't driven that one yet.
Cadillac has finally received the memo that its cars must drive as nicely as they look, and it's one memo the company really took to heart with its MY2015 offerings.
Of course, not everything about the car is that nice. Yes, we're talking about CUE, Cadillac's infotainment system. While it has been improved in the last year, it's still pokey and its voice recognition isn't exactly great unless you're sitting in absolute silence. And when it comes to comparing infotainment against the Germans, it's not going to win any awards.
Yet, the ATS Coupe does many things well that the Germans do not; namely, Cadillac is delivering a premium product that truly feels the part for less money than the competition. It won't break any necks, but having fun without drawing attention isn't a bad thing (unless your revenue comes from speeding tickets).
Specs & Price
Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Power Output: 272 horsepower / 295 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 21 city / 30 highway
Base Price: $37,995
As Tested: $48,585 (incl. $995 destination)
Luxury Trim: HID headlamps with adaptive lighting, CUE infotainment, wireless phone charging, leather seats, 12-way adjustable power front seats, front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming rearview mirror
Performance Trim: Luxury Trim, plus rain-sensing wipers, forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning, automatic high-beam control, Bose 12-speaker premium audio, aluminum pedals, illuminating exterior door handles
Premium Trim: Performance Trim, plus head-up display, navigation, 110-volt power outlet, power tilt and telescope steering column, Magnetic Ride Control suspension, increased engine-cooling capacity, summer tires
Driver Awareness Package (only available with Luxury trim): Safety alert seat, forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, automatic high-beams, rain-sensing wipers
Driver Assist Package (only available with Performance/Premium trims): Full-speed adaptive cruise control, automatic collision prep, automatic safety-belt tightening, electronic parking brake, front and rear automatic braking, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, head-up display
Individual Options: All-wheel drive, Cadillac CUE with premium surround-sound audio, power sunroof, engine block heater, black chrome rear trim, CD optical drive, microfiber suede shifter
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Cadillac ATS, click here: 2015 Cadillac ATS.