It seems only right that the folks at Cadillac would design a coupe version of their popular ATS sedan. The public and media types like us were saying this was a must. The outcry became even more insistent following test drives of the ATS sedan. After all, the Cadillac CTS Coupe, particularly in its V dressing, became an outstanding offering both on the racetrack and off. So, with the ATS sedan attracting more and more younger buyers into the Cadillac fold, the move to designing a coupe was as they say; a no brainer.
We can now say, following a day of driving the ATS Coupe through the hills and valleys of Connecticut, that the Cadillac folks made the right move and did it right. With the two engine choices and the wide range of features offered by this coupe it will attract a whole lot of folks. This is especially true if they are remotely interested in a sporty luxurious coupe that has the panache and the mettle to make driving exciting and lavish.
One of the biggest indicators that the Cadillac folks are serious about attracting young enthusiasts is the mere fact that they have made available a six speed manual transmission. In this day it seems incongruous for a luxury car company to offer a manual trans. But, in a showing that they are serious about Cadillac competing with the best European auto companies a 6-speed manual was a must. Even though it will no doubt account for less than one percent of sales, it’s an attitude and Cadillac is bent on establishing that attitude.
The new ATS may be based on the sedan but the comparison ends there. This coupe is its own automobile. The roof sits 1-inch lower than the sedan with a steeper raked windscreen and has what may seem to have a wider track than the numbers indicate. The view of the rear of the ATS Coupe made us think they miss-stated the increased track, 10mm in front and 20mm. You get the sense that these numbers certainly must be much larger than reported. The car sits low and has the muscular shoulders making a strong presence on the road.
This athletic stance is accentuated in front by the large horizontal grille and contoured hood and aggressive bumper and air dam anchored by the strong Cadillac lighting. No matter if this car is approaching or departing it has the presentation that makes a strong impression.
Two brawny power plants are offered, both of which are impressive for different reasons. The base ATS is anything but base, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a turbo that spools up quite quickly and you get the full response of the increased torque. With 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque the 2.0-liter will impress more than a hand full of drivers.
Moving up to the V-6 engine gets you into horsepower numbers of 321 while giving up a little in the torque
department at 275 lb-ft. The power curve is smoothly linear as you tip into the throttle and there is no want for more power. Well, as car guys and gals there is always a want for more power. Always!
The automatic transmission has good close ratios to make you know you have the capability to handily merge into traffic or have fun on the twisties of your favorite country road. Manual mode complete with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters (a must for all automatic transmissions these days) give the choice of gear selection back to the driver where it belongs.
Thankfully the suspension system has the right stuff to allow the car to dance through those aforementioned twisties. Initial suspension is a conventional strut in front with multi-link in the rear which was quite impressive in all aspects of my drive, comfortable when needed and taut when pushed hard. Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control variable suspension is an option which raises the level of capabilities in both handling and ride comfort. Touch the switch on the center console and you toggle from touring levels to sport suspension that is noticeably stiffer in the corners. Of course, the nearly perfect 50/50 front to rear weight distribution helps the handling substantially.
After driving each with different options we must admit we are more than happy to say we were impressed by the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Cadillac engineers would no doubt hope that we would say the V-6 is the smoothest running engine, which it is quite smooth, but the minor differences we saw in the 2.0-liter engine are negligible. The move toward smaller engines with boosted power has created some fantastic power plants and this Cadillac ATS has two that have risen to the top of the hill.