Cadillac’s truest German-fighter speaks softly but carries a big stick.
– Detroit, Michigan
If I can offer the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V one piece of advice, it’s this: speak up. After a week behind the wheel of this Velocity Red coupe, the only thing I’m really left wanting is more aural stimulation, more vibrato. I don’t need a super overproduced sound that’ll wake the neighbors, and I definitely don’t want piped-in fake noise. But part of the high-power luxury/sport coupe experience is the stupid grin that’s plastered on your face when you mash the throttle and the quad pipes out back really, truly sing.
I offer this as a leading point because the ATS-V is a brilliant car in just about every other aspect. Seriously fast, sharp in the corners, and quite a handsome devil, this Caddy coupe is finally a true and worthy competitor to its German counterparts.
- With 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque on tap from a biturbocharged 3.6-liter V6, the ATS-V bests the BMW M3/M4 in terms of sheer output. But credit to Cadillac, the ATS-V feels better than its key German rival at full tilt, with far more communication through the crisp, nicely weighted steering, and a beautifully balanced chassis that’s firm and planted while cornering but compliant enough to not kill you when you’re just running to pick up groceries.
- To expand on that point, GM’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension is one of the best in the business, and it does wonders here in the ATS-V. This system makes minute suspension adjustments quicker than you can blink, meaning the car is always correctly set up for cornering, or silky smooth while cruising on the highway. Plus, those Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires offer an amazing amount of grip. It’s certainly not impossible to get the ATS-V to wiggle its butt, though, and you’ll have more fun doing it than you will in a BMW.
- This thing looks super fast while standing still. Maybe it’s the bright red paint or the $5,000 (yikes!) carbon fiber package (front splitter, hood extractor, rear diffuser, composite rocker extensions, body-color spoiler), but I love how the angular lines and wide stance of the ATS Coupe have been amped up for V duty. What a looker.
- I’m not a fan of the automatic transmission – it’s slow to change gears, and the paddle shifters don’t offer any real engagement. Until Cadillac and the rest of GM wise up to the performance benefits of proper dual-clutch transmissions, save the added $2,000 cost and just get the more fun six-speed manual. The 6MT car is a few tenths of a second slower to 60 miles per hour, but in the real world, you won’t notice.
- Most of the interior is fine – I love the $2,300 Recaro seats – but there’s a mix of great and awful materials here. The suede on the steering wheel and leather on the dash feel premium, but elsewhere in the cockpit there are hard plastics and shiny piano black accents that show every trace of dust and fingerprints. A lot of the interior just feels very Old GM. Heck, look at the gauge cluster. It’s a shame that I can get a reconfigurable, full digital display in a regular CTS, but the ATS-V gets a layout that looks two-decades old. As far as cabins go, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and even Lexus offer an experience that truly feels unique. This just feels like a standard ATS with some nice seats.
- I’d be remiss not to mention the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe, which fixes a lot of what’s wrong with the ATS-V. It’s not as raw, but has a significantly nicer interior, makes a hell of a noise, and while it’s not angular and aggressive, it’s got a superb design all its own. And before you go off about how the Mercedes is probably more expensive (official pricing isn’t available yet), note that the fully loaded ATS-V tested here is a few hundred bucks shy of $80,000.
|2016 CADILLAC ATS-V COUPE|
|ENGINE||Biturbocharged 3.6L V6|
|OUTPUT||464 Horsepower / 445 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||3.9 Seconds|
|TOP SPEED||189 MPH|
|EPA FUEL ECONOMY||16 City / 24 Highway / 19 Combined|
|CARGO VOLUME||10.4 Cubic Feet|
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com