ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: The coupe version of the ATS makes the lineup better suited to combat the BMW 3-series/4-series, which is the plan Cadillac had in mind all along. When I first saw the 2015 ATS coupe at a preview event at the beginning of this year before the Detroit auto show, I was a little underwhelmed by it. Since then, I’ve seen some out in the wild under natural light, and it still doesn’t quite do it for me. I think it comes down to the oversized grille in front that overpowers everything.
Not that it’s a bad-looking car. It’s clear that Caddy put a lot of effort and money into making the ATS coupe right with dedicated roof, doors, rear fenders and trunk lid. The front bumper and front fenders are coupe-specific, too, to accommodate the wider track on the two-door compared to the sedan. The more defined lines in the rear hark back to the CTS coupe, which is still a looker today so that’s good.
But the ATS coupe looks a little soft to me. It’s certainly clean, but I want a meaner and more emotional look to my performance coupes. Imagine what some more aggressive body fixing like a front fascia with larger air dams and slimmed down grille, sportier side treatments and bigger but still tasteful rear lip spoiler would look like. And it just so happens the ATS-V sedan and coupe were revealed last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which is exactly what I had in mind. If you want a clean and slightly understated luxury coupe, though, then the base models of the ATS coupe certainly fit the bill.
How does our particular 2015 Cadillac ATS 3.6L Performance coupe test car drive? Really well, actually. The platform is solid, which isn’t a surprise from previous drives of ATS sedan models. One big thing going in the Caddy’s favor over competing small luxury sport coupes is that it’s the lightweight in the class. While our test car weighs in at 3,418 pounds, the comparable BMW, which would be the automatic-equipped 435i coupe, tips the scales at 3,610 pounds for a 192-pound weight difference. That’s substantial.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to decode and optimize all of the 2015 BMW M4 coupe’s driving modes and adjustable bits because we have an M3 for the ...
It reacts well when you push it with crisp and quick turn in, changes direction swiftly and tracks right through corners confidently with minimal lean. Steering is communicative with a weighty feel from the ZF system, and the brake performance is stout with the front Brembo calipers.
And that’s all on runflat all-season Continental tires! Cadillac’s adoption of runflat tires comes at a time where development has come along with ride quality up and road noise down substantially from earlier runflats. The Continentals on this ATS coupe are rather quiet with little tire noise and the ride comfort is certainly acceptable. The performance-car slappy in me wants to drive one of these with more aggressive summer rubber, though. It certainly will make things a little more fun from behind the wheel.
The direct-inject V6 is potent with 321 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. That’s a good amount of juice that hustles the ATS coupe out of corners well. But to get back to our comparison with the 435i, the Caddy’s V6 is a coarse-sounding engine in contrast to the BMW’s 3.0-liter turbocharged I6 that’s a really slick unit The Caddy’s V6 does trump the Bimmer’s engine in the horsepower department by 21 ponies, but loses when in the torque column (275 lb-ft versus 300 lb-ft). What may even be a bigger deal is that the BMW’s peak torque band is crazy wide from 1,200 to 5,000 rpm, which is real nice and probably required because it is carrying a few extra pounds of curb weight.
Since we’re talking about automatics, the ATS has a six-speed and the 435i gets an eight-speed. Shift performance in Cadillac is pretty good, but the ZF-unit in the BMW is better, in my opinion, with slicker shifts and snappier response to manual shift commands.
For fuel economy sticklers, the smaller displacement engine and two extra gears in the BMW help it win the efficiency fight according to the EPA ratings with 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The Cadillac gets 18 city and 28 highway.
Away from the numbers, this ATS coupe packs plenty of features that may entice luxury two-door shoppers. Inside there’s a 12-speaker Bose surround sound system, comfortable front bucket seats and aluminum sport pedals to dress things up some. The touch sense controls for the radio and climate still aren’t my favorite, but I’m getting used to them. There are some safety technologies, too, like forward collision alert (that only freaked out on me twice over the weekend when I wasn’t coming up to traffic quickly at all), lane departure warning, lane keep assist and automatic high-beams. On the outside, I do like the illuminated door handles.
Overall, this is a solid small luxury sports coupe. It feels light on its feet and eager on road, which is something I really like about new crop of Cadillacs. Would I take it over a 435i? That’s a really tough question as they are so closely matched up. It’s so close on my score sheet that I’m going to have to mull it over some more.
The 2015 Cadillac ATS 3.6L Performance Coupe features a very solid platform.PHOTO BY JONATHAN WONG
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Impressive. I like the ATS sedan and I like this nifty coupe, too, which is Cadillac’s first shot at a small coupe. It’s the right size, looks good inside and out, has nice proportions and drives as well as the sedan -- a good thing.
Personally, I prefer the 2.0-liter turbo four, but the outstanding ATS chassis is here. It’s stiff, has the right suspension damping, and features a light-on-its-feet feeling I remember from the sedan. It is fun to throw around and reacts quickly to steering and throttle inputs. The ATS is one of the more dialed-in-feeling cars on the market.
I’d like the V6 to be a bit smoother, but the power is there for sure. I do think it’s quieter than in some other GM applications -- the Cadillac probably has more sound deadening.
The interior looks good as does the quality therein. I thought the CUE system worked well here. Might be my imagination, but I found myself being able to control the radio and heat/vent etc. easily this time around. Maybe it’s been improved? Or maybe I’m just getting the hang of it.
And now we have the recently announced ATS-V coming. I can’t wait to saddle up in one of those.
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