THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Standout styling and true sports coupe ride and handling.
- What’s Worst: The CUE (Cadillac User Experience) with navigation is optional at $1,105 is somewhat difficult to use. Who needs a navi when you’ve got On Star?
- What’s Interesting: Standard front Brembo brakes have a special coating for faster stopping.
When the Cadillac ATS Coupe debuted more than a year ago, the stated objective was to better its German sports competitors at all levels.
The game plan is centred on Cadillac’s edgy styling, world-class ride and handling and technology.
For example, the new ATS Coupe is the first and only car in its class with full 4G LTE connectivity through the GM’s OnStar system.
It means the ATS Coupe is its own mobile hotspot with coverage in most of Canada. It also connects up to seven mobile devices.
Where the ATS Coupe excels is on interior design and choice of materials.
There are no phony trim pieces here. If it’s wood, it’s wood. The aluminum is the real thing and the same goes for the carbon fibre.
The primary engine is a 2.0-litre direct injection DOHC four-cylinder with a twin scroll turbo producing 272 hp and 295 lb/ft of torque and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Optional is GM‘s ubiquitous DOHC direct injection 3.6-litre V6 with 321 hp and 275 lb/ft of torque with six-speed automatic.
Tested here is the 2.0-litre with optional electronic on demand all-wheel-drive.
Fuel numbers for the 2.0-litre are 10.8/7.8/9.4L/100 km city/highway/combined on premium fuel.
Euro-style ride and handling starts with the ATS’s platform that is 42 per cent stiffer than the current mid-size Cadillac CTS. But in addition to spot welds, the body panels are glued on, which is akin to a continuous weld.
Up at the front, the MacPherson strut suspension is the latest double pivot design that is very compliant, but also increases tire contact with the road throughout suspension travel.
The ATS Coupe offers a rear five-link independent suspension setup and is only the third Cadillac to do so after the CTS and ATS Sedans.
Brakes are discs at all four corners with Brembo-sourced units at the front with fixed calipers, a first for any Cadillac.
Using a patented rotor coating, the Brembos have four pistons and really haul the car down from speed, but with very positive modulation.
Adding to all this is the available performance suspension system that starts with GM Magnetic Ride Control that “reads” the road 1,000 times per second.
It is the most reactive suspension system in the world and is so good that Ferrari uses it.
Getting in through the quite large doors reveals a wonderful mix of quality materials, the front seats being as good in supporting the driver as they look.
Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system has Siri Eyes Free voice recognition for iPhone products, with text message alerts and wireless charging.
The downside of CUE is using a finger to prod or swipe to activate things such as temperature and audio volume. I found I had to take my eyes off the road to touch the right spot.
Driver/passenger safety features include lane keeping and lane change alerts and automatic seat belt tightening if a collision is imminent.
The turbo four-cylinder has more than enough power, but is also smooth to the point you have to keep your eyes on the speedo to stay below the limit.
I drove most of the time in Sport Mode with the engine, transmission, and drive being very responsive and the stopping power of the Brembos impressive.
Steering inputs result in the ATS going exactly where you want — just as the very best of the Germans.
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Another thing is the quality of the paint. The Red Obsession Tintcoat was a pricey $1,145 option but, man, did it look good.
Which leads us to price with the AWD Coupe starting at $51,135. With $7,400 in options, it topped out at $60,675 including a $1,950 shipping fee.
That may sound like a lot, but compared to similarly equipped European sports coupes, it is very competitive and I think the ATS is the best looking.
After years in the doldrums, Cadillac is very much on the charge with the popular CTS, the new CT6 premium luxury sedan and upcoming XT5 premium crossover.
The brand is now solidly focused on elevating its place as a world-class luxury manufacturer and the 2016 ATS Coupe is taking Cadillac well on the road to that destination.
2016 Cadillac ATS Coupe AWD
BODY STYLE: Compact entry-level luxury coupe
DRIVE METHOD: All-wheel-drive; eight-speed automatic transmission
ENGINE: 2.0-litre direct injection turbo inline four-cylinder (272 hp, 295 lb/ft
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) 2.0-litre, 10.8/7.8/9.4L/100 km city/highway/combined
CARGO: 294 litres
TOW RATING: NA
PRICE: $51,135; as tested, $60,675 including $1,950 shipping charge