2016 Cadillac ATS CoupePosted on March 30th, 2016
Luxury coupe gets more powerful V-6 engine
By Nina Russin
Since its debut five years ago, the sporty Cadillac ATS has captured the hearts of buyers loving the performance of the larger CTS, but preferring a more compact package. Available as a sedan or coupe with rear or all-wheel drive, the ATS is a serious competitor against the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
For 2016 Cadillac raises the bar with a new V-6 engine that is both more powerful and fuel efficient, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Cadillac was one of the pioneers of cylinder management systems in the 1980s. Although early versions weren’t known to be particularly reliable, the new ones are and operation is seamless to the driver.
Cylinder deactivation on the newest ATS stretches highway fuel economy to 30 miles-per-gallon. Automatic stop/start at idle enhances gas mileage around town.
The V-6 comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, enabling drivers to make the most of the engine’s 333-horsepower.
Base price for the rear-wheel drive premium grade tested is $50,835. Options on the test car include an active safety package that adds adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, an electric parking brake and automatic safety belt tightening, power sunroof and metallic red exterior paint, bringing the final MSRP to $56,415.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
Over the past week, I drove the newest ATS around the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area as well as on a road trip between Phoenix and Tucson, offering a good chance to assess high-speed performance, maneuverability through traffic and interior quiet.
Overall, Cadillac’s compact sport coupe is a remarkably good piece of machinery. The engine is every bit as good as advertised: quiet, smooth and powerful. Its high compression ratio and direct injection give the engine excellent throttle response. Surprisingly, the ATS V-6 does not require premium unleaded gasoline.
The eight-speed automatic transmission is well matched to the engine providing smooth, linear shifts with no hunting or harsh downshifts under normal driving conditions.
Weight balance front-to-rear is quite good, making the ATS a great choice for winding rural roads on a Sunday afternoon. The test car comes with optional 18-inch rims and summer performance tires, giving the car a nice fat footprint for high-speed traction.
Magnetic ride control utilizes a rheostatic fluid to make real-time adjustments to the suspension for changes in road surface or the driver’s behavior. It is an effective way of making the suspension both comfortable and responsive.
A limited slip differential keeps the coupe tracking straight if one of the wheels starts to spin out.
The ZF electric power assist steering system is one of the best units I’ve experienced, with good on-center response and none of the numb feeling that is the bane of some competitors.
Brembo front brakes provide firm, linear stopping.
Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing noise, vibration and harshness so occupants can converse on the highway or enjoy the car’s premium Bose audio system. Keyless entry and start makes it easier to enter the car after dark, while a sentinel lighting system adds some security around the vehicle perimeter.
I found the driver’s seat easy to adjust, though I would have preferred more aggressive lower lumbar support. I appreciated being able to warm up the leather upholstery with seat heaters on cool mornings.
Haptic feedback for the active safety systems is through the seat bottom: something I personally have a hard time getting used to. I prefer the Mercedes-Benz system of providing the feedback through the steering wheel.
The car’s infotainment system incorporates a 4G LTE hotspot that can be a lifesaver in remote areas such as the Indian communities between Phoenix and Tucson. A large center stack screen is easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions. The rearview camera image is sharp and legible: even after dark.
A heads-up display enables the driver to monitor speed and utilize some of the active safety features with minimal distraction. The display is adjustable so it doesn’t interfere with the driver’s forward view.
Blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots.
Standard OnStar lets the driver call for turn-by-turn directions using a button on the rearview mirror. While the car also has a conventional navigation system, OnStar offers the advantage of requiring no programming, so the driver needn’t pull off to the side of the road. The system will also notify police and emergency medical personnel in the event of a serious collision.
The coupe’s trunk has enough room for roller bags and a couple pieces of smaller luggage. Second-row seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor for longer items.
The Cadillac ATS comes with eight airbags, rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, daytime running lamps, hill start assist, antilock brakes, stability control and tire pressure monitoring.
Cadillac builds the ATS at its Lansing, Michigan assembly plant.
Like: A stylish, powerful sport sedan with excellent ride and handling, advanced active safety and infotainment features.
Dislike: Haptic feedback through the seat bottom is uncomfortable.
Model: ATS 3.6 RWD Premium
Base price: $50,835
As tested: $56,415
Horsepower: 333 Hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque: 285 lbs.-ft. @ 4800 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 20/30 mpg city/highway