2014 Cadillac ATS Coupe Review

Cadillac’s baby coupe comes out swinging for the segment leaders

Imthishan Giado

2014 Cadillac ATS Coupe 

Really, it began with the CTS. That midsizer was the first to show that long also-ran Cadillac was finally serious about making accomplished automobiles that could compete with the heaviest hitters from Europe and the Far East. Coupe, station wagon, mighty CTS-V; the platform proved incredibly flexible.

But it was the ATS, released last year that proved Caddy could actually best them. Here at last, a car which needed no excuses; a compact executive saloon that had the technology, materials, drivetrain and – finally! – the drive to outmatch the now-flabby BMW 3-Series.

2014 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Transitioning it to two fewer doors hasn’t hurt its aesthetic appeal. Incidentally, this is the first Cadillac to feature the new company crest, sleeker and now bereft of the adorning wreath. I have fondness of that wreath – who doesn’t want to be Caesar? – but it’s definitely too fussy for the younger buyers Caddy is aiming to attract with this vehicle.

From the front three-quarter view this is still an ATS; move pass the A-pillar mirrors and the elegantly grafted tail becomes evident, leading onto a haunchy rear end that will bring back memories of the dearly departed CTS-V. No boy-racer fender flares here; you can expect those to pop up in the inbound twin-turbo V6 ATS-V.

2014 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Speaking of engines

For the launch of the Middle East we’ll have to make do with just one. Luckily, it’s the most powerful mill: the regular 3.6-litre V6, here with 321bhp and 373nm of torque, mated exclusively to a six-speed auto. Other markets get a 2.5-litre four-cylinder and a blown 2-litre four with a stick; if demand is strong, you may well see them too.

It’s a good engine, this V6. Plenty of low end torque for mooching around town, makes a lovely rasp as you lay into the loud pedal. What’s more important than how fast the ATS is (and it is pretty quick; 0-100kph in 5.6 seconds) is how the ATS feels. The steering, ZF’s new ‘Premium’ version, is crisp and direct that darts the ATS into bends; how refreshing to drive a car that resists the dreaded push.

It’s American, but can it turn?

It’s abundantly clear that the ATS Coupe, with its brilliant optional Magnetic Ride Control suspension, can easily handle even more engine. Unlike the fat, over-torqued Germans, the coupe is a balanced weapon in the bends, easily able to maintain your chosen line and never threatening to oversteer you off the nearest cliff. Mid corner adjustability is helped by a standard locking diff, which stops you spinning power away in seriously sharp turns. The Brembo brakes were never seriously put to the test by our demanding Jebel Jais mountain route. Overall, the car feels taut and eager, which can only be good news for the upcomingChevrolet Camaro, set to ride on this new Alpha platform.

2014 Cadillac ATS Coupe

What’s it like inside?

The cabin’s standard Cadillac ATS, which is to say, pretty good. The seats offer a great driving position, the CUE infotainment system is among the best in the business and there’s every toy you think you’ll need, including a heads-up display. Though I didn’t get it to test it, the coupe also offers Siri Eyes Free voice control of your Apple device and optional wireless charging. With the slightly reduced visibility afforded by that tapering c-pillar, you’ll be thankful for the standard backup camera.

2014 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Back seat accommodation is not the torture chamber you’d think, able to accommodate six-footers with ease (though for anyone over that, it’s short trips only) while the boot is simply massive. Cadillac’s pitching this car as a second car for ‘young spirited drivers’, but I reckon they’re wrong; this car is easily capable of functioning as your only vehicle.

2014 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Verdict

There’s little doubt that the ATS Coupe is the best driving car in the segment and at a starting price of AED194,000 it undercuts every six-cylinder engine rival on price as well. Trouble is, in this fashionista-led segment the badge on the front can count for more than value and excellent dynamics, which is how the Germans have stayed on top for so long.

If Cadillac keeps making cars this good though, they’d better watch out.

2014 Cadillac ATS Coupe Review – The Specs

Price: AED194,000 ($52,815)
Engine: 3.6-litre V6, 321bhp @ 6800rpm, 275lb ft @ 4800rpm
Transmission: Six speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 8.5 L/100km (city, claimed)
Performance: 0-100kph 5.6 seconds, Top speed 234kph
Gross Weight: 1617kg

 

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