Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
Throughout my week with the Cadillac ATS Coupe, I couldn't help but compare it to one vehicle and one vehicle only, the BMW 4-series. They are similar in so many ways: engine output, size, steering feel, character, everything except the price tag. A base ATS Coupe will start at $41,240, while the base BMW 428i starts slightly higher at $44,900 and with significantly fewer standard options. Add on additional packages, all-wheel drive, navigation, premium amenities, and the price difference can even hike up to $10,000. So we spent a week with the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 3.6L RWD to take a closer look at the contrast between these two sporty performance coupes and see if that German badge is really worth those five extra digits.
$2,200 is the magic number. With that money you can upgrade from the base 2.0L turbocharged direct-injected four cylinder engine to the beefier 3.6L V6. Or for the same amount of money, you can opt for All-wheel drive if you're living in snowy climates. Our tester was equipped with the naturally aspirated direct-injected 3.6L V6 engine that delivers 321 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. It may produce 20 lb-ft less than the 2.0L Turbo, but it excels in horsepower, 49 to be exact. The spool-free V6 bears an organic and gritty build-up that makes it incredibly enjoyable to drive. It's predictable, linear, and amplifies with each inch pushed down on the accelerator up to the 7000 RPM red-line. The V6 wasn't as slick or responsive as BMW's famous TwinPower Turbo inline-six, but its definitely one of GM's better engine examples.
Not only does the V6 have the advantage of no turbo lag, but it only requires regular unleaded fuel too. Cadillac says the 2.0L Turbo doesn't require premium fuel but it is highly recommended for better performance. We averaged 12.7 L/100km with a lean towards aggressive driving (my right foot was real itchy that week), which isn't bad. With gas prices this cheap and the benefit of having a sports car that isn't a princess about what fuel it requires (yes we're looking at you BMW), a week's fill-up only cost us $52.
A 6-speed manual is only offered in the 2.0L turbo, so we're left with the 6-speed automatic transmission in our tester. The shifts were smooth and we never observed any lurches or kick-backs. Downshifting with the magnesium paddle-shifters emitted a visceral and snappy roar, but the exhaust noise is a little untidy and dragged out. We also felt that the transmission could use a few extra gears or even a dual-clutch setup to get competitive with BMW's buttery 8-speed auto in the 4-series. Yet, compared to the 435i, the ATS is nearly 90kg lighter and profits with minimal lean and communicative steering. It's stiff but easily maneuverable with a true sports car feel. The Brembo brakes also have excellent stopping power, and the independent rear suspension offered a smooth and supple ride worthy of long-distance trips.
It was our first time driving with Cadillac's new unwreathed crest. We like it, but we're not as crazy about how the rest of the ATS Coupe looks. It has a wider front and rear track than the sedan, new sheetmetal on the doors, roof, fenders and trunk lid, but it's not as exciting as we'd hoped. You can tell that Cadillac played it safe when transitioning the ATS from a 4-door sedan to a 2-door coupe. There's no more arched hunchback from the previous CTS coupe or aggressive front angles. Instead, the ATS Coupe sports a low profile with an overall conservative demeanor. In my mind, it's the suit and tie of sports coupes. The lines aren't offensive and looks rather elegant in Crystal White Tricoat. This is a car you can show up with at the valet looking classy without the cheeky boy-racer looks you'd get from stepping out of a 435i Coupe. And did we mention those beautiful LED lights? After witnessing Acura's Jewel LED lights on our Acura TLX tester last week, we'll admit that it's incredibly hard to choose favourites.
The ATS Coupe's interior is where I'd rank it over the 4-series. It's got all the same stuff you'd find in an Escalade or ELR that cost nearly twice as much. The side and center panels are well put together and the craftsmanship is meticulous, much better than other models in the Cadillac lineup, ahem SRX. I really like the trendy red and black colour scheme going around the cabin. There are also carbon fibre and suede inserts to lavish things up. The seats are well bolstered, comfortable, and Cadillac's safety systems will also vibrate your butt to warn you about lane departures, forward collision alerts, or when you're about to rear-end a metal post.
There's a wealth of space upfront for the driver and passenger, but headroom is heavily lacking in the rear. Anyone taller than 5'8 might have to hunch their head down a bit, but at least the standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi will keep them concentrated on browsing the Internet rather than their hair rubbing against the headliner. Cadillac's steering wheel has got to be one of my favourite wheels, a close second to BMW's M wheel. The grip is meaty, the buttons are well placed and easy to use, and it just looks great. The instrument cluster is also quite pretty with a mix of both digital and analogue displays. CUE is still annoying as ever, but you have to admit the colour display is vibrant and high quality.
Standard equipment is another segment where the ATS Coupe wins over the BMW 4-series - rear view camera, heated front seats, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity - BMW will sell you those for a few hundred dollars each. Our tester was also loaded with the Performance Collection package that comes with front and rear park assists, auto-dimming rear view mirror, 12-speaker BOSE surround sound system, automatic front wipers, automatic high-beam, aluminum sport pedals, 18-inch aluminum wheels, illuminating door handles, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warnings, and Lane Keep Assists. Individual options were also added, such as a power sunroof ($1,395), Navigation ($1,105), Semi-aniline leather seats ($1,425), and the Crystal White Tricoat ($1,295) paint. Cough up an extra $3,040 on top of that for the Premium Collection, and Cadillac will throw you a head-up display, powered telescopic steering column, performance suspension, high-capacity engine cooling system, even brighter 18-inch wheels, and standard navigation.
It's inevitable that the ATS Coupe will be put up against the BMW 4-series. Both have modern looks, great steering feel, sublime interior quality and drive like a true sports car. Where the ATS trumps the 4-series is with more horsepower, requiring only regular fuel, a more luxurious interior, and more standard options. But where the German shines is with its more refined turbocharged engine, a smoother 8-speed automatic transmission, and lust worthy good looks. But $10,000 is a hefty premium for a brand name badge. We love the 435i, but we've begun to feel the same about the ATS Coupe. To us, they're so close that if you were to ask me which one I'd buy, I'd have to sit down and really think it through. The ATS Coupe has proved itself as a worthy German competitor, and now we just have to wait for that ATS-V to finally knock the M4 from its pedestal.
型号 Model: 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 3.6L Performance Collection
顏色 Paint Type: Crystal White Tricoat ($1,295)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $50,595
試車售價 Price as Tested: $56,245
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,775
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,663 / 1,842 / 1,393
引擎 Engine: 3.6L DOHC DI V6 with VVT
最大馬力 Horsepower: 321 hp @ 6,800 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 275 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前後懸 Suspension: 4-wheel independent, double-pivot front and 5-link rear
煞制-前後 Brakes: 4-wheel disc
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 12.8 / 8.4 / 10.8
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Front: P225/40R18, Rear: P225/35R18