Written by: Don Cheng
Photography by: Don Cheng
Every time I see the Cadillac ATS, I can’t help but mutter “ATS, ATS” and laugh to myself. There’s something really comical about the name – and soon you won’t even be able to call it an ATS anymore as the company moves into a different naming scheme altogether. The name reminds me of Star Wars somehow; perhaps it’s because of the upcoming movie, or the Tri-coat Crystal White paint that made my particular tester slightly reminiscent of a blinged out Storm Trooper – cue Vader saying something like “I find your lack of pimp game disturbing”.
Despite its moniker from a galaxy far far away, the ATS has been a vehicle that’s always tickled my fancy. Since it’s launch in 2012, Cadillac has had a very ambitious game plan for their four-door five-passenger compact luxury sedan. It was going to knock down the current king of the segment, the BMW 3-series. Not an easy task for any car (even the Germans struggle with it), but is the 2016 ATS finally the one that is up to snuff to accomplish the mission?
For 2016, there have been a few changes made to the drivetrain. Cadillac still offers the same three engine choices for consumers: a 2.5L inline four, a 2.0L turbocharged inline four, and a 3.6L V6. Our tester had the 3.6L V6 plopped in the front and it just so happens that the V6 is the motor that’s received substantial updates for 2016. GM says the new motor features a redesigned block architecture allowing for increased bore spacing and thus a larger bore than the previous generation 3.6L V6.
The redesign allows for a modest power bump of both torque and peak horsepower. New buyers who opt for the V6 are now greeted with 335hp (up from 315hp) and 285 lb-ft of torque (up from 274 lb-ft). While the power bump is a welcome addition, the engineers at GM also managed to make the engine a little bit more fuel-efficient too.
The new motor bakes in their cylinder de-activation technology as well as auto start/stop. The cylinder de-activation works exactly as advertised, shutting down two cylinders when cruising at highway speeds turning the V6 into a V4. I managed 7.4 L/100KM while cruising at 120 km/h on a short (130 km) trip to Waterloo, Ontario. With a mix of city driving my average was 10.5 L/100KM, a bit higher but certainly not the worst for a car with over 300 horsepower.
The drivetrain changes don’t stop at the engine either - new for 2016 is an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The extra ratios help keep the RPMs down for better highway and city mileage. As this gearbox is GM’s own in-house solution and not a ZF-sourced gearbox (like many of the ATS’ competitors) the shifts are a bit slower than the fantastic ZF 8-speed. However, that isn’t to say that GM’s attempt is bad, it’s actually a very good gearbox and is incredibly smooth.
There are some rough edges though, for example, when cruising around in the comfort setting (GM calls it Tour) the transmission is noisy in the first three gears. When driving a bit more spiritedly, the gearbox is a bit hesitant to downshift and it up-shifts just a touch too early (unless you’re screaming at wide-open throttle). It’s as if the engineers tuned the gearbox to be mindful of comfort no matter which setting you’re in; fair, as it’s still a Cadillac at the end of the day – a car with a history deeply rooted in luxury and comfort.
All of this will get better as they update the software and fine tune things further. Why? Because this 8-speed shares the vast majority of the same components as the 8-speed found in the ATS-V, which delivers a crisper and more immediate shift. Which leads me to believe the hesitation stems from a software issue rather than a mechanical one.
My tester came equipped with the Luxury Package, which meant all the bells and whistles are tacked on minus the magnesium paddle shifters – an option only available with the 2.0L turbo. It’s a sad omittance as the magnesium paddle shifters really classed up the interior of previous ATS’s I’ve driven.
Inside, the fit and finish is excellent with plenty of soft touch, leather, and aluminum surfaces. The only part betraying the otherwise premium interior is the odd button or stalk that look like it was pulled straight from a Chevy Cruze (it probably was).
Unfortunately, Cadillac’s convoluted CUE infotainment system makes a re-appearance for 2016 – I keep pretending that the system will magically stop appearing every year and end up disappointed. Despite the presence of CUE, some changes have been made under the hood and the system is far more responsive than before; perhaps I’ve gotten used to all the different iterations of CUE, but it’s…not as bad as it used to be, especially when you factor in the addition of Apple’s CarPlay.
Those with an iPhone (which let’s be honest in 2015, is quite a large number of people) can plug in their phone via USB and project a variant of their home screen onto the CUE display. I say a variant of your home screen because the majority of your apps are unavailable, only a small selection of apps such as text messaging, maps, and music are available.
All communication to your phone is conducted via Siri; she will even read texts to you and ask if you want to reply. The software is pretty neat but still in its infancy: texts read by Siri lack intonation and are read back too quickly making it difficult to understand. It’s a viable solution for those who absolutely must reply to texts while driving, and it’s certainly better than the alternative method of texting and driving.
Why anyone would want to text and drive behind the wheel of the ATS is beyond me. It’s a sublime handler. Switching the Magnetic Damper into the “Sport” setting is like working some voodoo magic on the entire chassis as the entire car comes alive. The suspension firms up and you’re suddenly aware of all the road imperfections underneath you. The steering gets heavier and the throttle becomes more responsive too. Chucking it around a corner hard and the on demand all-wheel-drive system begins fighting hard against the laws of physics, keeping the car flat and composed. Stamping your foot down as you clip the apex, and you’re treated to the sweet BRAAAAAP of the motor. It’s a great driver’s car and really makes me wish it came with the 6-speed manual found in the ATS-V.
On my mini road trip to Waterloo, Ontario I was able to take advantage of GM’s OnStar 4G LTE connectivity. It’s some really cool tech that turns the ATS into a mobile hotspot when in accessory mode (or when the car is running). Passengers can connect through Wi-Fi and stream content. GM claims the antenna in the ATS is stronger than any antenna in a cellphone and can provide fast reliable data while you preserve your phone’s precious battery. It’s a great feature for road trips and when you find yourself lost and stranded in a wasteland. Pricing for the 4G LTE varies ranging from $10 to $60/monthly (if you are already an OnStar subscriber).
At an as-tested price of $54,840, the ATS mixes right in with its German rivals’ price tags. Since its inception, the General has worked hard to make the ATS an attractive alternative to BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz, a status that the car has reached in incredibly short order. However, being an alternative is still like being second best, and in the wise words of Ricky Bobby, “if you ain’t first, you’re last”. It’s an identity that Cadillac has worked hard to shed but for 2016, the ATS has finally found itself on even footing with the BMW 3-series, and that’s something the General needs to be proud of.
型号 Model: 2016 Cadillac ATS 3.6L AWD Sedan
顏色 Paint Type: Crystal White Tricoat ($1,145)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $47,580
試車售價 Price as Tested: $54,740
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,776
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,643 / 1,806 / 1,420
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: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson-type with dual lower ball joints and direct-acting stabilizer bar. Magnetic Ride Control with monotube inverted struts.
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Independent five-link with Magnetic Ride Control with monotube shocks
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.2 / 8.5 / 10.5
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P225/40R18 front; P225/35R18 rear
Build & Price: Cadillac ATS