2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 Premium ReviewPosted in cars, Reviews on January 28th, 2013 by admin
The Cadillac ATS 3.6 Premium Collection
Cadillac has long been known as a player in the full-size luxury car market and has made recent strides in the mid-size luxury car market with the CTS. Now they are looking for similar success with their all new, and smaller, Cadillac ATS.
Success will not come easy for Cadillac, as the ATS is sized to compete in the same class as the Audi 4-series, BWM 3-series, Mercedes-Benz C-class and other well refined, foreign, small luxury sports sedans. A lot of words have been attributed to comparing the new Cadillac ATS to the, undisputed king of the small luxury sport sedan segment, the BMW 3-series, and that is exactly what Cadillac had hoped would happen.
Cadillac has not shied from the notion that all aspects of the BMW 3-series were taken into consideration when designing, engineering and building the ATS. Both cars are nearly identical in dimensions with only fractions of an inch separating them and both cars weigh within 200-pounds of each other.
Similar to its rivals, the 2013 Cadillac ATS is available with multiple drivetrain choices: a 202-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder; a 270-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder and a 321-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6. Currently, and unfortunately, only the four-cylinder engines are available with an optional 6-speed manual transmission, while the more powerful V6 is only available with a 6-speed auto. However, as we found out, the lack of a 3-pedal option in the 3.6-liter is no reason to look for fun elsewhere.
We recently spent a week with the 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6-liter to determine, for ourselves: Does Cadillac’s latest creation have what it takes to thrive in the highly competitive small luxury sports sedan market?
The exterior of the ATS is, as would be expected from modern Cadillac, bold yet not overly angular. It is more along the lines of new XTS rather than the current generation CTS. Its grille, sweptback headlights and light bars are distinctly Cadillac yet the look of the front fascia left us wanting more – more aggression perhaps? When viewed from the profile, even with the optional 18-inch wheels wrapped in 225/40/18 front and 255/35/18 rear run-flats, the gap between the tires and wheel arches left us wishing a 19-inch wheel and tire combo was available. The rear of our Radiant Silver Metallic tester was dominated by two large-diameter stainless steel exhaust tips. Those tips belch out an acoustic note that sounds surprisingly performance rather than hollow and tacky, like most V6’s with dual exhaust.
Our tester came equipped with the premium package, which meant it was loaded with an array of creature comforts and electronics, including CUE (Cadillac User Experience), which we reviewed, critiqued and criticized in an earlier review of an XTS, found here. While CUE, in the ATS, has the same shortcomings as it did in the XTS, it did not bother us to the same extent. While we would like to say our annoyance level did not climb as high because CUE operated faster and smoother in the ATS – that wasn’t the case. It did not bother us as much because we were too busy enjoying driving the ATS.
For maximum enjoyment, we recommend tuning the radio, setting the navigation, adjusting the climate control, disengaging traction control, engaging competition mode, setting the suspension to sport and then pointing the ATS down the best driving road available. And that is exactly what we did. The road we selected consisted of long straights, sweeping turns, sharp lefts and rights and patches of rough pavement. Adding to the excitement, the local trees were well into their winter defoliation and portions of our track were covered in grip minimizing leaves. Cadillac spent considerable time tweaking the handling of the ATS on Germany’s famed Nurburging test course – and it paid off. On our course, the 3,461 pound four-door felt more like a lightweight, purpose built track car. The steering was precise, the suspension was solid, the acceleration was better than we expected and the Brembo brakes easily kept it all in check.
The ATS’ Magnetic Ride Control suspension kept the car level in turns, softened jolts caused by road surface irregularities while still providing enough feedback to know exactly how much further the car could be pressed before it let go. And let go it will – in the form of easily corrected understeer and easily controlled oversteer. The automatic transmission in our test vehicle did a fine job of upshifting and downshifting while entering and exiting the turns, however, nothing beats manually controlling when those gear changes occur. Thankfully, the automatic in the 3.6-liter ATS has steering wheel mounted paddle shifters that once engaged, by nudging the gear selector to the left; provide the driver with complete control of gear selection. Using the paddles, upshifts are crisp and quick and downshifts are RPM matched and smooth. With traction control on and without use of the paddles, our tests resulted in 0-60 mph runs in the low-mid 5-second range and quarter-mile blasts in the low 14’s. Cadillac has informed us that top speed is electronically limited to 152 mph, which is only 3 ticks below its chief German rivals.
The Light Platinum with Brownstone interior of our ATS included a leather wrapped dash with wood accents and a gloss-black center stack that housed CUE and a few hard buttons that aide in controlling portions of the audio and climate systems. Electronic assisted steering is done through a thick, small diameter wheel with built-in audio and cruise control buttons. Front seat occupants are treated to well bolstered leather seats and plenty of legroom, while rear seat passengers are less fortunate, which is not out of the ordinary for any small luxury sports sedan. Given the overall quality of the cabin, we would have expected it difficult to find gripe with the interior, however, a touch of questionable design was staring right back at us – the gauge cluster . We take no issue with an analog display; except this one looks to have seen sourced from a mid-90’s low-end Chevrolet.
For Cadillac’s first attempt at the small luxury sports sedan market to be so widely compared to the BMW 3-series, which has taken six generations to becomes what it is today, indicates great things ahead. If segment buyers are willing to give the ATS a chance, and forego the perceived status of a German mark and instead make a decision based solely on driving enjoyment, we’ll soon see a lot of ATSs on the road.
Government fuel ratings for our, as tested $49,040, 3.6-liter ATS are 19/28 mpg. During spirited driving we averaged 16 mpg, while more civil circumstances yielded mid-20’s with minimal effort.
The rumor mill has been in overdrive with regards to will they or won’t they build a V version of the ATS. If they do, we are sure it will address the lack of front fascia aggression, the slightly dull profile view and will definitely be powered by an awesome engine, making amazing power.
Will Cadillac do the right thing and grace this planet with an ATS-V? We are betting they will – stay tuned.