Cadillac has a hit on its hands with the compact luxury ATS sedan, and now there’s a sporty coupe for you to tuck in your garage next to the 4-door.
That’s certainly Cadillac’s hope. Its marketers are looking for a lot of well-off younger buyers opting for one of each, as both are fun and modestly priced in the entry-level compact luxury sport market. My previous ATS sedan test was mostly favorable, so I wasn’t surprised at how much I enjoyed the “majestic plum metallic” (metallic grayish purple) test coupe. This was the 2.0T RWD Premium model, so closer to top-end than bottom.
Top-end is the 3.6L Premium with all-wheel-drive, listing at $52,430 with delivery. The test car started at $47,590 and added $995 for delivery for a total of $48,585. Price aside, the ATS has a fair amount of pluses in its portfolio.
First, ATS looks great, even better than the snazzy sedan. It repeats the sedan’s vertical lights front and rear and those front lenses fold over the fender pointing up toward the cockpit. Spiffy! So nose and tail look great and its profile is sportier than the sedan with a hit of the fastback look. Overall its body is still taunt and well chiseled with a lean athletic stance.
Like the sedan the coupe handles well and this one packs a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 with variable valve timing and direct injection. Numbers? It creates 272 horses and a 260 torque rating. It’s quick, but there is some turbo lag and you’ll need to use premium fuel if you expect full power.
I continue to like GM’s 6-speed automatic and it mates well with the 2.0T providing smooth shifts. I certainly wasn’t shy about nailing the gas pedal, yet still managed 23.6.5 mpg in about 60% highway driving with up to four folks aboard. The EPA rates this at 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
Handling is sporty with good turn-in to corners. The car steers well and with moderate steering wheel feel and good road feedback. There’s no lean in hard cornering and with the turbo it’ll race up to highway speeds in short order. And while German coupes often feel heavy, the ATS feels agile. In fact, at 3,411 lbs., GM bills it as the lightest compact luxury coupe on the market. Touche!
Ride though is firm and sporty, maybe a bit too firm for some riders. You feel the tar strips and cement expansion joints, no matter the setting you tune into the car.
Yes, there are three driving modes with ATS. Some luxury cars have four, but three is sufficient as you’d generally be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a third and fourth mode.
Here there is Touring, Sport and Ice/Snow to give you varying shift points for the tranny and tightening, or softening, the suspension. Touring is what most of us will want, but Sport tightens the steering effort and suspension, while the Ice/Snow setting tries to help you avoid wheel spin upon takeoff. Plus there’s traction and stability control.
Braking is first rate with a Brembo system featuring big discs front and rear.
Inside, I like the Cady’s looks. This one had black leather seats, dash and door trim, complete with gray stitching. There’s brushed metal trim on the doors and passenger-side dash and a gloss black console and center stack to give the car a modern, youthful appearance.
Seats are sporty and well contoured with power seats up front and the driver gets power side bolsters too. Both front seats offer three heating levels and two memory settings are available for the driver’s seat, the controls for the later up high on the driver’s door. A power tilt/telescope steering wheel with full accessory buttons on the hub is easy to use too. And, one of my favorite features in winter, the ATS has a heated steering wheel.
Back seat room was fine for four adults if the front seat folks are like me, fairly short. Naturally it’s a little tough to crawl into the back seat, but there’s a release atop the seat back and you can power both front seats forward and back with another button. Dodging the shoulder harness is the most difficult feat.
Trunk space is modest at 10.4 cubic feet, but well-shaped for carrying golf clubs or other long items.
I like the dash’s look and instrumentation with the main gauges having blue rings that are easy to see at night. This model comes with a head-up display (HUD) that allows you to keep your eyes on the road as it projects your speed onto the windshield. ATS has a lane departure system that you can turn off if it becomes too annoying, plus a rear-view camera, universal remote, front and rear park assist and a wireless charging system for cell phone and i-everything addicts.
The Cadillac User Experience (CUE) still isn’t my favorite electronic entertainment/navigation interface. It looks beautiful as there are just little symbols for the radio, climate controls and other electronics on the center stack’s glossy black surface. But taping or pressing these touch-pad controls doesn’t always work the first time, so you find yourself repeatedly punch the buttons or trying to adjust the radio volume. Note too, these do not work if you are wearing gloves. So, to turn the heated seat on, or up, or down you’ll need to take your glove off. First world problem I know, but annoying at this price.
However, a way cool feature that is both helpful and looks great is the car’s lighted door handles. While the exterior mirrors project light on the pavement by your car door, the thin door handles light up to help you find them in a dark parking lot, plus impress your friends.
It’s no secret that Cady hopes the ATS will convert some younger drivers who might have leanings toward BMW’s 3 series, or Lexus’s IS model. From a performance and price standpoint it should convert some open-minded shoppers who also prefer styling that doesn’t blend in.
FAST Stats: 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 2.0T RWD Premium
Hits: Distinctive looking coupe with good power, precise handling and good mpg. Comfortable interior, well-formed leather seats, three-level seat heat, heated wheel, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, blue-lighted main gauges and lighted exterior door handles.
Misses: Ride is stiff, trunk on the small side and CUE touch-pad electronic entertainment system is quirky, doesn’t work if user is wearing gloves.
Made in: Lansing, Mich.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4, 272 hp
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Weight: 3,411 lbs.
Wheelbase: 109.3 in.
Length: 183.6 in.
Cargo: 10.4 cu.ft.
MPG: 21/30 (EPA)
MPG: 23.6 (tested)
Base Price: $47,590
Dealer’s Price: $48,090 (includes delivery)
Majestic Plum Metallic paint, $495
Test vehicle: $48,585
Sources: Cadillac, www.kbb.com