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2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Cadillac, Test Drives


Cadillac has introduced their answer to the BMW M3 and M4 with the all-new 2016 ATS-V. Some have said there will never be anything to trump the famous M3/M4 for such is a vehicle that performs so well on the track yet it flawlessly serves as your luxurious and sporty daily commuter. As it turns out, after a week of living with the new 2016 ATS-V Coupe on daily drives, back roads and closed lots, BMW has been put on notice by Cadillac.

I will get the fact out of the way that I am a long-time BMW M3 owner and have lauded the famous do-it-all sports car for well over a decade now. In my initial impressions of the ATS-V Coupe, when it first graced my driveway, I had my doubts and the ATS-V had to work overtime to live up to my BMW M3-benchmarked expectations. Little did I know I would walk away from the new ATS-V Coupe with wide-opened eyes and aspiring heart for the American brand that attempted to sneak BMW’s trophy out of the door.


The new 2016 Cadillac ATS-V pits a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 engine producing a vigorous 464 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque through either a 6-speed manual transmission or 8-speed automatic. My test vehicle came equipped with the 8-speed auto with steering wheel-mounted magnesium shift paddles. Also equipped on my test vehicle is the optional Track Package incorporating several functional carbon fiber bits to aid in vehicle down force at speed in addition to garnishing the ATS-V’s long proportioned heavy doors with blacked-out rocker panel extensions, a massive carbon fiber splitter and air extractors up front, and a lower rear carbon fiber diffuser adding to the menacing look with a body-color high-swooping rear deck lid spoiler reaching for the sky.


The dual personalities of the new Cadillac ATS-V Coupe are quite discernible thanks to many factors. The magnetic ride dampers, enveloping a personality of their own making adjustments in milliseconds to keep a composed but capable ride tone in Touring mode, one of the four selectable drive modes of the ATS-V. Moving from Touring mode to Sport mode immediately tightens the ride by way of adding voltage to the magnetorheological dampers while the steering wheel’s electric assisted rack has added weight as speed increases. Track mode only amplifies the same traits in addition to remapping the quick-but-smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission to perform automated rev-matched downshifts upon aggressive deceleration.

Speaking of increasing speed, the ATS-V Coupe isn’t shy about showing its true Red, White and Blue American muscle characteristics making it to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds all the while the sticky 275/35R18-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires out back do their job in harmony with the electronic limited slip differential to keep things in a straight line.


The Cadillac ATS-V Coupe is fierce, one of those warp-speed machines that seems to understate its horsepower and torque figures according to your butt dyno. The ATS-V bangs through the gears getting what seems to be a second wind as you reach the posted interstate speed limit. At Cadillac’s engineering hands, the muffled-sounding twin-turbo V6 holds onto boost and gathers it quickly permitting hardly any noticeable lag out of the hole. The body seems to button down as speed increases with a feeling that there is no end to the forward thrust of the ATS-V – to the tune of 189 mph if you dare.

Diving into turns is almost just as rewarding as the ATS-V Coupe fights back to limit body roll only caving a bit to claw its way out of sharp bends with nearly one full lateral g (0.98 g). The ease of driving the ATS-V like a hoon is an edgy feeling initially but eventually turns into being confidence-inspiring after you come out of a corner in disbelief that you made it safely. Call it what you want, but the ATS-V Coupe reminds me of a Bavarian delicacy cooked to near perfection.


Slowing things down is done in a traditional sense with ventilated steel rotors on all fours clamped down by 6-piston Brembo brakes up front and 4-piston rear calipers. The brakes do a phenomenal job to slow all 3,700 pounds of the ATS-V in just 103 feet from 60 mph. There is hardly any noticeable fade upon repeated high-speed stops. Of course, the clever air ducting, including the direction of air to the front-mounted oil coolers, engine’s intercooler and differential coolers, do their proper job to prevent heat soak and properly feed the two turbos fresh air.

Yes, that carbon fiber hood vent is fully functional allowing a pressure release for hot air to be extracted from down under at speed.

EPA fuel estimates for the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe come in at 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Admittedly, because the ATS-V Coupe is so much fun to throw around on public roads, my fuel estimate observations wouldn’t do any justice as I never reached anywhere near the 24 mpg highway figure. We’re talking about 13 mpg after all is said and done for my extravagant driving. The local highway patrol may have even voiced the words “Fast Cadillac” over the radio a couple times.


The interior of the new ATS-V Coupe captures a familiar page from the Cadillac book of design. The dashboard cluster remains to be somewhat of a disappointment to set itself apart from a normal ATS but at its benefit there is a smallish configurable color information screen for pertinent vehicle data.


The CUE system – a system that seems to resurrect that same old decaying dead horse – only reiterates the sentiments of most journalistic approaches to modern-day Cadillacs’ infotainment system. In totality, the CUE (Cadillac User Experience) infotainment system is one of those love-hate children that seems to leisurely get better with age (2016 ATS-V’s CUE has a faster processor) but still has awful blemishes that are exacerbated if you touch them. You know what I’m talking about – fingerprints on the glossy surface, touch-capacitive buttons that work when they want to, and did I say fingerprints?

The carbon fiber trim and soft touch surfaces with suede-like trim on the doors and dash all add a pleasant feel to the sporty appeal of the ATS-V’s cabin, as does the beefy leather-wrapped steering wheel.


The remarkable Recaro Performance Seats with perforated suede inserts, a must-have-option worth every bit of $2,300, are among the best I have experienced. The adjustable bolster seats support you in the right places and are wide and tall enough for big guys like me at 6 feet 3 inches tall. The nearly endless adjustments with an astounding amount of legroom from the long travel of the seats give anyone at virtually any size the optimal driving position to pilot the thrill machine that the ATS-V is on a track or twisty back roads making a quick detour before you arrive at work.

Out back, as expected, things are a bit tight but you have just about room to tote two of your favorite small-proportioned friends around for an intoxicating thrill ride. Just make sure they don’t trip over the thoughtlessly-placed front seatbelts when entering and exiting the rear seats.

Cadillac pulled out many of the stops required to catch and edge on the Germans when it comes to the new ATS-V Coupe, however there are additional faults with the ATS-V Coupe.

cadillac-atsv-alfa-4c-high (2)

Cadillac has allowed a bit of self-admiration to get the best of them when it comes to the price of admission after optioning out the ATS-V. The 2016 Cadillac ATS-V isn’t cheap after you tack on a few option packages even if its starting price is about $2,700 less than that of the BMW M4. My test vehicle, leaving a little room for a couple additional option packages to bring the price even higher, comes to as-tested price of $78,035. A comparably equipped BMW M4 will cost nearly a grand less, configured at $77,095 including destination (double-clutch transmission, executive package, adaptive M suspension). Mind you, at such a price, my ATS-V still doesn’t have those optional yet attractive LED day-time running lights up front or HID headlights.

In my Track Pack-configured ATS-V, it is just that, configured for the track – a place only a miniscule percentage of its owners will boldly go. The styling aspects in this area fail to impress me with two projector Halogen headlights to get me home from may tracking excursions, even if I took home the winning trophy against my friend’s new carbon ceramic brakes-equipped BMW M4. This is 2015 isn’t it?


The ATS-V Coupe is definitely unique in its Cadillac-branded skin, and that I tip my hat to. However, I still reserve the BMW M4 as the one that does it all, maybe a hair slower than the ATS-V Coupe, but with a bit more flare, style and pedigree. I totally get the new 2016 Cadillac ATS-V – it had me at 3.8 seconds to 60 mph while firmly planted in those exceptional Recaro seats. You are there, Cadillac. Right there!

Copyright: 2015


  • Price: Base ATS-V Coupe $62,665 / As-Tested ATS-V Coupe $78,035
  • Engine: 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged DOHC V6 464 horsepower @ 5,850 rpm / 445 ft-lbs. torque @ 3,500 rpm
  • Turning circle: 38.4 ft.
  • Length: 184.7 inches
  • Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
  • Height: 54.5 inches
  • Width: 72.5 inches
  • Legroom: f/r-42.3 / 33.5 inches
  • Headroom: f/r-37.6 / 35.1 inches
  • Seating Capacity: 4
  • EPA trunk volume: 10.4 cu.ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 3.8 seconds
  • Fuel tank: 16 gallons
  • EPA fuel mileage: 16/city, 24/highway

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