2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe
Cadillac’s two-door is more than worthy to battle against its M and AMG super coupe competitors.
The 3,699-lb. rear-wheel drive ATS-V Coupe, which pairs that powerhouse engine with either an auto rev-matching six-speed manual or GM’s homemade eight-speed auto boasting magnesium paddles that flick through the same gearing as the Corvette, rocks the 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds. It’s as quick as both the M4 and the AMG C63, almost a half-second quicker than the Lexus, and more than a half-second quicker than Infiniti’s Q60 coupe.
Simply put, this car is fast and tight—its torsional rigidity is actually 25 percent better than the regular ATS thanks in part to extra bracing in the engine bay that includes an aluminum skid plate sealing off the base of the subframe. The stability comes via a 0.2-inch wider front track, while the rear decreases by 0.3 inches, plus Cadillac claims its variable-ratio electrically assisted steering is 14 percent stiffer.
Speaking of stiff, spring rates are up by 50 percent all-round, while third-generation Magnetic Ride Control dampers combine with upgraded bushings and ball joints for impressive command of the road plus a surprisingly composed ride. What’s more, the V gets standard competition-spec traction and stability control with five uniquely tuned traction modes including Wet, Dry, Sport 1, Sport 2 and Race, and that’s not including the regular drive modes that include Tour, Sport, Track, and Snow/Ice.
As usual in this super-performance sub-segment Brembo supplies the cease and desist orders via big 14.6-inch rotors and six-piston calipers up front and 13.3-inch rear discs and four-piston units in back. When combined with lightweight design that incorporates ultra-high-strength steel, aluminum and other advanced materials, the result is near immediate stopping power.
All of this go-fast excitement doesn’t mean, however, that the ATS-V Coupe is a beast for daily driving. In fact, it’s ideal for tooling around town at more relaxed speeds and hardly a chore to park. Its front Recaro seats are amongst the best available both from a comfort and a performance perspective. The front seats have plenty of room, although the rear ones are best left to smaller adults or kids. Likewise the trunk is on the smaller side at 10.4 cubic feet, but 60/40-split seatbacks allow for stowing longer items when needed. And with an EPA rating of 16 mpg city, 24 highway and 19 combined, it’s even not too bad at the pump.
Cadillac may not finish its trunk or engine spaces as fancy as other brands, but the passenger compartment is a feast for all senses. While the lower door panels that are hard plastic and therefore not up to the class standard, the rest of the ATS-V cabin is over the top with plenty of standard carbon fiber inlays, genuine aluminum accents, sueded microfiber trim, and “hand-selected” Mulan leather detailing. It’s all beautifully done, with additional surfaces finished in piano black lacquer, bins and pockets lined in a nice velvety material, fabric-wrapped pillars, and extremely high resolution, full-color electronic displays.
Cadillac’s “three-window” primary gauge package works in conjunction with an optional head-up display as well as the infotainment system atop the center stack, the latter featuring a flick and swipe capable eight-inch touchscreen with feedback vibrations, plus the usual features such as a backup camera with active guidelines, accurate navigation, enhanced voice recognition, superb Bose audio with active noise control, easy phone setup with Apple CarPlay, etcetera, while a row of digital buttons pop up across the bottom of the display when your hand touches the touch-sensitive controls on the audio and dual-zone auto HVAC interface just below.
Of note, you can upgrade the infotainment system with a Performance Data Recorder (PDR) that analyzes (and shares) your track data, including front camera video, in-cabin audio, performance metrics including 0-to-60 mph sprints, lap times and g-force, and more. No challenger offers anything like it. Some additional wow factor is found behind that interface that actually powers up to expose a hidden compartment complete with wireless charging, and the car comes with 4G LTE for Wi-Fi hotspot capability.
Before getting too excited about the ATS-V Coupe’s $62,665 base-price value proposition, consider that many of the features mentioned in this review aren’t standard. For example, choosing Crystal White Frost paint brings a mandatory $10,900 package that included the carbon-fiber front splitter, hood vent trim, and rear diffuser, adaptive HID headlamps (not LEDs), alloy pedals, navigation, Bose audio, a garage door opener, Wi-Fi, satellite and HD radio, and more. The red Brembo brake calipers cost $625 (gold is also available), and the eight-speed automatic transmission adds another $2,000. The Recaro seats add another $2,300, while the heads-up display comes as part of a $1,500 Safety & Security package that also includes a self-powered alarm, auto high beams, rain-sensing wipers, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert, lane departure warning and autonomous lane keep assist. And that Performance Data Recorder? As a standalone option it’s $1,300 or you can get it as part of a $6,195 Track Performance package. As tested, this ATS-V Coupe came in at a cool $81,260 before freight and dealer fees. Build an BMW M4 with similar features and it’ll actually save you $2.5k, so choosing a near loaded ATS-V Coupe is certainly not about price.
That said, the ATS-V is a car designed to hustle down the racetrack straight at 189 mph, is fully capable of standing on its own four wheels as a worthy entrant into this upper echelon of super-sport coupes, and is priced fairly for a car that delivers in equal measure. Cadillac realizes as much as the rest of us that the ATS-V’s slice of this rarified performance pie will be slim at best, but that’s ok because it’s building crested-wreath credibility and worker morale as much as it’s trying to lure in new buyers, even if those prospective owners are more likely to purchase a $40-something ATS or XT5 instead.
*Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Trevor Hofmann and Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press; Copyright: American Auto Press *