“You know, this is a really nice car. I could happily drive this to Florida”, Me.
That statement, made to my drive partner, Ronnie Fung from Autoblog Canada, became the topic of a rather heated discussion over dinner during the Canadian launch of the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe. We were discussing how nice the coupe version of Caddy’s 3-series fighter is when I said that a nice car is the auto writer’s worst nightmare.
American Cadillac PR Dude, David Caldwell took this comment to mean that I had somehow implied that the newest Cadillac was not all that wonderful. In truth, he totally missed my point. I like the ATS Coupe and would enjoy driving it on a long trip. It is nice. It is easy to describe a car that sucks. It is equally easy to gush over a car that is fantastic. A car that falls into the nice category is more of a challenge.
Visually, the ATS Coupe is instantly recognizable as a Cadillac, with sharply sculpted edge lines, tasteful brightwork and jewel-like lamps. The Coupe is much more than a sedan with two doors chopped out of the middle however, as it shares only the hood and grille with its four door sibling. Said grille (and the trunk for that matter) is dominated by Cadillac’s new shield, which is essentially a blown up version of the brand’s classic crest. Up close it looks almost too colourful to my eyes, but adds a welcome bit of character when you zoom out.
The interior follows Cadillac’s latest trend of using high quality materials, and elegant design which might best be called modern comfortable. Instantly recognizable as an American car, the ATS Coupe features all the creature comforts that we have come to expect in a car of this stature. Interestingly, the back seat looks bigger than what I remember seeing in the sedan. Even the trunk is a usable size, easily swallowing two roller bags and a ton of camera gear.
The ATS Coupe is available with a choice of four or six cylinder engines, with rear or all wheel drive. The 2.0L, turbocharged four produces 272 horsepower and 295 lb/ft, while the normally aspirated 3.6L six turns out 321 ponies but just 275 lb/ft. The four pot can be mated to either a 6-speed automatic or an actual 6-speed manual transmission. The six is only available with the automatic. What is difficult to understand is why a limited slip differential is only available with the V6. Wouldn’t it make more sense to offer the LSD to the consumer who chooses a manual transmission and the engine that produces more torque?
Both engines offer more than enough oomph to make the drive entertaining and suspension delivers a supple ride that allows for some spirited driving on rural roads yet does not punish the occupants when those roads turn bumpy. Not firm enough for you? Just wait, my gut says we will see a V version one day soon.
So how does one choose engines? For the performance enthusiast, the row your own 2.0 is the obvious choice. The only challenge here is that the four sounds like, well, it sounds like a four cylinder. I just couldn’t help but feel as if that sound was not in keeping with the rest of the car. Don’t get me wrong, the drive is good and there is lots of power, but I just don’t know if this is the right soundtrack for a luxury sports tourer. The six on the other hand has a delightful growl that perfectly suits the Coupe’s personality. If only there was a manual transmission offered with it.
With a base price of $41,240 here in Canada, the ATS Coupe slots in nicely below the 4-Series, C250, A5 and Q60. Only the Infiniti offers more horsepower, while the Caddy’s reported 096 km/h time of 5.6 seconds nips the BMW and Infiniti by one tenth of a second. The other two aren’t even close.
The luxury sport sedan segment is a tough one, with some very solid competitors. It wasn’t too long that a Cadillac product wouldn’t have made the cut for many shoppers in this market, but the company has made huge strides in finish quality and the drive experience. So much so that the ATS Coupe is a worthy addition to the fray. I stand by my feelings that the ATS Coupe is nice, but I will save my fanatical cheering for the day I drive an ATS-V Coupe!