This edition of Drivetime puts us in a nameplate that is looking to reclaim the title “Standard of the World,” Cadillac and the car that could go a long way toward getting them there – the ATS.
Now, I grew up in a Cadillac family. My dad was a Cadillac guy. From a ’55 sedan that my mom made him sell because she wouldn’t ride in a green car through the fins era right on through the 80s, there was always something with the surname de Ville parked in the driveway. Big boats, that signified a certain sign of success. Joe loved his Cadillacs.
Well, Caddy has been out of the marine business for several years now with exciting machines like the CTS-V and leaner full size offerings like the XTS. Now, Caddy looks to take on the BMW 3 series and Audi A4’s of the world and after spending a week in the ATS, I’m thinking that this car can go tire to tire with both.
From the outside, the ATS cuts a sharp athletic profile at the front with a smaller grille and aggressive headlamp units that flow into the sculpted bladed fender tops. The LED light treatment is muted showing some styling restraint. The sharp lines flow into softer fenders and body components and back out into an angular rear end with spoiler and dual exhaust prominent.
Inside, the ATS borders on Audiesque in how good the interior is. Seats are comfortable, supportive, adjustable to a fault and are covered in high quality materials. Likewise, the rest of the interior. Fit and finish may be the best in the class with just the right use of wood and metal inserts. Then there is CUE, the Cadillac User Experience. It controls just about everything in the car and along with OnStar may bring you the most user friendly control system in the class. If you can use a smartphone you can use CUE. Trunk space is a bit small, but adequate.
Under the safety umbrella we find eight standard airbags. There are rear thorax bags available and a number of radar based and camera based features can be ordered, including the “wake me, shake me when I leave the lane” seats. Should save somebody’s life!
Now, all that is fine, but if the ATS doesn’t turn you on when you drive it its all for nothing right? In this department the ATS shines. The version I drove had the 272 horsepower 2.0 liter 4 cylinder turbo with the six speed manual transmission and from the moment you slipped into traffic, you knew this was going to be a performance car. Not in the manner of all out snap your neck performance, which I would expect from the V series when it hits the street…(oh please)…but from a car that knows it has the capability to deliver passing when it needs to, behavior through the curves when you want it to and a bit of an animalistic quality when nobody is watching. There are other drive trains available but I can’t imagine any of them being better that the one this car was equipped with.
The combination of ZF power steering, all-wheel drive and sport suspension gave the Caddy the kind of driving experience that you would expect out of the German cars in the class. And just to make it interesting, they slapped on big Brembo brakes and 18-inch wheels to make sure it grips the road and stops along with everyone else in the class and better than most.
All this out the door…$47,270. With a mileage rating of 24 combined 20 city 30 highway The ATS gets a five star safety rating from federal government in all of its tests.
The automotive media voted the Cadillac ATS the 2013 North American Car of the Year. They got it right. In these times of worry about so many things, I want my car to be not only reliable good transportation, but I need it to be fun to drive, to take me away from stress, to be something that I am proud to drive up to the car wash or the country club and most of all, be a car that I can connect with. The 2013 Cadillac ATS may be the most driver-connected car GM has ever produced and should be the one to get luxury car buyers to connect with Cadillac once again. Joe would be proud of the General on this one even if it’s last name isn’t de Ville.
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Get more reviews, news about cars and the people who drive them, interviews and tips on how to get more out of your driving experience all on Drivetime with Vinnie Richichi and Rob Pratte Saturday mornings 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA. Also listen to Vinnie on The Vinnie and Cook Show Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.