No matching results

Recent Articles

Popular Makes

Body Types

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe Luxury Car First Drive

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
October 20, 2014
4 min. Reading Time
2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe ・  Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe ・ Photo by Benjamin Hunting

There was once a time when Cadillac coupes could be counted on for over-the-top style, with acres of chrome, miles of fenders, and maybe a fin or two for good measure.  The 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe, however, turns away from even the mild excesses of the soon-to-be-departed Cadillac CTS Coupe to present entry-level luxury buyers with a clean and classy personality that cribs the best angles of the ATS sedan while dialing down the dramatic flair of past Cadillac efforts.  No one's ever said Clark Kent wasn't handsome, and underneath the ATS Coupe's well-cut street clothes lurks the same impressive chassis that serves as the basis for its four-door sibling. 

As I discovered during a two-day drive this past week, you don't need to find a phone booth to take advantage of the Cadillac's superior attributes.  A simple downward motion with the right foot and a steady hand on the steering wheel revealed the new ATS Coupe to be walking tall in the face of a legion of Eur-enemies - and at a price that's sure to catch the eye of more than a few premium car shoppers.

Strategy, Strategy, Strategy

To beat the best at their own game calls for a serious study of the playing field.  The 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe targeted the BMW 4 Series (the new name for the 3 Series coupe) early on its development as the prison bully that you've got to knock out on your first day behind bars to earn any respect from the other inmates.  It did this by remembering something the German geniuses behind stalwarts like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the Audi A5, and yes the previously-mentioned BMW seem to have forgotten: adding lightness is a major key to improving performance.  Each of the ATS Coupe's rivals have packed on the pounds in recent years in a bid to out-luxury each other with new features, and the end result has seen the days of a premium coupe with a lithe chassis seem like a distant memory.

The 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe might not be a flyweight, but it does come in at 3,418 lbs in its base configuration - a figure that is 52 lbs more svelte than the entry-level 4 Series and a notable 165 lbs less than the A5.  This focus on reducing mass has paid dividends in the handling department, where the ATS Coupe offers a responsiveness to steering input and a level of feedback through its suspension system that is at least on par with that of class bogey BMW.  There's also a wider track for the two-door compared to the sedan, along with a slight increase in overall length, and if you are feeling particularly froggy you can order the vehicle with a limited-slip differential and the brand's FE3 magnetic adaptive suspension system, both of which are thoroughly excellent.  The Cadillac isn't intended to offer sports car precision on the daily drive, but it certainly rewards enthusiastic pilots with better-than-average reflexes.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Flying Low

A lighter Cadillac isn't just a more nimble Cadillac - it's a quicker one, too.  Aiding and abetting the 2015 ATS Coupe's flight reflex is the elimination of the ATS sedan's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine from the drivetrain line-up and the installation of a beefed-up version of the brand's 2.0-liter turbocharged four as standard equipment.  The turbo now develops 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of twist, with the latter figure representing an additional 35 lb-ft over what was available in the four-door ATS the previous model year.  You also get the choice between a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic gearbox with the turbo unit (although selecting all-wheel drive makes the ATS Coupe auto-only), in a paean to enthusiasts seeking to row their own.  In truth both gearboxes are well-matched to the motor, and you'll see 60-mph from a standing start in just 5.6 seconds with the loud pedal flattened.

When I say "loud pedal" I mean it, as the ATS Coupe's turbocharged engine is a bit less refined than I would like it to be - at least sonically - in the upper registers of its rev range.  Enter the optional 3.6-liter V-6, a motor that forgoes the manual tranny but swaps in a pleasing mechanical roar as it surges confidently off the line and delivers a more muscular tone from the car's twin tailpipes to boot.  321 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of twist are the official numbers for the six-cylinder ATS Coupe, and while it might not feel significantly faster than its turbo sibling it does feature a more immediate personality and a playful willingness to blip the throttle and tilt forward at a rapid pace when you pull back on the left-side steering wheel-mounted paddle shifter.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Welcoming Environment

Luxury coupes are all about the first two positions, which is certainly the case with the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe.  The four-door edition of the ATS wasn't particularly gifted in passenger room department for anyone stuck in the back row, and the coupe continues this trend by matching the sedan's legroom while chopping nearly two inches off of the amount of headroom offered to either rear seat occupant.  It's not a make-or-break feature for the Cadillac, since anyone hunting for an entry-level coupe is well aware of their reduced practicality, but it's something to keep in mind if you have plans to fit a child seat back there.

Moving on to the good stuff (and there's a lot of it), the Cadillac ATS Coupe's interior fit and finish are world-class, particularly in the upgraded red-and-black leather cockpits found in the two testers I drive.  Cadillac has made an effort to minimize the use of materials that only appear premium in favor of installing the real thing - aluminum, wood, carbon fiber, and of course the swanky animal hides - and it shows beautifully inside the car. 

This old-world attention to detail is contrasted by the high level of technology that has been grafted into the ATS Coupe's cabin.  Cadillac's CUE interface still dominates the center stack, with its somewhat unresponsive obsidian touch surfaces and LCD screen inviting both praise and invectives depending on what exactly you are trying to accomplish (navigation: easy, changing radio stations: surprisingly complex).  Push a button and the entire faceplate lifts up like an Alpine deck to reveal a cubbyhole where you can conceal your mobile phone while simultaneously wirelessly charging it - as long as its on the Qi compatibility list, which my Nexus 5 is (sorry Apple fans, you'll have to use a special case to take advantage of this feature).  The ATS Coupe also benefits from the availability of GM's new 4G LTE wireless Internet hotspot technology, which worked fairly well during my journey along the shore of Lake Ontario despite occasionally spotty cell tower coverage.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

The Collision Of Emotion And Logic

The 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe walks a thin line between making an emotional appeal to drivers seeking a premium car that's enjoyable to drive and presenting a better value than many of its direct competitors.  The ATS Coupe's starting MSRP of $37,995 is roughly $2,000 less than a comparable 4 Series or A5, and while Cadillac talks tough about no longer marketing its models based on price there's no shame in admitting that the coupe presents a strong value proposition, especially for first-time buyers warned off by the hefty options sheet impact of German-built two-doors.  More to the point, however, the ATS Coupe certainly isn’t defined by its friendlier window sticker, nor by relentless comparison to a parade of European challengers.  Cadillac has built a two-door cruiser that has enough backbone and character to stand on its own and carve its own path through the luxury segment.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting


Interested in Getting a New Car?

Used Cars Near You

No Data Available

Powered by Usedcars.com
©2024 AutoWeb, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Some content provided by and under copyright by Autodata, Inc. dba Chrome Data. © 1986-2024.