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2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe Review

Lightweight engineering makes Cadillac’s new ATS Coupe a frisky driver’s car By ,

Much of the pre-launch reading material on the Cadillac ATS Sedan displayed a recurring theme: through development, each part, component and prototype was designed, built and brought to the ‘boss’ by the engineers for approval, but the boss kept sending them back with a simple demand. 

That demand? “Make it lighter”. 

The result, aimed at creating a sports sedan to give comparables from the Germans a bit of a headache, was about the lightest, most nimble and most pure driver’s cars in its segment. I remember driving that ATS Sedan on a handling course when it finally arrived, and grinning to myself. “They’ve nailed it” I thought. 

This thing felt really, really good.

What is a 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe?
Today, we’ve just received a new 2-door version called the ATS Coupe. It’s not simply a sedan with two doors removed: most of the body panels are unique, as are the wheels. The ride height is lowered, the track is widened, and chassis enhancements further up-tweak an already really seriously good driver’s car. So, ATS Coupe is similar to its 4-door brother where it counts, but more nimble, more passionate, more striking, and more personal.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe Pricing and Specs
Standard with a 2-litre turbo 4-cylinder engine packing 272 horsepower and a just-launched torque boost to 295 lb.-ft, ATS Coupe wears a $42,240 sticker with rear-wheel drive and a 6-speed stick, and $43,440 with AWD, which is available only with automatic.

There’s a 321-horsepower V6 available, with automatic only, for $2,200-- but Cadillac says it’ll only hustle the ATS Coupe from 0-100km/h a mere tenth of a second faster than the turbo-four.

Driving the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe
Goodness, it’s light. Light and agile and frisky-- especially with the compact and punchy 2.0T engine up front. 

Drivers can expect to feel that lightness, which gives ATS Coupe one of the most favorable power-to-weight ratios in its class, in a few key ways. First, in their steering inputs, which come with little to none of the typical hesitation, resistance, or sense that you’re fighting the vehicle’s mass. Instead, it turns obediently, precisely, and with a sense of eagerness typically found in tiny little sports cars. Little steering inputs are all that’s required to send the ATS Coupe flitting around even the twistiest roads with mischievousness. 

The light weight is felt when ordering up some power from the engine room via your right foot. In stark contrast to the turbo engine’s ho-hum exhaust note, a split second of lag is followed by a slam into the seatback with enough potency to question how Caddy’s going to sell any of these with the V6. Since the output has less mass to move than most competitors, the 2.0T-powered ATS feels curiously quicker than its output numbers suggest.

Light weight also means that under hard braking, ATS delivers urgent and alarming stops with power to spare, thanks to standard Brembo brakes up front. In its 4-door configuration, the ATS is capable of stopping more quickly than a comparable 3-Series, and the coupe should perform similarly.

Attributes aside from the ATS’s lean build help it appeal to driving enthusiasts, too. The 6-speed manual gear shift feels expertly weighted, thick, chunky and solid. Further, the Magnetic Ride Control system, through constant re-calibration of shock absorber properties, takes the usual compromise between sportiness and ride quality and fist-punches it in the throat. 

By continuously altering shock absorber damping based on the selected drive mode and the surface underfoot, Magnetic Ride Control enables agility without a ride like a shopping cart, and turns in a comfortable ride without handling like a glob of pancake batter. Expect more consistently-pleasing ride quality on more types of unfavorable surfaces with, no corresponding sacrifice to responsiveness. 
Wind noise levels are kept nicely hushed at speed too. Even well beyond the speed limit, there’s no need to raise your voice for a conversation. 

Inside and Out of the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe
If you’ve seen an ATS Sedan, you’ve pretty much seen an ATS Coupe. Other than a low-budget looking instrument cluster, and exterior styling that’s hard to separate from other Cadillac models (Cadillac says this is on purpose), that’s a good thing. 

Interior changes are minimal-- the doors are reconfigured and longer, the rear seats are less easily accessed though comfortable once settled into if you’re not tall, though the ATS’s glossy, metal-trimmed take on blending high-tech with high-luxury is alive and well. Outside, visual updates discreetly include a wider-looking stance, a faster-looking rake to the windshield, and a slightly shaved roof. It looks athletic, without screaming about it.

My only complaint after a quick spin were the paddle shifters-- they respond fairly quickly most of the time, but aren’t as lightning-fast to use as you’ll see in a comparable BMW or Audi.

Comparing the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe
Those cross-shopping the segment’s direct competitors can check out the BMW 4-Series, Audi A5, Mercedes C-Class Coupe and others, with the ATS boasting the highest standard power output and lowest starting price in the field. Units are arriving on dealer lots now.

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