My father loves big American cars. He always has. I often wondered if it was a generational thing or even a “man” thing. Whenever I’d bring home a larger American car he’d get all puffed up and declare that, yes, that was what a car should feel like on the road (read: float-y, large, comfortable to the point of disassociation).
So, when I got behind the wheel of the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe Performance, I anticipated not only a positive reaction from my dad but the same land-yacht experience I’ve come to associate with big American vehicles.
Well, such was not the case.
Performance is no lie
My particular Cadillac ATS Coupe was a Performance Collection model, which meant it came equipped with a fabulous (and optional) 3.6L V6 that produced 321 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, controlled via a 6-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control.
And while I normally would have harped on about the fantastic standard rear-wheel drive setup for extra sportiness, my tester actually sported an AWD system (hence the ATS4 badge on the back), which I was more than grateful for as the snow continued to fall throughout the week.
While a base car with the 2.0L turbo may seem like the more appealing option (lighter, manual gearbox, spool…), once you get behind the wheel of the 3.6L V6 and hear that engine grumble and growl to life when pushed, you’ll forget all about blow-offs and smaller displacement.
American muscle needs just that: muscle.
Land-yacht be gone
While the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe Performance is a good-size car with grand features and a very masculine demeanor, it’s thankfully not float-y and disconnected. Instead, the ATS Coupe offers superb sport-tuned, 4-wheel independent suspension that really works to keep the occupants comfortable, but also help the ATS Coupe handle whatever corner you throw it into with style.
And while I did find the steering vague at times, that might have only been due to the winter rubber my ATS4 Coupe was sporting, as well as the slippery, less-than-ideal road conditions. Another jaunt behind the wheel in warmer months would likely reveal precise, on-point steering to compliment the sharp (but not harsh or unpleasant) suspension and eager-to-please engine.
While I had the option of shifting through my own gears with the 6-speed autobox, I let the Caddy do all the work as the system is well mapped and optimized for a sporty and dynamic time on the road.
I love the look of a well designed coupe, and the Cadillac ATS is just such a car. Strong, solid angles make this vehicle stand out on the road. Linear LED headlights and a sophisticated overall look ensure this car gets noticed no matter where it goes. The elimination of two doors doesn’t so much change the size of the Cadillac ATS Coupe as it does its stance, making it seem taught, sprung, and ready to pounce forward.
That’s all fine and dandy from a curbside standpoint, but living with a Cadillac ATS Coupe is a whole other kettle of fish.
There are few elements found on today’s cars that have me stopping to scratch my head and wonder why on earth engineers let such things slip, but I managed to find one on the Cadillac ATS Coupe: the front seatbelts. Instead of being attached to the floor and doorsills or even the B-pillars, they are attached to the bottom of the front seats. So, when you want to get in and out of the back seat you are faced with a seatbelt barrier that you either have to climb over or under. Inevitably your leg or arm gets caught and it’s just not a pleasant situation. Add winter boots/jackets/a toddler you need to strap into the back and it’s downright obnoxious.
And while I normally have plenty of room to slip into the backseat with my son and hunch over him to strap him in, the Cadillac ATS Coupe was just too snug for me, and I know I’ve not put on that much winter flub…
CUE the music
I know a lot of journalists who poo-poo the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) system, but I’m not one of them. I quite like it simply based on the fact that if you only want to do a few things with it, it will let you. It’s intuitive enough that surface users will get along fine with it. Sure, if you delve into every single little thing CUE can do for you (60 available favourite presets, smartphone app integration, SMS text-messaging read-back, etc.), it can get kind of dicey and complicated.
However, when it comes to generic navigation usage and maybe only 10-12 favourite music stations stored, and a single iPhone hookup, the system is pretty rockin’. I love the gesture recognition and the haptic feedback as it makes interaction while on the move that much easier.
Worth the big dollars for a big American car?
With a starting price of just over $52,000 (before you add the bells and whistles you’ll surely want to), this isn’t a cheap ride. Of course, the available all-wheel drive makes it a viable option for us Northern folk who see snow for half the year and want to stay safe on the roads, however, there are sportier (and cheaper) AWD options out there that are also more practical in the end.
My father will always have an affinity for big American cars. His generation grew up with the mentality that coming home with a Caddy crest on your hood meant you’d made it, and I think that mentality is often what keeps Cadillac afloat and in driveways across the nation. For those with that mindset, the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe Performance will not disappoint.