Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: August 31, 2016
The ATS-V is Cadillac’s first real pursuit of the sport-coupe kings, mainly the BMW M4 and on paper, it looks like it’s got what it takes: a 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 engine delivering 464-hp, a rear-wheel drive setup with Magnetic Ride Control from a Corvette, and it’s got carbon fibre everywhere from the front lip spoiler to the new front hood. It also comes with a manual transmission that dishes out neat tricks like launch control, rev matching, no-lift shift – I could go on and on but fact of the matter is, things are looking good for the V.
So have the Americans finally found an answer to the offerings from Bavaria? Well let’s first take a look at the price. The ATS-V is available in both a Sedan ($66,000) and Coupe ($68,305), just like the BMW, and they both cost significantly less than the M3 ($75,000) and M4 ($76,000). Great, so it’s cheaper and got more value. What about the looks?
Well have you seen this thing? It looks as if somebody had the bright idea to mesh together the face of a testosterone-filled Corvette Z06 with the body of a hormonal ATS – and we love it. The ATS-V has got to be one of the most menacing looking coupes in its segment. The new carbon fibre hood with appropriate V-shaped vents not only look cool, but they also serve a purpose by extracting hot air from the engine and reducing lift. Designers have also slapped on a more aggressive front splitter and aerokit, along with 18-inch forged aluminum wheels, quad exhaust tips, and a rear spoiler to finish off the full V treatment.
Draped in a sparkling Crystal White Tricoat ($1,145), the resulting proportions and bodylines are sensational. Yes, looks are subjective, but this is one design that will force the Germans to finally check their rear view mirror.
While the Caddy’s interior doesn’t feel as upmarket as the M4, it is still a wonderful place to spend time in. It won’t convert current Euro coupe customers with its abundant use of thin plastic, but the remaining panels feel rich, creamy, and appease to the senses. The concave steering wheel isn’t bound for any awards, but in V-spec it gets bulked up with an extensive use of leather, while a nice little V badge sits at the bottom to remind the driver that this is no regular Cadillac.
With automatic models, magnesium paddle shifters flank the wheel and feel expensive, but they sit a little too far away from your fingers, meaning small-handed drivers might have a bit of trouble reaching them.
Leather seats come standard, but if there is one must-have option on the list, it is the Recaro Performance Seats ($2,645). They aren’t just drool-worthy pretty, but are also incredibly supportive without being punishing on long trips. They also include holes for a five-point harness.
So the sheetmetal is fantastic but the interior is a mixed bag – what about arguably the most important aspect, the driving experience? Well under the hood, Cadillac has borrowed the 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 from the CTS V-Sport and tuned it up with added titanium rods, a forged crankshaft, a new intake manifold, and tweaked turbos and wastegates to bump up the maximum boost to 18 psi.
And while typical American cars will resort to bigger engines for more power, the ATS-V goes down a different path. Though it seems there is enough room under the hood to fit the old CTS-V’s supercharged V8 engine, alas, emission restrictions remain.
The silver lining here is that the ATS-V produces an eye-gouging 464-hp and 445 lb-ft of torque, numbers that are not only higher than the BMW M4, but nearing V8-equipped rivals like the Lexus RC F and Mercedes-AMG C63. To put this power into perspective, note that the ATS-V goes from 0-100 km/h faster than a Corvette Stingray in a matter of 3.9 seconds.
Power delivery from the V is linear, and they’ve reworked the CTS V-Sport engine brilliantly because I barely feel any turbo lag off the line. There isn’t as much fluidity or character as a straight-six, and it’s not a high-rpm M3 screamer either, but the force-fed ATS-V chugs along to its redline like a freight train on rails.
The brakes are good too – the ATS-V gets fat six-piston Brembos in front and four-piston in the rear, the same ones used in the 2014 CTS-V (that’s a good thing). That means huge stopping power, good amounts of grip from the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, and not much travel to get them biting.
But that’s not all Cadillac has done. The ATS-V’s underlying structure has been beefed up and reinforced with extra bracing, contributing to a 25% greater structural stiffness than the non V-spec models. Combined with a newly developed rear diff and Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) from the Corvette, and the ATS-V rides like a world-class sports car.
It has better on-road manners than its BMW counterpart – the suspension is soft, complaint, and that MRC is such a game changer. On city streets it is civil, well mannered, and doesn’t show many signs of track potential. Straight-line antics might disappoint, but find a road that is technically demanding and its stars will shine.
The chassis comes alive, the car feels natural, the steering weights up nicely, and it handles the way you want it to – like an extension of your arm. You know it’s a serious contender when the audacious traction control button is mounted right on the damn steering wheel.
Though it tips the scales at 1,725 kg (100 kg more than the DCT-equipped M4), its nose is eager to point. The tail likes to swing out, but it’s predictable and darn fun to drive – you’ll have no trouble finessing this dancing partner via its electrically assisted steering rack.
And this is one area where it towers above the M4 – the steering. Communicative and offering ample amounts of feedback, you can learn to trust the palpating vibes coming through your fingertips and be able to push the wheels accordingly via its two-way hotline. It doesn’t feel as lifeless or as inorganic as the blunt-hammer M4, and with traction just an arm’s length away, this well-engineered American tucks in and genuinely shines on backroads.
Your experience may differ however depending on which transmission you choose. There are two of them: a 6-speed manual and an 8-speed automatic, the latter of which is borrowed straight from the Corvette ($2,345 option). There are perks to both sides of the equation: the manual comes with a feature called No Lift Shift that lets you clutch in and change gears without letting your foot off the throttle. This avoids boost pressure loss and helps shave a few seconds off a hotlap.
It also receives auto rev-matching, whereby the engine will rev up to the correct RPMs while you downshift, eliminating the need for heel-and-toe techniques. It also comes with a handy feature called Launch Control, allowing you to zip off the line with minimal wheel spin and maximum traction, and is also found on the 8-speed automatic.
After testing out both – and I may sound like a broken record here – but I’d stick with the manual. While the auto is smart and does a good job reading the road and selecting the right gears, shifts are slow and lazily respond to paddle shift commands. Normally, putting it into “Auto” will resolve that issue, but even in its sportiest “Track” setting, the perplexing 8-speed races to the top gear without juicing every ounce of power. The manual be more work and marginally consume more fuel, but it gives you the freedom of gear selection and neat little features that will undoubtedly pay dividends on the track.
However if there is one area where the ATS-V pales in comparison with the M4, it is in the sound department. Aren’t all V-Series cars supposed to be loud, brash, and pompous? Just listen to the new CTS-V with its supercharged V8. The ATS-V on the other hand doesn’t resonate nearly as well as the straight-six from the M4 or the howling V8 from the RC F.
It may be a powerhouse of an engine, but there’s barely any auditory climax to back it all up. Noise is one of those senses that make a huge difference in emotional buys in this sports coupe segment, and the ATS-V doesn’t quite tick the box. Sure you can hear the turbo whooshes and wastegate flutters from the outside, but in general it just sounds like an asthmatic V8 that forget to take its daily dose of Flovent. On the bright side, there’s nothing that a straight pipe or an aftermarket exhaust can’t fix. It’s a minor issue, but one that can plague the experience if you plan on keeping it stock.
Driving a sporty Cadillac that could match up to the BMW M4 was something I never thought would be possible in my lifetime. The ATS-V handles better, but it just doesn’t deliver enough character and charisma to topple the Bimmer off the podium.
Think of the ATS-V as a surgeon’s scalpel – it looks menacingly sharp, it’s precise, accurate, and you know it will always get the job done, but in essence as a standalone item, it doesn’t give much sense of theatre. Think of the M4 on the other hand as a machete – you’re busy hacking away and while you don’t really know which artery you’re slicing, you look pretty damn cool using it. And that’s where these two cars differ.
The ATS-V feels more purpose-built, a serious car with dual personalities offering Cadillac comfort on the road and Corvette performance on the track, where as BMW made a few sacrifices to offer a slightly inferior driving experience, but one that stirs the soul and drives the emotion.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Cadillac’s new M-fighter. While it may not be the total package, it’s one giant step for the brand, and it finally gives us a viable alternative to the ubiquitous European coupes. So how exactly do you revive a struggling brand to challenge the best the world has to offer? Ask Cadillac. Give them a few more years and they will have this in the bag.
型号 Model: 2016 Cadillac ATS-V
顏色 Paint Type: Crystal White Tricoat
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $68,305
試車售價 Price as Tested: $87,070
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,776
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,691 / 1,841 / 1,384
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,725
引擎 Engine: 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 464 hp @ 5,850 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 445 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson Independent with Magnetic Ride Control
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Independent five-link with Magnetic Ride Control
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 14.7 / 9.8 / 12.5
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport