Today I want to bring an American car to your attention that might just be capable of teaching the rest of the world a thing or two about making an exciting entry-level luxury car. The car I’m referring to is the new Cadillac ATS.
This model doesn’t replace an existing model in Cadillac’s line-up, this is just a new entry-level model, and it was designed for just one purpose in life, to take sales away from the BMW 3-series.
So, the ATS is roughly the same size as the 3-series, and in Canada will be available with three engine options, just like the 3-series. The three engines in question are: a base 2.5-liter, four-cylinder motor that produces 202 hp, a 2.0-liter, turbo charged four cylinder that produces 272 hp, and a 3.6-liter, V6 that produces 321 hp.
At a recent press event that took us from the lovely new Four Season’s hotel in downtown Toronto to the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formerly known as Mosport) in Bowmanville, On., I got to drive all three models, and I was surprisingly most impressed by the base car. 202 hp felt good enough to move this 1503-kg car, and this motor has plenty of low-end torque also, so you do have plenty of get-up and go from the traffic lights. Even on the highway, the base motor felt smooth and responsive. I loved it. However, the base motor is only available in rear-wheel drive form. If you want all-wheel drive, you have to jump to either the 2.0-liter Turbo or the V6 motor.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Turbo model is also the only model that can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox (only with rear wheel drive though), while all others get a six-speed automatic. The automatic transmission has been reworked from previous Cadillac models and now offers much faster and crisper shifts, especially in Sport mode. However, BMW is offering a very quick shifting eight-speed automatic at the moment, which does give them an edge in this department for the time being.
For most people however, it would make no difference how many gears their transmission has, as long as the car feels smooth and quick. The ATS accomplishes that very effectively. It proved to be an exceptionally comfortable car on the road, and blew me away with its handling on the race track.
In the past, GM has missed their mark on many occasions. They would come out with a new car that is not as good as a competitor’s existing cars. For instance, the old Buick Allure wasn’t very alluring and the new Chevrolet Malibu gives me the blues. With the ATS, they got their thinking caps on the right way and have produced a product that is truly worth buying.
I will get into more details about the ATS on a later date, after I spend a week with one, but for now, I will say, this product is worth your consideration. It has just gone on sale and pricing starts at $35,195 for the 2.5, $35,490 for the Turbo (with manual) and $43,935 for the V6 model.
If you’re skeptical as to how good the ATS really is, just take one for a test drive and then write to me.