Cadillac Performance: 2015 ATS Sport Coupe

By Frank A. Aukofer, September 6th, 2014

Coupes and convertibles are valued more for their sex appeal than any notion of practicality -- and they enjoy the adulation of a solid cadre of buyers, some of whom would not buy anything else.

Manufacturer photo: Cadillac's all-new 2015 ATS Coupe is a quicker and more personal addition to the award-winning ATS product line
Manufacturer photo: Cadillac's all-new 2015 ATS Coupe is a quicker and more personal addition to the award-winning ATS product line

This will almost be certain with the all-new 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe, the latest model into the expanding lineup in the luxury division of General Motors. The starting price is $37,995.

The ATS is Cadillac's compact entry level model, previously available only with four doors with the ATS sedan. Now customers can gawk at the new ATS coupe, which exhibits stunning good looks.

Though being sensible is not what it's all about, the move makes sense. Cadillac's new ATS coupe is just 5 inches shorter than the discontinued CTS coupe and is within inches of its other dimensions, too. Inside, there's almost as much passenger space and the ATS actually has marginally more head room in back.

The ATS however is a compact car and its sleek lines don't allow for much rear seat comfort. Anyone over about 5 feet 8 inches tall will have to scrunch down, and front seat occupants will be asked to move their seats forward for the two unfortunates in back.

Manufacturer photo: Cadillac's all-new 2015 ATS Coupe is a quicker and more personal addition to the award-winning ATS product line

But rear seat relaxation is not what coupes are all about. They deliver personality, flamboyance and romance to owners who may experience little or wish to enhance what they have. This the new ATS does unabashedly.

Though styling appreciation is in the eyes of the beholder, the ATS attracts nearly universal assent. It sandpapers some of the edgy design of other Cadillac cars for a slightly softer, yet still distinctive appearance. Coming or going, or from any angle, it dazzles.

Crawl inside and the wow impression continues. Buffed wood accents, soft leather on supportive front seats, instruments easy to read and controls easy to find, though real buttons and knobs to replace some of the counter-intuitive and distracting touch controls would be appreciated.

The ATS is the first to use a new version of General Motors' OnStar communications system. It uses 4G LTE connectivity to envelop the car in a rolling WiFi hotspot, with all that implies for information, navigation and entertainment. It also offers wireless charging of smartphones as part of Cadillac's CUE connectivity.

The base engine is a 272 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder -- a type that is becoming ubiquitous around the globe. You can find similar designs at Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, among others, at which the Caddy ATS Coupe is aimed.

Manufacturer photo: Cadillac's all-new 2015 ATS Coupe is a quicker and more personal addition to the award-winning ATS product line

On the rear-wheel-drive test car, the engine was linked to a six-speed manual gearbox, which by itself validates the street credibility of the ATS. It also works well -- a bit stiff in execution but positive and intuitive in operation, especially because the clutch engagement lacks any grabby obstinacy.

If you must, a six-speed automatic with manual shift capability is available at no extra cost. And if you absolutely need that kick in the kidneys off the line, you can opt for Cadillac's 321-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine with the six-speed automatic.

Unless it's part of the aura you desire, however, it is not needed. The turbo four banger is way more than adequate to any task on the public roads, and it delivers an estimated 21/31 mpg on the EPA's city/highway fuel consumption cycles.

With a 51/49 front/rear weight distribution, the ATS delivers balanced handling around curves with either engine. It also tracks cleanly in a straight line, with fine feel from the electric power steering. All-wheel drive is available for buyers in nasty weather areas.

The tested ATS was the Performance version with a base price of $45,930. With a few options including navigation and the CUE system, the bottom line sticker came to $48,555. It compares credibly to BMW's 4 Series and surely will attract coupe disciples.

Specifications

Base price $45,930 (as tested: $48,855)
Curb weight 3,418 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Epa mileage rating 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 16.0 gal.
Horsepower (net) 272 at 5500 rpm
Motor type turbocharged 4-cyl. w/DI
Overall length 183.6 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 295 at 3000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 2+2-passenger RWD compact coupe
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