Fun Stuff

Depreciation Appreciation: Prices Dropping for the Enthusiast’s Favourite Cadillac

Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your pals at dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used car deal.

This time around, we’re talking about the Cadillac ATS – and specifically, a rare but sought-after version of the ATS that came configured in a way that many driving enthusiasts love: with a turbo engine, six-speed manual transmission, and rear-wheel drive.

The Sticky

Standard with a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, the ATS in this configuration turned out 270 standard horsepower, backed by up to 295 lb-ft of torque. The latter figure bests the output of the ATS’s available V6 engine, though the lighter four-cylinder turbo enables improvements in the vehicle’s power-to-weight ratio, as well as steering feel and response, thanks to a reduction in weight over the front axle.

All units equipped with the manual transmission were rear-wheel drive, and no AWD / manual combination was possible.

Most shoppers in this segment prefer AWD (and even more prefer an automatic transmission), which might be why the used pricing of a manual-equipped, rear-drive ATS is becoming so appealing.

Look for this driveline combination in ATS coupe and sedan configurations, and expect to be impressed with the handling and powertrain. The manual shifter boasts a silky-smooth shift action, a heavy and solid shifter, and a progressive clutch boasting fantastic engagement feel.

With 50/50 weight distribution and an available factory FE3 performance chassis calibration, the car feels sharp, light, and eager to please. The FE3 package includes Magnetic Ride Control shock absorbers, which help enable all of that handling prowess with minimal compromise to ride quality. If you live in a locale with rougher roads, this suspension system can be considered a must-have.

A high-performance engine cooling system, mechanical limited-slip differential, and high-performance tires were also included.

Other features may include navigation, a sunroof, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, premium audio provisions, performance lighting, power memory leather seats, and more.

If you’re after something upscale, comfy, relatively easy on fuel, and mischievously fun to drive, an ATS 2.0T manual is very worthy of your attention.

Approximate New Value

New pricing varied widely depending on the body style and equipment packaging in question, though an ATS with 2.0L turbo engine and some goodies was, for all intents and purposes, about a $50,000 car.

Approximate Used Value

Nearly unfair resale values make this machine a great pick for the right shopper, as units like this very low-mileage 2015 coupe are on offer for under $29,000. Here’s another unit, just a year old, with reasonable miles, listed for $26,000.

Shoppers accepting of a few more kilometres on the clock can consider units like this for under $20,000 all day long.

Note that selection is not abundant on ATS models with the manual transmission. If you’re interested, shop patiently, and check the listings often.

Test Drive Tips

Your first step towards ownership of a trouble-free used ATS is to contact your local Cadillac dealership, speak to a service advisor, and make arrangements for a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) by a professional technician. This inspection is the single best way to avoid buying a used car that could be concealing pricey problems.

Having the vehicle’s battery tested and replaced at the first sign of trouble can go a long way toward fending off potentially annoying electronic malfunctions across various vehicle systems, and ensuring that all available software updates have been applied can work towards the same goal. Ask a service advisor at a Cadillac dealer for more information.

Some owners have used a performance-enhancing chip or “tune” to turn up power from the ATS’s turbo engine. Many have not. Note that such upgrades can, in some situations, damage the engine. Damage caused by non-factory parts or electronics is not covered by warranty. The gist? Most shoppers are best to avoid a model that’s not factory-stock.

Some owners have complained about the ATS’s run-flat tires, which may reduce ride quality on rough surfaces and be susceptible to damage from rough roads and potholes. Inspect the inner and outer sidewalls of each tire, running your hand over the circumference to check for cracks, bubbles or lumps. If any are detected, the tire should be replaced immediately. Check for wheel damage, too.

Test the engine’s idle while parked, with the air conditioner running on maximum. Some owners have complained of an intrusive vibration or shudder in this situation, which may be remedied with a software update to the engine management electronics.

Finally, have a mechanic check the rear differential seals, axle seals, shock absorbers, and front engine cover for signs of problematic fuel leakage.

The Verdict

This version of the ATS is something of an oddball in a marketplace where most want AWD and automatic transmissions. Still, for the enthusiast driver, it’s a heck of a deal on an authentic luxury performance experience with all the toys, a solid-looking driveline, upscale features, and appealing pricing.