Cadillac's attempts to build an entry-level luxury sedan have frequently been snubbed by critics and largely ignored by customers. But the ATS is nothing like the Cimarrons and Cateras of the past. Designed squarely to beat the BMW 3 Series at its own game, the ATS Sedan and Coupe are lithe world-class handlers with finely finished interior and the latest in in-car and active safety technology. They prove that America can run with the finest sports sedans and coupes from around the world.
For 2017, the sedan drops its base level engine. We doubt the 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder will be missed; its 202 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque may have been competitive with the base engines in the BMW 3 Series, but the motor was largely unloved.
Standard on all ATS Coupes and Sedans is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder which produces an impressive 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, paired to either an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. The latter is only available when ordered with rear-wheel drive.
One rung up is a V6 engine. Fully redesigned and launched last year, the 3.6-litre engine is on the large size for this class, and runs counter to its rivals by opting for natural aspiration. Cylinder deactivation is standard, though, and helps cut back the six cylinder’s thirst for fuel under light loads. Total power is a healthy 333 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic is standard on both rear- and all-wheel-drive cars.
Other changes for 2017 include a revised instrument cluster with new graphics, new 17-inch wheel designs, an optional V-series rear spoiler, plus yet another upgrade to the CUE touchscreen infotainment system. This year's update includes Android Auto capability, the Collection app organization system, and the Teen Driver setup first featured in the Chevrolet Malibu. Vehicles equipped with the Driver Awareness and Driver Assist packages also get a Following Distance Indicator graphic, which shows how closely a driver is following vehicles in front.
Last, but certainly not least, two new premium paint finishes, Silver Moonlight Metallic, and Dune Bronze Metallic have joined the options list, as has a new interior colour scheme that pairs Light Neutral upholstery with Jet Black accents.
The ATS is on the tight side of the compact luxury car segment with less rear legroom and trunk space than some rivals. The coupe is also short on rear headroom due to its swoopy roofline. That said, ATS is a joy to drive; communicative, well-weighted steering and available magnetic dampers give it a ride that’s taut yet smooth whatever the road condition.