Prior to the launch of the Cadillac ATS, GM’s first entry into the compact luxury segment already faced formidable competition. The BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class were long-established as industry leaders and even credible offerings from Audi, Infiniti and Lexus were perceived as also-rans.
Introduced to the market in 2012, the ATS sedan immediately met with industry accolades. Lauded for its nimble handling and agility, the car captured the 2013 Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) award for Best New Luxury Car and the North American Car of the Year award at the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The 2015 ATS coupe shares the majority of its DNA with its four door sibling. Noteworthy powertrain exceptions include lack of availability of the sedan’s 2.5L naturally- aspirated base engine and a 13% boost in torque from 260 lb·ft to 295 lb·ft. for the 2.0L I-4 turbocharged mill. The venerable 3.6L V6 remains unchanged.
On the outside, the coupe features a wider track, a distinctive front fascia and unique sheetmetal for the roof, doors, fenders and trunk. The grille also eschews the traditional Cadillac brand emblem for the larger wreathless crest introduced in the Elmiraj concept.
Inside the ATS coupe, the CUE infotainment system adds support for text message alerts and OnStar now features 4G LTE WiFi hotspot connectivity. A DockSpot wireless phone charging system is also optionally available.
As the ATS coupe is derived from the sedan, it naturally inherits both its shortcomings and strengths.
Frequently derided as cumbersome and needlessly complex, the CUE interface has been refined to increase its responsiveness. However, our biggest apprehension remains the same: the vibrant 8″ LCD touch screen can be tedious to operate and distracting. While its proximity sensing and haptic feedback features are impressive, we’d gladly forego the gee whiz factor for the analog switchgear offered elsewhere in GM’s MyLink solution. It’s not that CUE is particularly bad it’s just that it prioritizes form over function. A few dials would remedy this situation.
The ATS coupe will also be less compelling for drivers looking for a general purpose vehicle. Owing largely to its compact configuration, headroom and legroom are limited and seating in the rear will prove claustrophobic for all but the most diminutive passengers. Storage space is also constrained, with only 10.4 cubic feet of available trunk space. This will be sufficient for a set of golf clubs or a few bags or groceries but less than ideal for long distance journeys.
Setting these quibbles aside, the ATS coupe excels as a luxury class performance vehicle.
From a design standpoint, the ATS coupe remains visually consistent with the sedan, offering a toned down interpretation of the Arts & Science design language. While we appreciated the refined presence, those looking for a more imposing stance will need to hold off until the ATS-V is available.
On the insise, the quality of materials within the cabin is excellent, with a nicely balanced mix of soft touch surfaces, chrome and carbon fiber. The dual cockpit layout offers a sporty layout with compliant seating that is sufficiently bolstered. We especially liked the cool ambient accent lighting that is employed to accentuate contours.
As is the case with the sedan, handling is also superb, with engaging steering, responsive braking and cornering that confidently navigates even the most challenging twists and turns. With a 0-60 mph time of 5.6 seconds and infectious exhaust note this is simply a fun car to drive.
The ATS coupe offers a compelling option within the compact luxury segment and a worthy stablemate to the well-received sedan. We can hardly wait to take the forthcoming ATS-V for a spin.