2016 Cadillac ATS Coupe review notes: Best-looking luxury coupe


The ATS Coupe is the right size, looks good and drives as playfully as the sedan

ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I love the look of the ATS. It looks like what a child would draw if you told them pen a kickass, slab-sided coupe. The hood and trunk have just-right proportions and overhangs. I’m not sold on this Cadillac red/wine color, but the wheels look great and the wheel wells are small.

Inside, it’s a little hit and miss. I think it looks great — a decent mix of sporty and luxury cues. The feel is where the problem comes in, especially on the armrests, which are pretty hard. My elbows were banging even on my short commute home. The upper dash looks nice, and is well cut and sewed, but it’s hard to the touch all the way around. The center console is symmetric, though, which my OCD mind needs to feel comfortable. The back seat, like in any coupe, is a little tight — too tight for a 6’1” lunch colleague.

Power from the 3.6-liter V6 is good, plenty to push around this semi-lightweight. Thrust is strong right from the start and shifts from the eight-speed are extremely smooth. The paddles aren’t lightning quick, but they hold gears to redline, and are of some use getting on the expressway. The engine/trans combo is quiet, though, which led me to leave the car in fifth for the majority of my commute without even knowing. There is a bit of road and wind noise, more than I expected.

The pedal setup wasn’t quite right for me. It felt like I was sitting at an angle to the car. At one point I used my hand to support my knee while braking. Maybe it’s too far left? The brake also has a few inches of travel before any good bite — that annoys me, personally — but it probably helps with the smoothness of driving.

The 3-Series feels and sounds more sporty, even though it’s down on power. The C-Class is far more luxurious, but slower. Sure, there might only be 10 people who take any of these cars to the track, but I’d like to think the ATS could outfox both of them at a real circuit.

Speaking of those competitors, the ATS is about $1,500 less than the C-Class and about $3,800 less than the base 3-Series, so the value is definitely there. It might be the best-looking out of those three, too.

Photo: 2016 Cadillac ATS Coupe Photo 4

The ATS Coupe 3.6L V6 is rated at 333 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque. Shown here is the 2015 model, which is visually identical to the 2016 model. Photo by Cadillac

EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Impressive. I like the ATS sedan and I like this lovely coupe, too. It’s the right size, looks good inside and out, has nice proportions and drives as playfully as the sedan — a good thing.

Personally, I prefer the 2.0-liter turbo four, but the outstanding ATS chassis is here — stiff, the right suspension damping, and that light-on-its-feet feeling I remember from the sedan. It’s fun to throw around, and reacts quickly to steering and throttle inputs. I’d argue the ATS remains one of the more dialed-in feeling cars on the market.

I don’t know what Cadillac did to the 2016 ATS’ V6 compared to the ’15, but this one feels much smoother, and the power is there for sure.

The interior looks good, as does the quality therein — I think this is about as nice an interior out there, aside from maybe the Mercedes C-Class. I thought the CUE system worked well here. Might be my imagination, but I found myself being able to control the radio and heat/vent etc. easily this time around. Maybe it’s been improved? Whatever, felt better than I remember.

I don’t really understand why the ATS doesn’t sell better. Ditto the CTS. So far in ’15, ATS sales are off by about 3,800 cars. The 3-Series just blows this thing away. Keep in mind though, BMW is throwing some $$$ on the 3-Series’ hood while Cadillac, for better or worse, is trying to hold the line on incentives. Meanwhile, the CTS is down a whopping 7,700. Both fine cars — I don’t get it, though I have a couple theories: 1.) Crossovers rule at the moment, not passenger cars; and 2.) Cadillac is new(ish) to the small-car game, BMW isn’t.  

Overall, Cadillac sales are down 4,000 this year. If it weren’t for the Escalade ESV and the SRX, Cadillac would REALLY be in the toilet.

The ATS deserves to sell better.

Photo: 2016 Cadillac ATS Coupe Photo 5

The ATS Coupe 3.6L V6 is rated at 333 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque. Shown here is the 2015 model, which is visually identical to the 2016 model. Photo by Cadillac

ASSOCIATE EDITOR WESLEY WREN: I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this 3.6-liter-powered coupe as much as I did, but it really surprised me.

The driving experience was where this car really thrives. The power comes on early and moves the car along as quickly as you’d ever need it (outside of a track, at least). Though, I think that the lack of insane power (this little Cadillac coupe comes in at around 330 hp), is why the car is so much fun to drive. It has just enough power to make the car feel powerful, but not enough to spin itself around or blow the tires off.

The things I didn’t like about the car may be a little trite, but for something hovering around 50 grand, I think they’re warranted. The interior was a little sparse. I liked it, but it didn’t really seem up the level of what the average Cadillac buyer would want. The materials didn’t feel as soft as I think a Cadillac’s surfaces should. The dash seemed a little hard and plasticky, at least to me, and the seats were neither comfortable nor racy enough for me to overlook it.

The infotainment system was a pleasure to use, and featured Apple CarPlay — which for whatever reason gave me more trouble in this car than the Corvette we tested the system out with. I couldn’t find the button in the infotainment system to launch CarPlay, so I had to rely on it auto booting. Well, sometimes it does not auto boot, which effectively makes it not have CarPlay. Of course, that isn’t a huge problem, because the normal Cadillac infotainment software was more than adequate.

The thing that I liked the least was the auto stop/start. There is a button to kill this feature, which is great, because I can’t wrap my mind around shutting a car off at every stoplight.

Overall, this car was a blast to drive, the interior was sporty but not really what I think “Cadillac” should be, and the Apple CarPlay worked when it wanted. Still a large step ahead of where the company was just a few years ago.

Photo: 2016 Cadillac ATS Coupe Photo 12

The ATS Coupe 3.6L V6 is rated at 333 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque. Shown here is the 2015 model, which is visually identical to the 2016 model. Photo by Cadillac

Options: Driver assist package including adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic braking, auto safety belt tightening for the front driver and passenger and electric park brake ($2,540); power sunroof ($1,050); red obsession tintcoat ($995)


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