ATS-V: Cadillac’s Finally Cracked It, Partly.

….says Car and Driver. Not naming. I had to keep the name of the car in front of my face so as to remember it. But they have finally made a car with real dynamic credentials. But does it have to look like a Chevrolet Cruze with aftermarket accessories? 

2015 Cadillac ATS-V. Image: car and driver
2015 Cadillac ATS-V. Image: car and driver

I recommend you read C&D’s review of the car to get the full insight on the engineering efforts Cadillac have made to produce this car. I am impressed by C&D’s own dedication to reporting the work and showing images to explain it. It’s a fine bit of automotive journalism. Try this: ” large aluminum shear plate ties the front subframe to the body structure for increased rigidity. Right: The twin-turbocharged LF4 engine keeps plumbing runs short with liquid-to-air intercoolers straddling the throttle body and exhaust manifolds integrated into the cylinder heads.” And they show an image of the car’s underbody. Not sexy but enlightening.

The ATS-V’s engine is a 3.5 litre twin turbo V6, and that’s not the one going into the upcoming large Cadillac CT-6. C&D conclude by saying “The ATS-V marks the culmination of Cadillac’s concerted efforts to redefine the brand as a leader in driving dynamics and per­form­ance. Amid an increasingly competent product range, the ATS-V still stands out as the one astonishing success that manages to pull the whole enterprise together. From a brand that has been closing in on excellence for years, the ATS-V shines as the single star that can guide the rest of the lineup. At least until the CTS-V arrives.”

My problem is that Cadillac’s styling is more Chevrolet Cruze or Pontiac G60 than it ought to be for this price and class of car. I think that what might make this an even more convincing attempt at being a first-class car is to let the engineering and the performance figures speak for themselves.

The over-detailed grille and bumper plus the plain, chromeless sideglass do not live up to Cadillac’s aspirations to be seen to be as good as Mercedes or Jaguar. What would be more intelligent would be to offer the V´s mechanicals in a less aggressive body. Not everyone wants to shout about their car’s performance.

Here’s the standard car:

2015 Cadillac ATS in its standard guise. Image: 2016automotive.com
2015 Cadillac ATS in its standard guise. Image: 2016automotive.com

That’s a fair interpretation of a modern Cadillac. The brightwork is nicely applied (at least in a photo – I have not seen it in the metal) and the front treatment is eye-catching but not overdone. The semantics of high-performance cars are about efficiency and dynamics which is why the chrome of the standard car is ripped off or blacked out. And dynamics demand side skirts.

The sum total of this is to make a very expensive car look a bit too aftermarket. Cadillac need to find a way to signal performance in a way more appropriate to their brand.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

6 thoughts on “ATS-V: Cadillac’s Finally Cracked It, Partly.”

  1. I have long been of the opinion that American motor journalism knocks its British counterpart into a cocked hat. A comparison of Car and Driver with the selfstyled World’s Best Car Magazine, Car Magazine, bears that out. Even the news stories in Car and Driver are written with a knowledge, wit and clarity that Car can only sporadically muster.

  2. I think you might have sold two subscriptions for C&D there Chris. Many, many years ago, I subscribed to both magazines, and they were both well matched. From the odd internet article I’ve read, it’s obvious that C&D have not fallen in the sad way that TWBCM has.

  3. I think you´ll find their on-line content is remarkably good. I like a good clear description of engineering, despite my interest in the aesthetic side of things. C&D does that whereas Car magazine has given up on this. Those attempts they do make to bring in the greasy bits are written without much feel for the material. It wasn´t always like that. In the 90s I built up a good ground knowledge of car engineering through Car´s articles. And that was the time they had record sales.

  4. I first chanced across a copy of Car and Driver in Atlanta Airport whilst waiting for a connecting flight to Kentucky. It had excellent photos and a good mix of news and long reads, so I picked up a copy in case I finished my subscriber’s copies of Car and Evo. In those days I regarded all three magazines as being on a par, but these days I would argue that Car and Driver is superior to both.

    At the time of my trip, like most Europeans I regarded American cars as being dross. That copy of Car and Driver (plus the trip as a whole) reminded me that the judgement criteria are often wildly divergent between the two continents. It certainly made me regret my choice of a Mitsubishi Lancer hire car, especially when I realised it lacked cruise control or adequate width for my elbows.

  5. I’m offering thanks for putting me onto Car and Driver online, not sure SWMBO would agree nor the dogs who are peering sideways at me with that fed up and we need to chase rabbits and then stuff lamb bones down our necks expression.

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