Ten years ago Cadillacs were clearly inferior to those from Germany and Asia, but now, they are on a par in terms of performance, quality and style.
Unfortunately, the revival seems to have stalled, at least in terms of consumer interest. Overall sales for the luxury brand are down 2.3% from a year-ago. That might sound like a miniscule number, but it’s those same two models that drove up sales last year that are faltering today; ATS sales have decreased by 20%, while the XTS is 21%.
Surprisingly, GM’s isn’t sweating bullets about this turn of events. It believes the downfall isn’t due to the automaker’s image issue. Instead, company reps blame the fact that luxury car buyers are fickle; they want the latest thing, and are willing to pay for it. And Cadillac hasn’t really done anything new since 2012 (excluding the pricey ELR), when it unveiled the ATS Sedan.
Enter the all-new 2015 ATS Coupe, due out later this month. It’s Cadillac’s answer to the question: “What have you done for me lately?”
Starting at $37,995, the Coupe is – surprise, surprise – designed to compete with the best luxury sport coupes in the world, like the Audi A4 and BMW 4-Series.
More evolution than revolution, it looks like a mini-ATS Sedan from afar. Up-close and-personal, however, it is a much different car. A more aggressive car. A better looking car. A sportier car.
According to Cadillac, the only panel shared between Sedan and Coupe is the aluminum hood. Everything else is “different.”
Underneath that gussied up body lurks the same global platform as the Sedan, which makes the car similar, but not identical, in almost every way. The Coupe rides on the same 109-inch wheelbase as the Sedan.
Like its sibling, the Coupe is packed with a wide array of driver assists, including blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, front and rear collision alerts, and cross traffic monitoring to warn you of an oncoming car when you're backing out of a parking spot, as well as a standard rear-view camera.
The Coupe will be offered in four trim levels (standard, luxury, sport and premium) with a choice of either a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 3.6-liter V-6. The four-cylinder is available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 gets only the six-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional for either engine, but matched only to the automatic transmission.
While the 3.6-liter engine is carried over unchanged (321 hp and 275 lb.-ft. torque), the 272-horse 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder has been well massaged for 2015. Torque has increased by 35 lb.-ft. over the outgoing model, from 260 to 295 lb.-ft. And improved engine programming helps smooth out response. The turbo is still heard, but not felt as much when it kicks in.
Other enhancements include the brand's first five-link independent rear suspension, an underbody aerodynamic shelf, Brembo brakes, electric variable-effort steering, and driver-adjustable performance suspension.
On the road, the Coupe’s sportier intentions are quite apparent. It feels like it wants to be driven more aggressively, just like its European counterparts.
All ATS models offer tour and sport driving modes to tweak steering effort and shift points. But in the Coupe, they also affect ride quality; Sport mode offers more road feel, while touring mode reduces the bumps and bruises considerably.
I was able to get behind the wheel of an all-wheel drive ATS 2.0T, rear-drive 3.6 with Magnetic Ride Control suspension, and rear-wheel drive 2.0T. All drove like champs.
While the stock suspension was plenty sporty, I found the cars equipped with Magnetic Ride Control to be more pleasurable to drive. In Touring you get a comfortable, somewhat floaty but controlled ride.
I didn’t find much difference between the engines in terms of performance. The V-6 does have better throttle response than the turbo and sounds more forceful.
When all was said and done, this is one car that I can say truly lives up to the hype. And the one Caddy that I can definitely see attracting a younger audience.