Cadillac ATS-V Review – Making America Great Again

The ATS-V packs a ton of power at an incredible value. But how does it stack up against it's German competition?
By Ben Jackson   April 9, 2017 8:38 pm GMT-0700

Cadillac-ATS-V_01Since making its arrival in 2012, the Cadillac ATS was seen as a solid entry to the Cadillac lineup. With a price tag well below the CTS (albeit sacrificing both power and size), the ATS seemed to round out Cadillac’s new brand identity. No longer wanting to be known as the old man’s luxury cruiser, Cadillac has continued to expand its footprint into more nimble, sporty sedans (or coupes, depending on how many doors you prefer).

As expected, Cadillac then quickly debuted a V-series trim for the ATS, similar to the CTS-V before it. And shame on you if you’re considering an ATS with anything other than the V emblem on the back. The ATS-V is something pretty special.

Why did Cadillac make the ATS?

It’s no secret that Germany has long-dominated the sports sedan arena for quite some time. The ATS-V represents another one of General Motors’ answers to Germany’s dominance in the luxury sports car segment.

Rest assured, while the ATS-V is still in its infancy and expectedly playing catch-up to the BMW M and Audi S types of the world, the ATS-V is no slouch. Cadillac truly has a beast of a machine here.

What’s under the hood?

In a word – firepower.

The ATS-V packs 464 horsepower into a Twin-Turbo engine that produces 445 lb.-ft of torque, capable of launching you all the way up to a top speed of 189mph.. This engine is designed for power, and acceleration. If for some reason 0-60 times are still your thing, the ATS-V can get up to 60 in just 3.8 seconds. Not bad at all.

Cadillac-ATS-V_04ATS-V Against The World

How does the ATS stack up against the competition?

Keep in mind the obvious here – the ATS-V isn’t designed to compete with the M5 or S6 – Cadillac has the CTS-V for that. Instead, the ATS-V goes head-to-head with the slightly smaller German machines; it’s in the same class as the BMW M3 and Mercedes AMG C63. Let’s do a quick, high-level comparison of it’s closest competition:

Cadillac ATS-V
Mercedes AMG C63
Lexus RC F Sport

464 hp

425-444 hp

476 hp

467 hp

0-60 Time
3.8 seconds
3.8 seconds
3.9 seconds
4.3 seconds
Top Speed
189 mph
163 mph
180 mph
171 mph

What stands out to you? This really should be a clear indication that Cadillac wasn’t messing around when they devised the ATS-V. From a top speed perspective, the ATS destroys the competition, and it’s not even particularly close. Granted, should you be driving a sports sedan 189mph anywhere except the track? Of course not. But for $5,000 less than the C63 and $4,000 less than the M3, you’re theoretically capable of beating them around the track.

For me, the key takeaway is that you can basically get the same level of performance in the ATS-V as you can with any of its foreign competitors, and at a cheaper price. Again, let’s think realistically here though. If you’re considering a gas-hungry, horsepower heavy, track-crushing sports sedan, are you likely to be factoring in the difference between $60 and $65 when making your decision? I suppose it’s possible, but let’s be honest – no, no you’re not. So ultimately, you’ll decide on which brand you prefer. It’s hard to argue that BMW has owned this category, with an almost cult-like following for anything BMW slaps an “M” on. There’s no denying that the M3 is hard to beat. I guess what I’m saying is, Cadillac isn’t planning on conceding anytime soon.

What’s on the inside?

Cadillac-ATS-V-Interior_06Just like the exterior, interior is also well thought-out and represents General Motors brand stamp. A properly cut and sewn interior add to an overall extra crisp feel. Having owned a late-model CTS, I can confidently say that each and every interior piece feels luxurious – again, as you’d expect when dropping more than $60,000 on a vehicle. In the interest of fairness though, we will say that the back seats are a little small for this class. It’s not meant to, that’s why you have the CTS and CT6. Another reason why you’ll have to make the choice between…

Two doors or four?

You’ll have to figure this one out for yourself. Are you driving the family around in your track-ready sports sedan? Then the four-door ATS-V sedan seems appropriate.


If you don’t yet know the joy of kids and aren’t hauling around anything in your backseat (of if the ATS-V is your “summer car”) then get the ATS-V coupe. It just looks better.

The 2017 ATS-V Carbon Black Sedan

The ideal trim, if you can swing it. Available in both the Sedan and Coupe, the Carbon Black Package adds a black chrome grille, dark wheels, and Carbon Fiber in both the front and back, as well as on the hood vent.

Of course it’ll cost you a little bit extra- $7,800 to be exact. You’ll still come in under $70,000 if that’s your goal – which honestly, why cut costs at this point? If you want your already mean-looking ATS-V to look downright aggressive, the Carbon Black package is a good place to start. I mean just look at her – she’s stunning.

Cadillac-ATS-V_02Does the world want the ATS-V?

Building a monster capable of competing with the M3’s of the world is great and all, but are people buying this car? Well sadly, a recent report suggests that the answer might be “probably not”. ATS deliveries in January 2017 were down 8.7% to just 947 units. That clearly doesn’t bode well for a model designed to compete with the Germans.

Then there’s the other recent news out of GM that indicated their new XT5 crossover sales are outsold their sedans in March. Cadillac sold 5,280 units of their new XT5, compared to just 4,701 of their entire sedan lineup – including the CTS, ATS, and CT5. Combined!

Should those figures shock you though? Hard to say really. Maybe not – while not a direct comparison, Lamborghini is on the record stating that they expect their recently announced Urus SUV to double the sales of their entire supercar lineup. But then again, Lamborghini doesn’t sell sedans under $50,000.. and Cadillac does. Write your own storyline for that one I suppose.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an everyday luxury machine capable of hitting the track in stride, the ATS-V should be on your shopping short-list. Cadillac has crafted something here that really does compete with its German-counterparts. American-made never sounded so good.


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