2017 Cadillac ATS Coupé Premium Luxury review

There aren’t many small luxury coupés that stand out as much as the ATS. For the 2017 model year, Cadillac gives it a few tweaks to ensure it’s at the top of its game
By Imran Malik, Features Writer
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January 27, 2017
The ATS Coupé may be the style icon in Cadillac’s line-up, but it has the go to match the show too
The ATS Coupé may be the style icon in Cadillac’s line-up, but it has the go to match the show too(1/8)
Photos: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
Photos: Stefan Lindeque/ANM(2/8)
The Coupé gets a wider track than the saloon, making it more fun to drive
The Coupé gets a wider track than the saloon, making it more fun to drive(3/8)
Photos: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
Photos: Stefan Lindeque/ANM(4/8)
Photos: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
Photos: Stefan Lindeque/ANM(5/8)
The driver-focused interior is loaded with tech not to mention high-quality materials such as semi-aniline leather and carbon fibre
The driver-focused interior is loaded with tech not to mention high-quality materials such as semi-aniline leather and carbon fibre(6/8)
The 3.6-litre V6 is rated at 335 horses and is a very smooth and refined performer
The 3.6-litre V6 is rated at 335 horses and is a very smooth and refined performer(7/8)
Photos: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
Photos: Stefan Lindeque/ANM(8/8)

When you think of Cadillac, I bet cars from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies spring to mind. They drew on influences such as the Jet Age and have been indelibly sketched in our psyche because they were so outlandishly gorgeous. Those classics looked like they could have been launched into outer space, what with those huge tailfins, fake jet exhaust pods and afterburner-style dual taillight tips. Everyone wanted to be seen in these chrome-laden land yachts back then — but General Motors had a harder time in the preceding decades to get buyers into its premium brand. The cars from the Eighties, Nineties and early Noughties were largely forgettable (the only decent one was the 1992 Seville...), but it’ll have an easier time getting Generation Z to fall for the legendary crest thanks to current models that are considered as flashy as those Eldorados and DeVilles, such as CT6, XT5 and ATS. And for 2017, GM has refined the coupé version of the latter to keep it on the coattails of the Germans.

This year, it’s the options that have been shuffled around in the four trims available (ATS, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Premium performance) and the good news is that whichever ATS you buy, it’ll come with the CUE system and 12-speaker Bose audio as standard. And the Luxury trim sees the addition of the Cold Weather package — which gets you heated front seats and steering wheel — as standard equipment too.

Our tester, the Premium Luxury, is loaded with goodies such as a 3.6-litre V6, a luxurious cabin and a host of technological appointments. Starting with the motor, packing 335 horsepower and 386Nm of torque, it isn’t just a potent performer — it also packs a cylinder deactivation system and stop-start technology to help improve fuel economy by nearly 10 per cent compared to the previous V6. But, although the engine has star appeal, it’s the eight-speed automatic that accompanies it that steals the thunder. The sound it makes as it shifts cogs is akin to that of loading a shot-gun and then when you hammer the throttle with Sport mode engaged, bang! It explodes into life. With all the power sent to the limited-slip rear diff, the Coupé proves brilliant fun to manhandle. With razor-sharp handling, a composed chassis and a precise electric steering offering good feedback, this is one coupé that’s sure to live long in the memory.

Even without the Magnetic Ride Control, the ATS Coupé still handles with aplomb when you’re on it and then doubles up as a buttery smooth boulevard cruiser when you just want to relax.

This one also gets 18in premium polished forged-aluminium wheels, bold exterior lighting (it has high-intensity discharge headlights, light-emitting diode vertical light signature elements, and steering-directed adaptive forward lighting) and illuminating door handles that provide a warm glow in the dark, rounding off the edgy exterior. It’s available in two new colours this year, Bronze Dune and Silver Coast Metallic. The driver-focused interior, which looks resplendent with the mauve leather and carbon fibre trim adds 14-way driver and 12-way passenger performance seats, magnesium paddle shifters, alloy sport pedals and a standard sunroof. 

Our tester, the Premium Luxury, is loaded with goodies such as a 3.6-litre V6, a luxurious cabin and a host of technological appointments.

As for safety, it features advanced tech that includes radars, cameras and ultrasonic sensors, which combine to help prevent accidents. Some of the highlights include forward collision alert, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind zone alert and rear cross-traffic alert. It also has an Advanced Security Package, which includes a new remote locking fuel filler door, shielded theft-deterrent alarm system, vehicle inclination sensor, steering column lock and locking wheel lugs. That’s all good to know, but the real joy of this coupé is in its performance.

The lightweight architecture and finely tuned chassis gives the ATS Coupé loads of agility around the corners. With a nearly perfect 50:50 weight distribution, a wide front track and a low centre of gravity, this car breeds more confidence in you the harder you push it. And it’s good to know it packs Brembo brakes in case you need to bring proceedings to a sudden halt. Most of its rivals hail from Germany but even though the new C-Class, the 4 Series and the A5 are exceedingly good, this one still manages to stand out in that impressive crowd.

This is a comfortable, stylish and impressive all-around driver’s car that easily competes with the best of Europe. If you’re on the hunt for a compact luxury coupé, then this ought to feature very high on your shortlist. Fifty years from now when we think about models by Cadillac, it might just be the one that appears in the forefront of our minds.

Specs and rating

Model:ATS Coupé Premium Luxury

Engine:3.6-litre V6

Transmission:Eight-speed auto, RWD

Max power:335bhp @ 6,800rpm

Max torque:386Nm @ 5,300rpm

Top speed:NA

0-100kph:NA

Length:4,663mm

Width:1,841mm

Height:1,391mm

Wheelbase:2,776mm

Weight:1,600kg

On sale:Now

Highs:Elegant exterior, smart cabin, solid performance

Lows:Difficult to get into the back seat