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Old 10-20-2012, 09:48 PM
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cantona7 cantona7 is offline
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Surprising Test Drive: 2013 Cadillac ATS

Anyone else driven the ATS? On a lark, my wife and I went out looking for one to test today. It's the first time either of us has ever gotten behind the wheel of a Caddy. The dealer we went to only had automatics on the lot and we only had a choice between the 2.5 and 3.6 engines. We chose the 3.6 and mainly drove in Sport mode.

The Good

Suspension - The ATS suspension is awesome. An extremely comfortable ride without being soft. Our sales guy claims the magnetic suspension adjusts "1000 times per second" to absorb bumps. No idea if that's true, but the ride in this car is super smooth. If I had to pick, I'd say the suspension is at least as good as BMW's. The only thing that stops me declaring that it's better outright is that once I got over the initial wow factor, there were moments when I felt it a tiny bit floaty. Still, this was a very slight feeling and not at all something that called attention to itself. Open question: How expensive is this suspension to maintain???

Brakes - The Brembos in the fronts offer great stopping power. My wife had to slam on the brakes suddenly when a car jumped out in front of us. No problems at all. She's very sensitive to underperforming brakes and this little near-incident was very confidence inspiring. For me, these brakes feel and appear to perform better than the ones in the F30 335i. Downside: Brembos don't come cheap and future brake jobs will be pricey.

Cabin Noise - More precisely, the lack thereof. The cabin is very, very quiet, with little road or wind noise. In this regard, it's on par with all the F30s we've driven—and better than the 2013 Audi S4 we drove last weekend.

Handling - The ATS handles very nicely. It didn't feel overly heavy and felt very balanced. We were just on regular street roads that weren't particularly curvy, but I didn't sense it understeered. Very much a point-and-go car with one caveat...

The Bad

Steering - If there's one fatal flaw for me, it's the steering feel of the ATS. I can't imagine how any reviewer can say this car has better steering than the F30. Even in Sport, the steering is way too light. Its saving grace is that despite the light feel, the actual steering response is very accurate. Maybe this feel is something one can get used to—it certainly makes for very low-effort driving—but I personally found it annoying. Like playing/driving a video game.

Transmission - The auto is a 6 speed and was always upshifting too early. Not as fast or smooth as the implementation in the F30. When I floored the accelerator, there was a noticeable lag before the power kicked in, especially from a dead stop or very low speed roll.

Cosmetics - Ok, not a huge fan of the rear end styling and also not in love with the ultra high belt line. From the inside, the windows are tiny—particularly the rear passenger windows. If you roll the windows all the way down, I'm not sure if a super-sized soda cap will fit through it (I never order these things, but gives you an idea of a real-world object.)

Wheels - Superficial, I know. But those wheels have got to go. They look exactly like they came from GM's parts bin. Yuck. Worse, I have no idea what wheels would look good with this car.

Parking Brake - Again, pretty superficial, but I hate that it's not a hand brake. That foot pedal style is something I associate with trucks and bad American cars. Totally takes away from the "real contender" status that Caddy is trying to build with the ATS.

The Neutral

Interior - Quality of materials was actually better than I expected. The leather seats are perforated and felt pretty comfortable. Not on the same level as BMW's sport seats or Audi's, but really quite respectable. For me, nothing that really called attention to itself.

Controls - The touch-screen CUE system is interesting. I like that Cadillac is trying to innovate here. They could have stuck some existing system from the GM family in here, but they chose to give it a go. To a certain degree, I think they've succeeded. I personally don't like touch interfaces in cars because you have to take your eyes off the road to make adjustments. But there are some physical cues for the most-used controls like volume control and HVAC. The volume control is particularly cool—swipe right along a little raised ridge to turn it up, swipe left to turn it down. When you have to actually use the touch-screen for something, the icons are pretty large and bright. Downside? Fingerprints galore. Which I loathe. But I suppose someone will have some kind of screen protector like the one I had on my iPhones that will minimize print retention.

Trunk Space - Cadillac says they used the E46 as a benchmark and tried to stay as close to that ideal as possible. In terms of overall dimensions, I thin they've done a great job. But the trunk is smaller than that in my M3's. Depth is about the same, but width is most definitely narrower.

Anyways, that's about it. Sorry for the long post, but there were a lot of positive surprises for me in the way this car drove. In some ways, I actually liked it better than the S4. It's a great value in a sport sedan--our test car carried a sticker price just under $44K. I'd imagine that with some haggling, landing one at or under $40K would be pretty doable. Thanks for reading and I'd love to hear opinions from others who've driven the ATS.
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Old 10-20-2012, 10:01 PM
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justinnum1 justinnum1 is offline
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good read.
F30 328i Alpine White/coral red Msport 6MT, HK, Xenons, Msport brakes, black grills and side sills, performance exhaust
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Old 10-20-2012, 10:47 PM
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captainaudio captainaudio is offline
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I have not driven an ATS but I have driven a CTS-V. GM's magentic ride suspension technology is absoltutely state of the art. BMW should license it like Ferrari did.


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Old 10-22-2012, 06:06 AM
Michael Schott Michael Schott is offline
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Stopped at the local Cadillac dealer to look at the ATS this weekend. I didn't get a chance for a drive but sat in a 3.6 Luxury version. In person the car looks nice and compact. Smaller than I thought. The interior was well designed but seems to be more high tech than function. I liked the seats and the fit and finish.
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Old 10-22-2012, 11:15 AM
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Chris90 Chris90 is offline
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Sounds like most of these issues could be solved by an ATS-V, with sportier steering, Recaro seats, sportier appearance, and a hand brake for sharp corners.
"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice." - Cherokee Expression
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:38 PM
FLE39 FLE39 is offline
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No hand brake unless you get the V package? WTF. Huge downside for me. pedal ebrake doesn't even make sense to me other than in a F250. I seriously have issues with no hand brake in the center console. I feel naked or frantic w/out a hand brake in the console. My '89 corvette had a hand brake, on the LEFT side of the seat. What a joke. Damn 80's Miami Coke made it to Detroit's engineering facility. My wife's C300 has a foot brake. Hence why C300 is preceded by the word wife.

Did you check the headliner out? I loved the American Top Gear where they tested the CTS-V or whatever that super car is and then looked up.... headliner out of our work trucks! But seroiusly, I'm glad to see GM attempt it. Hey, the consumer wins when more show up to compete. Just makes sure BMW is not complacent. The ATS is head and sholders above the new Camaro. Uh, I was all excited then saw one in person and was looking for the ladder up to the cab. That thing's front end is about 5' tall. Not sure how you even see over it. Grose proporsions. Should of stayed on paper. Hate the camaro now. I think the new camaro is a good example of how someone is not thinking. The mustang is of normal proportions and size, belt line etc. I like the mustang just b/c of the car dimensions.

GM's solution to their issues of products: Fire everyone and hire car guys. True, wrench turning gear heads. And the guy with the high belt line design... we need to find him in a dark alley. I hate high belt lines in cars. I'm not interested in drive by's... but rather safety and visibiltiy.
DD: 2003 530i 5spd manual sport package. Conti DWS's, Llumar ATR, White LED lighting. TLC on-going.

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