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TEST DRIVE: Cadillac ATS-V Coupe

Sportscar365 Editor-in-Chief John Dagys tests the Cadillac ATS-V Coupe…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

As a millennial growing up in the ’90s, there were car brands you associated with your grandparents. Oldsmobile, Buick, Lincoln and Cadillac were some of the most luxurious cars on the market, but ones you wouldn’t necessarily have as posters plastered on your bedroom walls.

While exotics from Ferrari and Lamborghini and even American muscle from Ford, Chevy and Dodge were the favorites for many young automotive enthusiasts in America, the trend in the last ten years has changed significantly.

In 2004, Cadillac set out to change its image of being a company just for those on Social Security by launching a high-performance division called V-Series.

From the ground-pounding CTS-V to the near-$100,000 XLR-V and the STS-V Sedan, the American automaker has carved out a solid niche in its fight to take on the European mights of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi in the luxury performance coupe market.

Photo: Vincent Wouters

Photo: Vincent Wouters

Cadillac’s latest model, the ATS-V, proves to do just that, not only in performance and comfort, but also its showroom relevance to what it races on the track.

Our week-long road test with the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe was filled with interesting moments, both on the streets and off the beaten path, in what was certainly an attention-grabbing car.

Upon first glance, you could almost mistake the Velocity Red-colored road-going machine for its GT3 counterpart, the ATS-V.R, which Johnny O’Connell and Michael Cooper pilot in Pirelli World Challenge.

It features the same 3.6-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, which produces 464 horsepower and 445 foot-pounds of torque on the road.

While it’s the highest-output V6 engine in the segment and the first turbocharged V-Series model, the drivetrain feels right at home in the chassis, which has been stiffened by 25 percent for higher cornering loads.

Photo: Vincent Wouters

Photo: Vincent Wouters

On our road trip from Newark to Watkins Glen for the Fourth of July weekend IMSA event, which mostly consisted of highways, you could almost sometimes forget you were at the wheel of a high-performance, rear-wheel drive coupe.

But when it came to letting it loose on the country roads surrounding the iconic track in upstate New York, the ATS-V is a whole different animal.

With 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 189 mph, the Caddy is on par with the similarly priced BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63, but both cars are electronically limited to 155 mph, per German regulations.

The eight-speed automatic paddle-shift transmission, as equipped on this car, performed flawlessly, although the optional six-speed manual would likely be better suited for those looking to feel more connected to the car and road.

Even in touring mode, the ATS-V had plenty of grunt, and when switched to sport, took on a new level. Cadillac claims the equipped Brembo brakes have been developed for track-day performance, and felt solid in our tests, on public roads.

Photo: Vincent Wouters

Photo: Vincent Wouters

The only issue during our trip was the CUE (Cadillac User Experience) display system, which was glitchy and difficult to work with, especially in setting navigation points. It was no comparison to BMW’s iDrive, which features a handy center-console mounted controller.

However, the disappointment in the entertainment system is made up in the looks department, with the ATS-V, particularly in Velocity Red, being an eye-catcher, nearly everywhere we went. From the gas station to Watkins Glen National Park and the track itself, I never remember getting so many compliments from a press car before.

The ATS-V Coupe, however, will set you back a pretty penny if you opt for the full monty.

There’s more than $15,000 in options alone, including a $5,000 carbon fiber package, added to the base $62,665 model. Why spend nearly $80,000 for this car, where you’d be able to get a base-level Corvette Z06 for the same price?

But if money is no object, and your heart is set on a luxury performance coupe, then the ATS-V Coupe should definitely be considered, even when stacked up against the established German models in this segment.

And after getting to experience a V-Series car for the first time, my preconception about the brand has changed. If I was still 12 years old, I know one of those posters would be a Cadillac.

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Joel

    August 20, 2016 at 10:53 am

    I remember this catching my eye on Friday night in downtown Watkins Glen, very sharp looking car. Nice piece John.

  2. Preston Calvert

    August 20, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    At that price, the ATS-V competes with the Corvette, as you say, John, which is a spectacular street and track car, and also with the Mustang GT350 and GT350R (even with the latter’s present additional dealer markup). The GT350/GT350R have normally aspirated V8’s, with 525 HP, slick manual transmissions, and with the required trans and diff coolers in place, real track chops. The interiors are quite nice. The Shelbys make very exciting and fun street cars for daily use, too. As usual, the Cadillac is more of a poser as a track-capable sports car ;<). I owned a last-gen CTS-V, which was fun, but not a sports car. Nice review, though, which conveys the nature of the car very well. Thanks.

    • tracer

      August 20, 2016 at 7:39 pm

      Agreed with all of the above from Dr. Calvert. Have yet to find a caddy that gives my tried and trued e46 m3 trouble on track, including the latest model of ats-v, but can’t say the same about even (well modded) c6 vettes… Regardless the new v’s are a step in the right direction. Great write up John, as always!

  3. Dan

    August 20, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    I’m sorry but this car like it’s big brother the CTS-V makes no sense. It cost way more than it should. If you want that level of performance and comfort the German brands have you covered and they’ll be much more reliable and hold value better. When you are driving around how many people do you see driving Cadillacs who are under retirement age? In my case not many and those who aren’t are usually driving a model 10+ years old. How many people under 50 can afford a car that starts at $62K? Again not very many. If you want a high performance yet relatively cheap GM product than the Camaro with alot trim levels is a good choice. If you’ve got more to spend the base stingray is there and if you want more than that the Z06 awaits for a similar price to the Cadillac. Honestly when was the last time someone said I want a high performance sedan and I don’t want an audi, bmw or mercedes, I want a Cadillac. That is a real niche if ever there was one.

    • Alex

      October 11, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      “When was the last time someone said I want a high performance sedan and I don’t want a audi, bmw or Mercedes, I want a Cadillac”? I did six years ago and I’m saying it again. I have a 2010 6sp manual CTS-V and it’s been an absolutely stupendous and a reliable kick in the pants every time I wanted to blow the cobwebs out and otherwise an elegant and comfortable sedan. A true Jekyll and Hyde machine. The only reason I’m getting ready to sell it is because it’s getting up in years and miles.
      Even if majority of people still have such elitist views, I’m OK with it, because it makes it feel even more special driving a relatively rare vehicle that’s every bit the equal to, and frequently better than, the German brands for driving pleasure. The last thing I want to feel is that I blindly followed the herd. Moreover, good luck with reliability and maintenance costs on a German car, and especially a high performance one, vs the Cadillac 🙂

      • Dan

        January 21, 2017 at 11:12 am

        Its not elitist its common sense. Ive had an Audi and Merc C63 AMG for years and they have never had any issues while a friend who bought a CTS-V had nothing but problems with it. He was then dumb enough to buy a ATS-V, again nothing but problems with it AND the costs were astronomical due to the cars rarity. As Preston Calvert noted its a poser car. If you want to be different for the sake of being different have fun with that. I have a suspicion the reason your getting rid of the car is not due to age but due to upkeep costs.

  4. Crapwagon is classless

    August 20, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    The crapwagon losers are so classless that they are glad that John Cooper is dead.

    I think that crapwagon should apologize, but since they don’t have the class to do so, I’ll apologize for them.

    On behalf of the misery fanboys, I’d like to apologize to Mr. Cooper, his family, the motorsports community, and the Internet for crapwagon’s two-decades long lies of misery. Their favorite racing league died off twice and obviously they aren’t handling it very well.

    • Larry

      August 21, 2016 at 12:19 pm

      What are you going on about?

  5. Jim

    August 21, 2016 at 4:14 am

    The irony of this is that those crybabies are the ones talking about having class all the time.

    Oh a lesson in having class from the guttersnipes who hide in the sewer flinging their own shitballs at the people who actually have the guts to try in the arena of life.

    Thanks for the laugh you bitter old losers!

    • Larry

      August 21, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      You too. What are you two going on about?

  6. tracer

    August 21, 2016 at 8:55 am

    What’s with the crapwagon talk? Must have missed a juicy comments section lol

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