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car review

By making the 2015 ATS Coupe lightest car in the segment Cadillac has created a nimble, fun to drive car.General Motors

This review was originally published in October, 2014. In the lead up to the Canadian International Autoshow, we will feature a number of cars that will be showcased in Toronto. The show runs Feb. 13 - 22 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

In cars, as in humans, slim, simple and pretty beat beefy, complex and homely.

So says no less an authority than the economists at the University of Texas at Austin and the product experts at Cadillac. The Texans found that beauty buys both money and happiness, hitting on the obvious by analyzing five large surveys.

At Cadillac, says product manager Scott Meldrum, "We're not going to be the heavyweights; we're going to be the lightweights." Every Cadillac should be the lightest car in the segment. A lightweight design translates into the nimble, fun-to-drive handling Caddy wants.

Eric Marshall, the brand guy for Caddy in Canada, adds that the latest reinvention of General Motors' luxury brand stands on two other pillars: "memorable design" and "engaging technologies."

I'd throw in a fourth and fifth: sweat the details and improve the sales and dealership experience overall by biting the bullet and creating a dedicated network of stand-alone Caddy dealerships right across Canada.

If Caddy is truly committed to "passionate vehicles for passionate drivers," as Marshall says, then get everything right. Alas, for 2015, the new ATS Coupe manages only to get most things right.

This sleek coupe with the bold mesh grille highlighted with the still-delightful Cadillac crest is slimmer, trimmer and a bolder design than its big rivals – the BMW 428i, Mercedes-Benz C250, Audi A5 and Infiniti Q60. It boasts more torque from a good, 2.0-litre turbocharged four (272 horsepower/295 lb-ft of torque) and it's faster from 0-100 km/h. So tick the boxes for power and beauty. (A 3.6-litre V-6 is also available.)

The CUE (Cadillac User Experience) touch-screen/voice-activated infotainment interface, the centrepiece of which is a colour screen in the centre stack, is clear and simple, but requires you to navigate through multiple screens to access commands. And the ATS suffers from flat, smallish and thinly padded front bucket seats that can be adjusted in multiple ways, though not enough to make me comfortable. Ah, but the graphics in the instrument cluster are bright and colourful. So the cabin is good, not great.

The handling and ride comfort are excellent. The car sits flat in corners, the steering is sharp, the brakes are strong and the noise levels are low at high speeds. A driver's car, though not a completely simple and comfortable one. Merely a good, but not great, premium coupe.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

You'll like this car if ... you want an exciting ride with a bold design at an appealing price versus the competition.


  • Base price: $41,240
  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder or a 3.6-litre V-6.
  • Drive: rear- or all-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 11.1 city/7.9 highway using recommended but not required premium fuel
  • Alternatives: BMW 428i, Mercedes-Benz C250, Audi A5 and Infiniti Q60, Lexus RC


  • Looks: When designers talk about balanced proportions, this is what they’re talking about. The ATS sits nicely on its wheels.
  • Interior: The visual appeal is obvious, but the details and execution need work. The CUE infotainment interface suffers from the same complexity issues common in rival systems and the seats are not comfortable.
  • Technology: We need to give Cadillac credit for loading up the ATS Coupe with everything from capless fuelling to OnStar 4G LTE connectivity that allows for a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot; Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition; text-to-voice technology; USB, auxiliary and SD memory card ports.
  • Performance: The turbo four is a delight. The grunt comes on without any grunting, just a seamless outpouring of power. Steering, braking, cornering, handling are all excellent. The 50-50 balance, Brembo front brakes, 18-inch aluminum wheels and optional all-wheel drive are the start of the performance pluses.
  • Cargo: You kidding me? The trunk is tiny and the opening is envelope-thin.

The Verdict


The dynamics and exterior design are winners, but Caddy needs to sweat some of the details.

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