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2015 Cadillac ATS Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2015 Cadillac ATS Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

The Pinnacles Highway, California 146 leading to the Pinnacles Wilderness, is a warped and narrow road weaving around grass-green hills where, on one recent day, there's nary another car on tap to hinder a flat-out romp in the new Cadillac 2015 ATS Coupe.

The 2-door ATS Coupe is essentially a sleek variation of Cadillac's sporty 4-door ATS Sedan although the new coupe borrows only a few exterior components from the sedan (hood and headlamps plus some front fascia trim pieces), yet scores two of the sedan's three powertrain options.

ATS in 2-door coupe configuration has a 109.3-inch wheelbase with a wheel track width of 60.3 inches in front and 61.7 inches in back, an overall length of 186.3 inches, width of 72.5 inches and a rooftop height of 54.8 inches. Its passenger compartment -- with 2 + 2 seating -- comprises 83.9 cubic feet with 10.4 cubic feet for trunk volume, which places the coupe in the EPA's compact class.

By comparison, ATS in 4-door sedan format has the same 109.3-inch wheelbase but wheel track widths are 0.8 inches less. The sedan's overall length is curbed to 182.8 inches, with body width of 71.1 inches and the roofline rising 1.1 inches higher. ATS Sedan -- with 2 + 3 seating -- has a cabin volume of 90.9 cubic feet and the same size of trunk.

The ATS Coupe has a rigid rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform and sturdy unibody structure with pliable independent suspension components tuned by Cadillac on no-speed-limit race tracks, including Germany's 14-mile-long Nurburgring.

With its wide track and squatty stance for knife-edge sharp skin that ripples over wheelwells and amplifies the in-your-face prow capped by a dominant chrome-encrusted grille, the sleek 2-door ATS sportster looks like it's speeding even when parked.

Its exterior lines are bold and sharp yet clean with unique forms marked by angular shapes and crisp edgework.

The aggressive face features a prominent horizontal louver panel in modern interpretation of the Cadillac classic egg-crate grille, and piercing optics with stacked round projector beam lamps -- but on top trim grades ATS gains LED vertical light signatures plus high intensity discharge lamps that swivel in concert with the vehicle's front wheels via the Adaptive Forward Lighting device.

The roofline remains low, canting in front in line with the raked windshield and canting in back in opposing lines with blacked-out center pillars to forge a stretched trapezoidal streak of tinted window glass ringed in chrome.

In a cabin with seats for four riders the exterior theme of chiseled forms and angular features is expressed in 2-tone treatment with leatherette seat upholstery for ATS Coupe base edition but hand-cut, hand-sewn and hand-wrapped semi-aniline leather upholstery in upgraded editions.

ATS's instrument panel employs conventional analog gauges in a vivid electroluminescent display and a full-color reconfigurable head-up display.

Cadillac's electronics interface -- CUE -- appears on upgraded issues. It features a touch-sensitive 8-inch display in the center stack and steering wheel tabs to control climate, audio, phone and optional navigation functions with finger touching, swiping and pinching movements as used with tablets and smartphones.

Cadillac constructs the 2015 ATS Coupe with two high-tech powertrain choices and four trim levels:  Standard, Luxury, Performance, and Premium.

Standard plant for the ATS Coupe is a 2.0-liter in-line-4 with turbocharger. It runs up to 272 hp at 5500 rpm with torque of 295 lb-ft at 3000-4600 rpm. The turbo engine links to a standard 6-speed automatic (HM6L45) or optional 6-speed manual gearbox (TR3160).

Optional engine for the ATS Coupe is a 3.6-liter V6 which makes 321 hp at 6800 rpm plus torque peaking to 275 lb-ft at 4800 rpm. Shifter is the HM6L45 6-speed automatic.

Note also that electronically controlled all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction is available with each powertrain.

Disc brakes for the ATS Coupe include Brembo calipers on all trim grades. Brakes tie to an anti-lock brake system and traction control system plus StabiliTrak vehicle skid controls.

Cadillac posts MSRPs starting at $37,995 for ATS 2.0L RWD Standard. Top trim ATS 3.6L AWD Premium goes to $51,435.