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2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe is Compact but Large in Excitement

A slopping front hood and fenders accentuate the big bold grille and trademark Cadillac headlamps.
A slopping front hood and fenders accentuate the big bold grille and trademark Cadillac headlamps.
Ron Moorhead

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

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Cadillac’s mid-sized sporty sedan, the ATS entered the market with accolades from the automotive press as well as buyers. This sporty four-door continues to be a favorite selection among younger drivers. With that kind of enthusiastic interest it makes perfect sense that Cadillac would design a coupe version.

Low, Wide and Sleek, the ATS Coupe is sporty, fun and luxurious.
Ron Moorhead

I can now say, following a day of driving the ATS Coupe through the hills and valleys of Connecticut that the Cadillac folks made the correct move and executed the project with the attention deemed appropriate. With the two engine choices and the wide range of features offered by this coupe it will attract a whole lot of folks into the Cadillac fold. Read that as younger buyers. This is especially true if they are remotely interested in a sporty luxurious coupe that has the panache and the mettle to make driving exciting yet lavish.

One of the biggest indicators that the Cadillac folks are serious about attracting young enthusiasts is the mere fact that they have made available a six speed manual transmission. In this day it seems incongruous for a luxury car company to offer a manual trans. But, in a showing that they are serious about Cadillac competing with the best European auto companies a 6-speed manual was a must. Even though it will no doubt account for less than one percent of sales, it’s an attitude and Cadillac is bent on establishing that attitude.

The new ATS may be based on the sedan but the comparison ends there. This coupe is its own automobile. The roof sits 1-inch lower than the sedan with a steeper raked windscreen and has what may seem to have a wider track than the numbers indicate. The view of the rear of the ATS Coupe made us think they miss-stated the increased track, 10mm in front and 20mm. You get the sense that these numbers certainly must be much larger than reported. The car sits low and has the muscular shoulders making a strong presence on the road.

This athletic stance is accentuated in front by the large horizontal grille and contoured hood and aggressive bumper and air dam anchored by the strong Cadillac lighting. No matter if this car is approaching or departing it has the presentation that makes a strong impression.

Two brawny power plants are offered, both of which are impressive for different reasons. The base ATS is anything but base, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a turbo that spools up quite quickly and you get the full response of the increased torque. With 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque the 2.0-liter will impress more than a hand full of drivers.

Moving up to the V-6 engine gets you into horsepower numbers of 321 while giving up a little in the torque department at 275 lb-ft. The power curve is smoothly linear as you tip into the throttle and there is no want for more power. Well, as car guys and gals there is always a want for more power. Always!

The automatic transmission has good close ratios to make you know you have the capability to handily merge into traffic or have fun on the twisties of your favorite country road. Manual mode complete with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters (a must for all automatic transmissions these days) give the choice of gear selection back to the driver where it belongs.

Thankfully the suspension system has the right stuff to allow the car to dance through those aforementioned twisties. Initial suspension is a conventional strut in front with multi-link in the rear which was quite impressive in all aspects of my drive, comfortable when needed and taut when pushed hard. Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control variable suspension is an option which raises the level of capabilities in both handling and ride comfort. Touch the switch on the center console and you toggle from touring levels to sport suspension that is noticeably stiffer in the corners. Of course, the nearly perfect 50/50 front to rear weight distribution helps the handling substantially.

Driving models outfitted with each engine and with different options I must admit I am more than happy to say I am impressed by the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Cadillac engineers would no doubt hope that I would say the V-6 is the smoothest running engine, which indeed it is quite smooth, but the minor differences I saw in the 2.0-liter engine are negligible. Throughout the automotive industry there is a move toward smaller engines with boosted power. This has helped create some fantastic power plants and this Cadillac ATS has two that have risen to the top of the hill.