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2014 Cadillac ATS Review: Challenge Accepted

With the release of the 2014 Cadillac ATS luxury sedan last year, and a coupe version on the way, GM is putting out a product to directly compete with premium brands (think European). And after spending some time behind the wheel, I’m convinced that things in the marketplace are going to get interesting.

The ATS retains a look that reminds people of classic Caddy, but also introduces fresh design with the long sweeping headlights stretching far back into the fenders. The large angular grill with a big crest in the center is iconic, but it incorporates hidden shutters behind that can close to reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency.

Other neat details include the avant-garde frameless rear view mirror that is new for 2014. Also new is a nice chunky leather steering wheel that comes with models equipped with paddle shifters, such as on my Luxury Collection test vehicle. Conveniently located on the wheel are several easy-access buttons and switches for cruise, voice commands, and, thankfully, audio.

Cadillac Headlamp

Cadillac Headlamp

It’s not that there is no other way to control music, but some ATS’ are equipped with the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) system that favors a touchscreen setup over conventional buttons. Now commonplace with many new cars, what isn’t controlled via the screen is done so with metal “nubs” that can sense pressure from your fingers and will lightly pulse when you’ve touched it. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes several presses to get it to do what you want, such as lower or raise the volume.

 

Cadillac Interior

Cadillac Interior

I didn’t fuss with the radio too much anyhow, as I was more concentrated on the excellent handling characteristics of the car. With available AWD, favorable weight balance and a relatively light 3,300-pound weight the ATS is tight and quick to respond to driver command. A first for Cadillac is also the introduction of five-link independent suspension, which keeps all four tires firmly planted on the road. Unfortunately, that can translate into a stiff ride over rough patches of pavement and potholes.

Consumers have a choice of a 202-horsepower, 2.5-litre engine, or one that is turbocharged with 272 hp and 2.0 L displacement in the four-cylinder configuration. There is also a 321 hp 3.6 L V6 that was in my tester rated at 11.3 L/100km city/7.1 highway fuel consumption. A smooth six-speed automatic transmission is standard with the option of a stick shift on models equipped with the turbo. Safety is covered with further accoutrements like adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, automatic braking and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Luxury trim I drove is sticker priced at $46,675 without any extra packages. As well equipped and performance-ready as any of the competitors its put out a challenge to, the question is how other marques are going to respond.

 

Article by: Benjamin Yong

Photo source: Benjamin Yong

 

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