By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.2
Cadillac’s 2016 ATS-V is the most powerful version of the ATS compact-luxury sports car, and the latest addition to the V-Series performance line. Like the standard ATS, the V-Series variant is available as a 5-passenger sedan or 4-passenger coupe and is meant to woo younger, affluent buyers who might otherwise consider a BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 or Lexus IS. But with its $60,000-plus starting price and track-ready performance, the 464-horsepower ATS-V represents the lineup's halo car, similar to the M variants from BMW, and Mercedes' AMG powerhouses. The all-new ATS-V can match or beat its German competitors in performance but still lacks their name recognition and reputation.
If you've been craving an American alternative to high-powered European sports cars, the ATS-V is happy to answer the call. Boasting 464 horsepower, an available manual transmission and interior refinement, the V-Series version of the ATS coupe and sedan is thrilling on a track and compliant amid the daily commute.
While Cadillac is doing an admirable job repositioning itself from a builder of stodgy barges to a younger, performance-oriented luxury brand, newer models such as the ATS still don't have the recognition of rivals like the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 ATS-V is an all-new model in the ATS lineup and the newest member of Cadillac's V-Series of high-performance cars. Though based on the ATS sedan and coupe, the ATS-V distinguishes itself with a bevy of go-fast parts, more aggressive design and significantly stiffer body structure.
Let's cut to the chase and answer The Big Question: Yes, the ATS-V is as good – and sometimes better – than the BMW M3. With 464 horsepower, the Caddy...
... packs 39 more ponies than the Bavarian benchmark. That grants 3.8-second 0-60-mph blasts, a tick quicker than the BMW. With a top speed of 189 mph, the ATS-V also trumps the M's 156-mph limit. On a track, the ATS-V is thrilling. Whereas past V-Series models could be brutes, the new ATS-V is a finely balanced performer whose engine, transmission and adjustable magnetic suspension allow average drivers to look good and great ones to appear awesome. In real-world driving we give ATS-V the edge, at least in automatic-transmission form. Whereas the BMW's 7-speed dual clutch can feel rough, the ATS-V's 8-speed is silky-smooth. As a daily driver the ATS-V can be stiff, but its overall experience is more livable than the Bimmer's.
OH, THAT ENGINE
The ATS-V's heart is a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6, and wow can it pump. This is the first use of a twin-turbo in a V-Series Cadillac, and they chose the right one. The engine's power is impressive, but more so is the way it's delivered – smooth yet voracious with no lag.
In addition to the benefit of saving you two grand over the optional automatic, the standard-issue 6-speed manual has a secret: no-lift shifting. This allows you to keep your foot planted on the accelerator as you operate the clutch pedal and gear shifter. With practice, it means quicker shifts.
Not surprisingly, the ATS-V's interior is similar to that of the standard model, but loaded with features. Sedans seat five passengers, while the coupes seat four (rear-seat legroom is tight in both). Cadillac's smallest performance car also boasts niceties such as a power-adjustable steering wheel and an 8-inch CUE command screen. The latter uses haptic feedback, which sends a tiny vibration to acknowledge it's received your input. CUE isn't perfect, but it's better than some other systems out there. Rear visibility, especially in the coupe, is compromised from the ATS-V's sloping roof; we suggest ordering yours with blind-spot monitoring.
The all-new ATS-V is noticeably more muscular and sportier than the already-svelte ATS sedan and coupe. To achieve a 50/50 weight balance, the ATS-V's hood is made from pricey but lightweight carbon fiber. Also prominent is an air extractor to help dissipate heat from the engine bay. Aerodynamic bits such as a front splitter, side body panels and rear spoiler help keep the car planted at high velocities and distinguish it from the standard ATS-V. Rounding out every ATS-V are quad tailpipe outlets and 18-inch forged aluminum wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport specifically made for the this model.
The ATS-V comes well-equipped in sedan or coupe form with a Bose premium audio system, wireless phone-charging dock, embedded Wi-Fi with 4G LTE and GM's OnStar connectivity system, dual-zone climate control, rearview camera with front and rear parking sensors, and carbon-fiber interior trim. Standard performance enhancements include a magnetic ride-control suspension, Brembo brakes, and a 5-mode traction-management system with launch control for the best possible off-the-line acceleration.
Among the more popular ways to equip the Caddy ATS-V are an 8-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters and remote vehicle start, navigation system, split-folding rear seats for extra cargo space and a color head-up display. Safety features include alerts for blind zones and inadvertent lane departure, and forward-collision alert. Recaro front seats with 16-way adjustment are available. A Performance Data Recorder similar to what's used on the latest Corvette records video, audio and driving data onto an SD card for later viewing on the CUE display screen or a computer. It's ostensibly made for recording your performance on a track.
All 2016 Cadillac ATS-V models use a superb 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 that also does duty in the
Cadillac CTS Vsport
midsize sedan. In this model, however, it produces more power: 464 ponies, a number that came in even above Cadillac's original estimate for the ATS-V. As we've mentioned, that horsepower figure handily trumps the 425 put out by the 3.0-liter turbo-6 used in the BMW M3, and is only five less than that of the new 4.0-liter turbo V8 in the latest Mercedes AMG C63. The ATS-V's power is transmitted via a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission or optional Hydra-Matic 8-speed automatic. All ATS-V models are rear-wheel drive, and premium unleaded is the recommended fuel.
3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V6
464 horsepower @ 5,850 rpm
445 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg (manual), 16/24 mpg (automatic)
With a starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $61,460 for an ATS-V sedan, the V-Series line of Cadillac's compact- luxury car begins nearly $30,000 beyond the base price of a standard ATS. Coupe variants of this high-performance Caddy start a few thousand beyond that at $63,660. With options, the 2016 ATS-V can easily reach the mid-$70,000 mark and, fully loaded, crest $80,000. At its starting price, the ATS-V sedan is just a few hundred shy of the BMW M3, and a couple of thousand less than the Mercedes-Benz AMG C63. To find out what others in your area are paying for the ATS-V, check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price. Since the ATS-V is all-new, residual value is difficult to predict, but the resale value of the ATS line in general has lagged those of its rivals.