Conventional wisdom holds that if Cadillac is to make inroads against the German competitors it has to lower its prices. However, new Cadillac boss, Johan de Nysschen, says the way to success is to not discount, but offer a product that is commensurate with the asking price-a strategy he employed in building up Audi in America by pushing back against similar calls to cut sticker prices. A recent drive in the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe put that theory to test.

As the coupe version in the ATS model lineup, this 2-door Caddy's nearest competitor is the 2014 BMW 4 Series, the renamed two portal version of the benchmark 3-Series. Both the ATS Coupe and the 4 Series carry base prices in the upper $40,000 range (our ATS test car stickered at $47,095 and topped out at $50,980 including a few options and delivery). On paper, the ATS and 4 Series are similarly equipped with 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, the edge going to the Cadillac with 272 horsepower to the BMW's 240. But the BMW has the advantage of an 8-speed transmission versus the ATS' 6-speed automatic.

Lively performance

As we noted in our expert review of the 4 Series, buyers will not be disappointed in the performance of the 4-banger, and the same is true of the ATS. This closely coupled coupe has the performance of a V6 while delivering 21 mpg city and 31 mpg on the highway. With 295 lb ft of torque on tap, passing or merging is a breeze. The ATS feels spirited and nimble thanks to ZF electric-assist power steering that feels well-connected to the road. Available in either rear- or all-wheel drive the ATS offers BMW-level of sportiness with its finely tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels and standard Brembo performance brakes.

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For those who blanch at a $50,000 sticker for an entry-level Cadillac, one only needs to sit inside the 2015 ATS Coupe to decide whether or not it's worth the money. The handcrafted cut and sewn interior that blends both leather and suede on the doors and dash, as well as the open pore wood accents are the first indication that you are truly getting you're money's worth. The supportive 12-way adjustable driver's seat is clad in supple leather, as is the steering wheel and shift knob. The interior has the bespoke quality that's associated with cars costing twice as much, further enhanced by the optional $1,295 Kona brown leather seats, armrests and center console offset with Piano black accents. Although the interior looks modern, especially the haptic touch surfaces employed by the CUE system. I've still not warmed to the use of these controls and would prefer more traditional buttons or at least some sort of controller to toggle through the options on the touchscreen.

As for the exterior look, Cadillac has hit a homer with its Art & Science design theme, continually refining it to be evocative and distinctive rather than off-putting. And I like the more conventional treatment of the rear window with a defined trunk rather than the steeply raked backlight used on both the CTS and ELR coupes. It gives the car a slightly more traditional appearance without compromising the edginess of the design. The only other thing I'd change is to pass on the optional Black Diamond Tricoat, this metallic black has a bit too much bling for my tastes. If the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe is evidence of the direction de Nysschen is taking Cadillac, then the only advice we have is stay the course.

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