2017 Cadillac ATS Driving Impressions

It’s a good thing that different wheels and tires are available, because the ride is just stiff and feeds enough back that you might want to take a test drive to find the ride that suits you. Adjustable dampers are available, but the ride might not be better than standard with them.

The 272 horsepower from the 2.0 turbo in the ATS is more than the four-cylinder turbos in the Mercedes C300 or BMW 328i. It accelerates to sixty mph in less than six seconds, punching above its weight class. It’s agile, eager, and quick to comply.

The direct-injection 3.6-liter V6 is super-smooth and powerful. It makes the ATS a long-legged cruiser. The 8-speed automatic is seamless.

With either engine, the chassis offers composure, confidence, and precision. The ZF electric power steering contributes much to that, a nice light touch in Normal mode. Sport made makes it firmer but not quicker; we like that the steering ratio isn’t variable, it makes the car more predictable. In the dynamic department, the ATS smokes the field, except for the BMW, which it matches.

The available FE3 sport suspension uses dampers with magnetically charged fluid that vary their stiffness depending on road surface. GM’s Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) came from the Corvette, and continues to flatten the road. However the standard ATS suspension balances cornering and ride well, even with the wider 18-inch wheels and tires, (Brembo brakes come with them).

The ATS-V is a monster V6, with 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque, thanks to twin-turbocharging the 3.6 liters. It’s rear-wheel drive. The electronic limited-slip differential keeps the power at optimum balance between the rear wheels. The paddle-shifting 8-speed automatic is poised on the track, thanks to its sophistication. The Performance Traction Management stability and traction control system is adjustable.

The ATS-V is remarkably easy to drive, with an alive feel that some rivals lack. It was developed at the challenging Nurburgring, a benchmark circuit that’s a surefire signal that a manufacturer is serious about handling. It’s also in the backyard of BMW and Mercedes, a place where Cadillac does not fear to tread.

The body is very stiff, braced at the shock towers, rockers, subframe and engine bay. Huge Brembo brakes, to bring you down from an easy 120. It gets a bit squirmy, thanks to 3700 pounds of curb weight pushing on relatively narrow 255 front tires.

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