The 2015 Cadillac ATS is the smallest car in this luxury brand’s lineup, a model designed to take on BMW’s 3-Series and 4-Series. Rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available; engine choices range from the competent to the powerful. The Cadillac ATS is sold in sedan and coupe body styles.
For the first time in decades, Cadillac offers a small model, the ATS coupe and sedan. With its German competitors in mind, GM’s top-shelf brand has a formidable competitor, offering four- and six-cylinder options as well as standard rear-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive.
Both the Cadillac ATS coupe and sedan advance the “Art and Science” design philosophy that is evident in other Cadillac models, particularly the CTS and ELR. A wide stance, low profile and bold chiseled lines provide an impactful look that is at once as stately as it is sporty.
At the center of the ATS’ broad grille is the updated Cadillac crest with that fascia marked by a sport headlamp assembly and distinctive as well as lengthy daytime running lights. The sedan and coupe both sport chiseled hoods, muscular shoulders and profile character lines.
The roof line is more rakish in the coupe; both models feature a short, rear deck with narrow vertical tail lamps, an elongated third brake light and a pair of exhaust tips set within a diffuser.
The Cadillac ATS has four seating positions in the coupe and five in the sedan. The sedan is best suited for transporting multiple passengers and the coupe for two people plus two more, but only in a pinch.
The ATS is entered by means of keyless entry with just a touch of a button. Slip behind the wheel, push a button, engage the transmission and you are on your way. Cadillac went all out with the ATS’ interior, offering seven distinct cut and sewn layouts outfitted with such high-end materials as brushed aluminum, dark olive ash wood, carbon fiber and leather.
Stitching is nearly everywhere — across the seating surfaces, on door inlays, on the center console and around the steering wheel.
The front bucket seats can be upgraded to performance seats with power bolsters for spirited driving. Also available are aluminum sport pedals. At the rear is a bench seat for the sedan and embedded bucket seats for the coupe.
The instrument panel features a three-analog display. To the left is the tachometer. To the upper center is the speedometer and to the right are fuel and oil gauges. At the lower center is a digital driver’s information display, including odometer and tire pressure readings.
The center stack from top to bottom includes the CUE infotainment display, capacitive switches for audio and climate control, a concealed storage compartment and USB and auxiliary input ports. The transmission shifter, two cup holders and an arm rest/storage compartment are also present.
The 2015 Cadillac ATS offers three engine choices. The base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 202 horsepower. Also available is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 272 horsepower and a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 321 horsepower.
All three engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual transmission is available with the turbo only. Buyers can upgrade to all-wheel drive across the model line.
The base engine seems ill-suited for the ATS, but it still manages to deliver slightly more power than the base BMW 320i Sedan. The turbo offers sufficient boost and is a good alternative to the larger and heavier V6. More modern transmission choices, such as 8-speed automatic would benefit this model as well.
The Cadillac ATS’ all-wheel drive system matches well with Europe’s finest, delivering a bias to the rear wheels. The ATS is outfitted with a multi-link MacPherson strut suspension up front and a five-link independent suspension at the rear. The available FE3 Performance Suspension system, mechanical limited-slip differential and summer tires unite to peg the performance quotient.
On the road, the test model equipped with the turbocharged four-cylinder engine moved smoothly off the mark. Boost kicks in low within the power curve and hits peak levels at 3,000 to 4,600 rpm. When equipped with the automatic, the transmission stick can be shifted manually or with paddle shifters. Meanwhile, the manual transmission offers short throws and excellent shift feel.
Today’s Cadillac models are typically satiated with the latest technologies. Beyond the engine and suspension choices previously mentioned and the safety information that follows, the 2015 Cadillac ATS comes with LED technology for the taillights and the center stop light.
Cadillac also employs active noise cancellation technology by harnessing the standard Bose premium audio system to manage noise levels with the powertrain system. The available 12-speaker audio system also automatically adjusts ambient sounds and music volume depending on the vehicle’s speed.
Other technology features include — Cadillac User Experience (CUE) and OnStar 4G LTE. CUE manages several features, including the ATS’ infotainment system. The 4G LTE system turns this model into a Wi-Fi hot spot. Also available is an inductive charging system for wireless phone charging.
As of this writing, crashworthiness testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is incomplete for the sedan and has yet to be conducted for the coupe. In tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2015 Cadillac ATS sedan achieved an overall rating of five out of five stars.
The 2015 Cadillac ATS is equipped with numerous standard safety features, including eight air bags, stability control, traction control, safety belt pretensioners and load limiters, hill hold assist and hill start assist.
Opt for the available Driver Assist package and your ATS comes with adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation, side blind zone alert and rear cross-traffic alert.
Cadillac prices the ATS Coupe from $37,995. The Luxury edition is priced from $42,915, the Performance edition comes in at $45,930 and the Premium edition begins at $48,090. All-wheel drive, available across the model line, adds approximately $3,500 to the base price.
The Cadillac ATS sedan is priced from $33,215 for the Standard edition. This model is also offered in a Luxury edition, priced from $38,335. The Performance edition is priced from $43,655 and the Premium edition starts at $46,610.
Various upgrades, including engine choices and packages, can push the final price of the Cadillac ATS to well above $50,000. A fully loaded ATS can cost as much as $65,000 when every option is taken.
The Cadillac ATS gives GM’s luxury brand its first true small sport sedan and coupe. This model compares favorably to its European competitors, but the top end of its price range seems high. Sedan shoppers looking for a bit more room and power might also consider the Cadillac CTS.