Cadillac ATS-V Coupe & Sedan
Engine: 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual; rear-wheel drive
Horsepower: 464 horsepower
Torque: 445 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 4.2 seconds
Top Speed: 189 mph
MSRP: $61,460 (base)
HC: While the burly CTS-V carves corners like a chef’s knife, the ATS-V handles them with the precision of a scalpel. It’s sharp and direct, endlessly entertaining on the right roads. This thing is a turbocharged go-kart. (That’s supposed to be a compliment.)
NC: I drove a beautiful Vector Blue sedan with a six-speed manual, so our impressions are admittedly a bit skewed — Hayden’s was a coupe with an automatic. But if I had the money (and the balls), this is the exact car I would get. Not a BMW or Benz; not a high-power Mustang or even a Corvette varietal. This sedan is the right size and tautness; its power and delivery are downright silly yet somehow practical; its looks, comfort and tech are everything I’d want in a daily driven mutant.
Sussing out the V-Series in three locations, each with a different vibe.
Location 1: Crowded Tourist Traps
HC: I piloted my CTS-V north on PCH from Orange County, earning nods of approval from the hordes of BMW and Benz drivers that normally colonize the Newport Beach roads. By the time I hit Malibu, I’m stifled by traffic and a police officer stops me just to check out the car. I needed to stretch my legs anyway. 4 out of 5, for uniqueness.
NC: I parked the CTS-V outside a restaurant/bar and raved to a few friends that I had a giggle-inducing lunatic machine out front. Afterward, I amazed a friend on a blitz through Brooklyn, but come midnight I wasn’t done. Stone sober but high on look-at-me fumes, I cruised (okay, crawled) solo through Times Square. My black stealth bomber drew a few head turns and side eyes from cops, but sitting still is not this beast’s forte. 2 out of 5, because it couldn’t stretch its legs or draw attention.
Location 2: Hipster Meccas
HC: The Venice locals, with kale juices in hand, can’t be bothered to check me out in the ATS-V. One woman even laughs at me as I approach the driveway into Whole Foods at an angle, going less than 1 mph, to protect my carbon fiber bumper. 2 out of 5, for practicality.
NC: Aside from a couple scowls, the ATS-V or CTS-V garner hardly a notice. These cats are way too cool; too wrapped up in their farmer’s/flea market, post-brunch, sneak-booze-into-the-park weekend vibes. But mine were the most powerful and capable cars in the ‘hood. The revving, the dirty looks, the fact that I was off-putting in a purposeful way made these sleepers with no parallel. 3 out of 5.
Location 3: Twisty Roads
HC: The ATS-V feels like it was born on the sweeping, pristine roads that make up the Angeles Crest Highway. I take laps back and forth until dark, blasting “No More Parties in L.A.” with the windows down in the 70-degree dusk. 5 of 5, for the adrenaline rush.
NC: North of the city, the “highways” are really just old, twisty two-lane limited-access roads in many places, with multiple stoplights at which I nabbed the front spot — and then quickly left in my dust. Blasts from a standstill; curves through the wooded, empty forests; Track Mode the whole way: this is what roads, cars, gasoline and weekends were meant for. 5 out of 5 — 6 out of 5 if I could.
The West Coast, by a Single Point
HC: 11 out of 15 for Los Angeles. It feels good to be a champion. And let this victory be a note to out-of-towners: Yes, there is traffic, but there are also some of the best roads in the country on this coast — if you know where to look (and know what to drive).
NC: NYC and its environs earned a respectable 10 out of 15. In my fair metropolis these cars can’t reach their full potential in everyday driving. They can look and sound the part, and truly even feel the part if you opt for the right settings and drive “correctly,” and that’s a huge part of owning an unhinged car. But the biggest thrill should come from extracting performance, and New York City just doesn’t allow for that sort of unbridled fun. Congrats to you, California. I’ve always loved your avocados.
One Final Word
Cadillac has taken the most outrageous parts of their GM bloodline and infused every drop into these two demons. The CTS-V is the definition of “outrageous,” if only because its power somehow outshines the rest of the car in a delightful way — unless you’re on a track, where the whole package dominates. The ATS-V may be the perfectly-sized performance car. Optioned well, it will satisfy every taste — especially if you’re maniacal. But regardless of your locale, if it’s performance, establishment-ruining looks and a permanent smile you’re looking for, you have to drive either — or both — of these cars. Now.