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Cadillac ATS 2.0T Premium Collection

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Published on Sat, Sep 12, 2015

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


Cadillac ATS 2.0T Premium Collection (Doug Stokes)

No, we’re not talking about an emissions control device. We’re talking about a Cadillac that can turn you into a believer. The ATS 2.0T will up end any remaining vestige you have of the old Cadillac. This is the new Cadillac. Even newer than the me-too Cadillacs that tried to emulate the German luxury cars not too long ago. Editor Doug Stokes reviews the car. Story and pictures by Doug Stokes Whoa! The steering just broke or we lost a lot of tire pressure on one side, or we … No … Everything is OK. Yeow! …Whoa! … Whew! … What the heck? It is again time for my oft-repeated true confession that I spend almost NO time “boning up” on any of the review cars that I am assigned to drive here at LA Car. So the fact that this all-in Cadillac ATS came equipped with a “Driver Awareness Package” was not on my mind when the car seemed to physically resist my idea about changing lanes in my first few miles in the driver’s seat. After a while it became sort of fun to feel that tug/tightness on the steering wheel … The first time that it happened I did pull off the freeway to find out why the steering felt like it was binding-up, whipping out the novel-like owner’s manual for this Cadillac and quickly reading up on some of the latest points of passive safety … The next thing that you need to know about this $49,500 (shipping and handling included) machine is that, once again, Cadillac has built a series of cars that fully put paid to all of the former concepts of what a Cadillac is supposed to look like, stand for, or perform. Although I’ve lately driven a couple of examples of the new, Euro-performance style Cadillacs, this one honestly stood out as one of the best, and most refined, while still offering a strong overall performance package. How to put it. This one, the 2015 ATS 2.0T is great (to drive), whereas the wagon version of the Cadillac CTS-V with its 500+ horsepower 6.2 L supercharged V-8 hooked up to a 6-speed manual (!) transmission in 2012 was a beast on a leash at best, and just plain frightening at other times*. This ATS is a barrel of (very classy) fun out on the highway and no slouch in the tighter confines of the local canyons of the San Gabriels or claustrophobic city streets either. Before we even officially started this little talk, there was a mention of the one aspect of the full slate of “nanny state” safety items that Cadillac has gilded this lily with. Known on the spec sheet as the Driver Awareness Package it is comprised of (deep breath): safety seat alert**, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, lane keep assist (see above), intellibeam® high-beam control, and Rainsense wipers. There’s also adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation, automatic seat belt tensioning, front and rear automatic braking, side blind alert, and head-up information display.


(Doug Stokes)

It never rained enough (hey, there’s a drought in Southern California) to try the trick windshield wipers that claim to know that it’s raining before the driver does, and we did not invoke any of the other above enumerated safety helpers (figuring that’s a good thing when you simply know that there are eight airbags present, and are not counting them up after they deploy). As good as all of the (above) passive safety stuff is, the ATS had plenty of gear to allow you to steer clear and/or stop short of needing any of it (especially stuff like having On Star calling to ask if you’re OK after a hard hit). This car has a very complete selection of diver tools to help you avoid fishing out your Auto Club card to indicate your need for a tow truck (yeah, I know, On Star will call them for you). And this one has a very complete selection staring with that handling package, the Brembo disc brakes, and Stablitrak. Top that off with the sort of crisp and accurate steering response the ZF electric steering provides here, and avoiding problems (while always preferable) seems considerably more doable. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the idea that a Cadillac needs to handle, or ride, fit, or feel like a BMW, Mercedes, or an Audi is no longer applicable. Cadillac has staked out its own territory that does everything that all of the above do, but in a style that is starting to become far more noticeable, better understood, and in this case its own and most welcome. Again, Cadillac had developed its own styling motif and this is a clean, sleek example—nothing showy or intense, but a nice riff on the traditional Cadillac grille set this one off well for my eye at least. This is a four-door and we do (at least) climb in a sit a bit in back. I must report that the rakish roof line makes one bend far forward on entry and exit, but, once ensconced, the seats, view, and possibilities are all good to excellent (and that’s in no particular order). The extensive build sheet on this car went straight across the king size Monroney that we were given with it (see below). Stuff that used to be very big-buck add-ons were front and center (like a set of magnificent Brembo brakes—the gold standard of the racing world), a chocolaty, hand-crafted full leather interior, 18-inch (nicely machined) alloy wheels, a 12-way driver seat (the front seat passenger “only” gets 10), “rainsense” windshield wipers (first sign of precipitation, they are on and at your service), a performance suspension package, front and rear park assist, and a wealth of additional features and benefits. In truth, almost more than one would expect (these days) to be included in $50K package. Not sure that I’d order (who am I kidding?) an ATS in Black Diamond Tricoat. I think I should have called this color Silver Overspray, but I quibble. Seats That reminds me, this one had a neat, pull-out leg support on the front seats. I see these on very few cars that I drive; I’d pay extra for these back-savers on any car that I’d ever buy. They are part of a very full deck of such niceties that came standard on the ATS (heck, they don’t even mention it on the price sheet). And the engine—if you never open the hood (or read any further in this review) you would never know that this Cadillac is powered by a 4-cylinder engine. Now before you go howling off into the night, understand that this is as sweet and sophisticated four-cylinder, two-liter, turbocharged motor as has ever come down the pike in a production car. There’s nothing, the sound, the idle, (and particularly the power) to give this one away as some econo-car drop-in. This is 272 stout horsepower soundly backed up by 279 pounds-feet of road-gobbling, lane-changing torque.


(Doug Stokes)

If they don’t ask, and you don’t tell, non-readers of this review would never have even a clue as to the number of cylinders that this car had. Dead silent and smooth at idle, this one emits a low (but fully understandable, almost sensuous) growl on being prodded. We had a good deal of fun accelerating smoothly away in all sort of scenarios with this one. My road notes say: “… assertive without being an untamed animal about it.” Aiding and abetting that growl was about as nice a six-speed automatic transmission as one can hunt up. This A/T has attitude. Hit it hard and find out that somebody at GM has really done their homework and figured out that when you say “Go” with your right side size 10 Skechers “Diameter” you are wanting the car to do that. This one does. Yeah, it’s got (for heaven’s sake!) MAGNESIUM PADDLE SHIFTERS which my boy-racer side used one-or twice, but this transmission is fully “smart” enough to recognize the difference between cruising the boulevard and a stoplight grand prix, and works both situations to perfection. Competent is rightly a good thing to say about a car’s transmission. In this case, I’d call this one confident. Here direct fuel injection again shows off its twin advantages: instant power production, and, combined with a well-controlled turbocharger, better than expected (for this class of super-lux vehicles) fuel mileage. In this case EPA advising that you’ll get 21/30 (!) city/highway and 24 mpg combined. In a mid-sized 4-door Cadillac! And, although we did not try it (this time) I’m pretty sure that the 16-gallon fuel tank will make the LA-Vegas trip a straight shot, even with the obligatory stop at that big-old giant In-And-Out in Barstow. In fact, I drove only this car about 300 miles over the week I had it, all in relatively short hops. Of course with seats, steering, braking, and ride the ATS featured that number could be put on the odo after an early breakfast or before a late lunch with equal ease. The dash display is accurate, almost old-fashioned (that’s good here) in its use of real needles to point out the essentials, e.g. engine rpm, speed, fuel amount, and engine temperature. The really important stuff (the fact that that we were tuned to Sirius channel 71 and that the Anita O’Day was presently singing, “You’re The Top” is located directly below the speedometer.


(Doug Stokes)

Of course it will be reported that this is first Cadillac in many years, 30 or so, that’s available with a 4-cylinder engine and tales will be told about the entirely unsuccessful and universally-panned Cimarron which was (I actually reviewed one for Inland Business Magazine… see photo) a Chevy-based J-Car tarted-up with an obviously tacked-on “Cadillac” grille and a few other obvious/ridiculous hang-ons. It did sweet nothing for Cadillac and came close to losing the marque’s long time stranglehold on the upscale car market in New Jersey. In retrospect the idea WAS ahead of its time, as it has turned out. Most of the luxo bunch has some sort of downmarket (but not all THAT downmarket) offering in their lineup now trying to get their brand in play earlier in some people’s lives. One can’t fault Cadillac for trying and try they have with the long promised and then disappointingly bland Catera, and the expensive and over complicated Allante (with its “coachwork” built in Italy and flown to the U.S. to be mated to its underpinnings in Michigan by a fleet of specially-outfitted 747’s). Thank goodness they keep trying because Cadillac’s current crop of performance models (led off by this ATS really hit all the marks and, as we’ve said, now owe very little (except maybe the challenge) to any world class manufacturer. The look here is just classic enough to make the statement without overstating (as those more senior of us can remember at one time was the stock and trade of the crest and ducks division) Remember the Biarritz, the Coupe Deville? Ok, what about the Seville. This is none of that flash and filigree, the ATS’s stance is self-assured, confident, competent, and sincere. My personal negative Cadillac connotations fade further away every time that I get behind the wheel of one of these brilliantly conceived and beautifully completed automobiles. My memory is still of those blowsy-bloated “boats” with blurry handling (if you could even call it “handling”) and unrelenting ostentation that was laid on layer after layer over every inch of the line. Cadillac’s “CUE” system (“Cadillac User Experience”) features a bright 8” touch screen and a multitude of programming options that range far beyond simply having a little color map pointing out where you are (in case you don’t know where you are, which is often my predicament). We used it sparingly, but to good effect, some while use it more, some less. This unit did have one of the best and more accurate back-up cameras that I’ve used and really relied on in quite some time.


The Monroney (view the more legible version in the gallery below)

MONRONEY: I’ve asked our publisher to include a shot of the actual price sticker for this one. It’s a rich layer cake of luxury tech items that add up to quite a complete package, short of a built-in microwave oven (whatever happened to refrigerated glove compartments?) and an eight-track tape player, I can’t think of much more that I’d need ever. Happily, Detroit is now building cars that fit the word “erudite” and this one is one of them. That’s altogether excellent and generally uplifting. *I’m not sure if I mentioned it in that review, but I’ve said on more than one occasion that the two happiest day of my life (and I lead a very sheltered one as one may imagine) were the day that the delivery service dropped that wild Caddy wagon off, and one week later when they came to take it away. **An annoying way of making a point that you are out of line, or too close, or doing something that the Caddy’s conscience is concern for.


- Doug Stokes

SEMI-ANGRY NOTE TO ALL CAR MANUFACTURERS AND NOT JUST GM: 1.) Please stop putting all those damn logos, and whatever other bright your design peeps think is cool on the steering wheel. It can’t be just me who dislikes being half-blinded by the afternoon sun by some sort of chrome crest/crap on the directional control module. 2.) Yes, it is very cool to have a push button start/stop … very cool. But all of you need to get together about where you’re placing it, agree on a fairly common (close) location and stick with it. 3.) One more thing, those little strings of (are they LEDs? How cool!) lights around a car’s headlights are not cool and are perhaps the most overused leitmotifs since the tailfin, talking cars (“…the door is ajar”) and “Dagmars”. And this is not just calling Cadillac out … even the VW that we drove a few weeks ago had ‘em. Now that everyone has riffed on the idea (with lesser and lesser success) let them go to the land of curb-feelers and spinner wheel covers. Please? PLEASE … THANK YOU. SIDEBAR COMMENT ATS Review - The 36,000 mile report: A not so positive review by Autoweek of the Cadillac ATS V6 prompted the reexamination of my ATS 2.0 turbo, now at 18 month old and 36,000 miles. ATS sales are in the tank, a new low of 1800 per month a few months ago, and narrowed down to 2 doors, which i like, probably 5 per month. Bad marketing, in my opinion, as it's a great car. That being said, ALL new cars have some real deficiencies to my jaundiced eye; incomprehensible controls, lane correction that just decreases driving skills even more (and how do they work when the sensors are covered with mud or the roads are covered with snow ?) and lousy ride quality; the function of large diameter wheels with low profile run flat tires. See below for further comments on run flats, tire noise and more. A brief note about cars, GM at least - 5 GM products purchased new in the past 5 years, no warranty issues with any of them. Cars are getting better !!. Back to my ATS, it replaced a 2010 Corvette Grand Sport, which I wanted to dispose of after 5 years and 100,000 miles; something expensive was about to wear out soon. The Vette was great but I needed to carry more junk around with me than the Vette allowed for so went shopping for an interesting car with a trunk. Incidentally, the only issues with the Vette, 1) run flats were so noisy that you couldn’t hear the radio (replaced them with better quieter tires and bought a compressor and tire sealant), 2) it was difficult to drive in the rain, a function of big fat tires and it was low, I scraped everywhere and wore off most of the air dams and undercar air redirection pieces. A plus, I’m 6’5 and it was comfortable; almost 30 mpg and 143 mph in a standing half mile. After speaking with Cadillac president, Johan de Nysschen, at the LA Auto Show and looking at (and sitting in) the ATS, I was convinced to give it a try. Shopped online, used and the same dealer I’ve bought a few cars from and found an almost base model that finally came in at 10 thou under sticker. I didn’t want navigation, polished wheels, fancy sound systems or wifi. And now, 36,000 miles later – 27 mpg average, no warranty issues but …… The stock basic touch screen is terrible, hard to see on sunny days and difficult to use when driving, as are all the center dash touch activated controls. A great aftermarket addon might be a replacement panel with buttons and knobs. We probably all long for the day when climate controls (that used to be the heater and air conditioning) were able to be shut off completely. The driver information system is incomprehensible; I’ve yet not been able to reset the clock or oil life information. And, no one could fit in the back seat (I haven’t offered this to anyone). Also, no boost gauge; probably a good thing as the 20psi needed to make the power this has is unnerving, at least to us old 8 psi guys Great car to drive, responsive, good handling, good seats - comfortable for at least the 5 hours at a time I’ve driven it. No complaints. I’m sure it will make it to the 5 year, 100,000 mark I use as a determining point for replacement. - Dave Wolin Got something to say? Add your Facebook comment regarding this article here. For more information about Cadillac products, go to


(Doug Stokes)

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2015 Cadillac ATS2.0T Premium Collection Price: $45,615 (base) $49,500 (as tested, with Kona Brown interior with Jet Black Accents, Black Diamond TriCoat paint, Cold Weather Package) EPA fuel economy rating (miles per gallon): 21 city/30 highway/24 combined Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC 16-valve turbocharged four-in-line with direct injection Horsepower: 272 at 5500 rpm Torque: 295 pound-feet at 3000 rpm Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6L45 six-speed automatic with sequential manual shifting option and magnesium paddle shifters Steering: ZF Premium rack-mounted electric variable power-assisted steering Drive configuration: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive Suspension Four-wheel independent with MacPherson-type struts in front and five-link rear suspension, and Magnetic Ride Control Brakes: Four-wheel FNC-treated discs with Brembo Performance front brakes, Stabilitrac stability control, Traction Control, Anti-Lock Brake System Wheels and tires: 18-inch machined aluminum wheels with summer Performance Run-Flat tires, tire pressure monitor Dimensions Length: 182.8 inches Width: 71.1 inches Height: 55.9 inches Curb weight: 3373 pounds


(Doug Stokes)

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