Article by Brendan McAleer, photos courtesy of Cadillac
Much was made at the launch of the ATS of the new alpha-platform luxury sedan’s emphasis on balance, nimble handling, and the use of chassis stiffening materials that were both strong and light. That’s nice, everyone said, so when’s the V-series version coming?
Well, here it is, and it’s a corker. The power comes, as expected, from a 3.6L twin-turbocharged V6 similar to that found in the CTS VSport. However, here Cadillac’s pumped up the boost to a total of 455 hp and a peak torque of 445 lb-ft of torque. It’s not just bigger turbos forcing more air either, you get titanium connecting rods, shortened intake runners, and bigger fuel injectors. There’s even a better-baffled oil pan to handle extra g-forces.
Power is routed through the rear wheels via either an eight-speed automatic, or a six-speed manual transmission. The former is essentially the same as found in the current-gen Stingray, although tuned more for comfort, and it features paddle shifters. Both transmissions get launch control and an electrically controlled limited-slip differential, and then it’s up to the specially developed 18-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sports tires to either stick to the track or evaporate into smoke. We predict more than a few owners are going to succumb to the temptation to do the latter.
2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe, seating. Click image to enlarge
That’s the heartbeat – handling the extra hundred-odd horses over the formerly sportiest V6 required more chassis stiffening and considerable aerodynamic tweaking. A carbon-fibre hood is standard, along with unique front fascia to deal with the widened track of the car. Quad exhausts out back and a rear spoiler will provide a nice view for those you’ve just blitzed past after clipping an apex.
To help the ATS-V handle better, it’s 25 percent stiffer, there’s the wider track (as much as an inch wider on the sedan version), and the suspension fitted is the next-generation version of GM’s magnetoheological damping system. Now a reported 40 percent faster-reacting than before, the magnetic ride should help keep the ATS-V glued to the tarmac around your favourite road course, working hand-in-glove with a three-setting performance-oriented traction-control system. Big Brembo brakes sized 14.5 inches up front and 13.3 inches in the rear provide stopping; Caddy has opted not to offer a big-dollar ceramic option, but makes claims that their standard system is up to the task as is, ready to hit the track right off the lot.
Johan de Nysschen, now the head of Cadillac, having jumped ship from Infiniti, wants the V-Series of vehicles to become their own sub-brand, in the manner of AMG or BMW’s M. If the move to relocate Cadillac’s corporate headquarters to Manhattan is a controversial one, then setting V apart is a no-brainer. The current CTS VSport is already a great car to drive, offering boosted performance over the standard car, and if Cadillac can continue to offer genuine performance from the brand, migrating through to crossovers and other volume products, they could make a go of it.
In the meantime, the ATS-V should function as a halo car to bump up interest in the standard ATS, and hopefully generate more sales. It’s got the power, it’s going to have the pace – unfortunately, however, it doesn’t do much to address frustrations with Cadillac’s CUE infotainment, or how ho-hum the gauge cluster looks.
2016 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan seating, 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan. Click image to enlarge
Still, 455 hp and an available track package comprised of carbon-fibre aerodynamics and a Corvette-style data recorder more than make up for any kinks to be worked out in the infotainment. Moreover, the standard 20-way sport seats look suitably comfortable, and the Recaros appear ready to keep you planted as you hammer through the corners.
And if you want something more, there’s always the GT3-spec ATS-V.R racecar.
And what of the CTS-V? Well, that’s on the way, though de Nysschen says it will have, “A markedly different character.” Bigger power rather than light and lithe? We’ll have to wait.