March 3, 2013
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Wow — we got a lot of snow in a very short period of time and my commute on Wednesday evening includes a lot of country roads. Let me tell you this, if GM had sent a rear-wheel-drive ATS I would have been stuck and on the phone with OnStar. But the AWD system in my tester was a saviour and did it ever perform well!
Stability on completely snow-covered roads was purely amazing, the car felt perfectly stable at all times even at over 80 km/h over snow drifts and piles. When I wanted to have a little bit of fun and slide the car around, a little bit of fun could be had even with the stability system on; with it off — look out, you may have just a little too much fun if you want to!
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I don’t think I’ve ever driven on public roads with as much snow as I did today, and a compact all-wheel-drive sedan is pretty much the best vehicle you can have in these conditions. Ground clearance was not an issue at all, no SUV needed here; it would be a very rare occasion to need that much ground clearance.
In regards to the size of the ATS, though… it is small. The exterior dimensions show that this vehicle is the same size as a BMW 3-series, but I do not know where the space has gone to. The interior is cramped, ingress and egress for the back seats is laughable and if you attempt to open the glove box with a passenger in the passenger seat it won’t open very far as it hits their knees.
However, the interior layout is appealing and I like the aluminum accents on the jet black background. The gauges are very clear and easy to read, although I’ve noticed the speedometer needle tends to shake on the highway, which is pretty odd. There are a few other oddities that have disappointed me: one is that the steering rack squeaks when it is cold out as you turn the wheel… squeak… squeak; and it sounds like there is a mouse in the air handler system as there is a irregular clunk clunk sound coming from it at times.
As other reviewers have mentioned, the CUE system can be a love it or hate it affair — the touchscreen works well enough, but the console buttons for fan speed, volume control and heated seats are horrible — they do not work with gloves and are unresponsive at times. Worse than that, though, are the steering wheel controls with a large rocker switch that you push in to select — that works only half the time… if you’re lucky.
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