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2013 Cadillac ATS

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Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
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Stepping out of a 911 and into the new 2013 Cadillac ATS was a little shocking — but oddly enough what shocked me the most was the power the 3.6-litre engine in the ATS delivers. Leaving the parking lot of the Cadillac dealer I nearly peeled the rubber off the tires, I was stunned that the ATS actually felt quicker than the 911… for a moment.

There is a lot of hype surrounding the new Cadillac ATS — available with three engines: a 2.5-litre Direct Injection four-cylinder producing 202 horsepower and available only in rear-wheel drive, a 2.0-litre turbocharged power plant available in all-wheel and rear-wheel drive that produces 272 horsepower and the top of the line 3.6-litre V6 available in both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive producing 321 horsepower.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
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My tester is the most most powerful of the bunch, coupled to the all-wheel-drive system and a six-speed automatic transmission. My tester is in what Cadillac calls Luxury trim, which is the base trim for the 3.6L engine. Starting at $46,660 for the all-wheel-drive layout with the six-cylinder engine, the only additions on this tester are the $1,495 navigation system and a moonroof for $1,395; add in some freight and PDI and you are just over $51,000 plus any applicable taxes.

GM believes the Luxury trim will be their bestselling trim line with an expected take rate of 40 percent, while they expect the 3.6-litre engine to only capture 25 percent of the sales; all-wheel-drive models should account for 65 percent of sales. As a result, the Luxury package, as you might expect, offers up a good balance of features for the price without going overboard on gizmos and new technology.

Standard features on the Luxury trim include: leather seats, CUE infotainment package, Brembo 4-piston brakes, dual exhaust, keyless entry and keyless start, heated steering wheel, heated seats and a rear-vision camera.

MSRP as tested (including destination): $51,145

For more information on Cadillac and the ATS visit GM Canada

For even more on this car FOLLOW James on Twitter

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
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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!

Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
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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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Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
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The Cadillac ATS continues to deliver intrigue and surprises daily. Today I accidentally touched just below the face of the centre console and it flipped up! There is a large storage bin behind the touch sensitive controls — hidden from view and away from Customs’ prying eyes. [What is it exactly that you need to hide from Customs, James? --Ed.]

The volume control also works better if you use it as a slider instead of attempting to adjust by tapping the button over and over to adjust the volume.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac

I agree with most of my automotive journalist colleagues that love the driving dynamics that the ATS offers. It feels light, nimble and eager to please and is so toss-able it really is fun to drive. Too bad for me the weather is not offering me any chance to explore the dynamics as much as I would hope, but I have explored the limits at low speed on snow.

The 3.6L engine is smooth, powerful and the dual exhaust offers a nice roar as you tromp on the throttle pedal. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts extremely quickly and smoothly — and unlike most newer vehicles the transmission is not shifting so early as to bog the engine down, it is tuned perfectly.

Power is ample; with 321-horsepower the ATS rockets away from a stop and passing is a breeze. On the highway I expected a quieter ride — the tuning is certainly aimed more on the sports side and tire noise is evident. But the suspension soaks up imperfections beautifully and passengers will certainly not be complaining about ride harshness.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
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Yes, the ATS is fun to drive, but that does not make up for many of the faults I found with my tester. Perhaps these are just faults of my tester specifically, but this can sour one’s experience for sure.

Trying to haul some stuff to do some painting, the trunk capacity came into question as well; certainly a lot of little items can be placed in the trunk but it does fill up faster than you may expect. Over the week I averaged 11.4 L/100 km, another disappointment — but to be fair we did get a lot of snow and one trip especially had the engine struggling as there must have been snow jammed into the wheel well, which came free when I turned.

A week and over 500 kilometres behind the wheel of the new 2013 Cadillac ATS and to my surprise I come out underwhelmed and unexcited.

2013 Cadillac ATS
Acceleration Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
Handling Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
Comfort Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
Interior Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
Audio System Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
Gas Mileage Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac
Overall Day by Day Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 car test drives daily car reviews cadillac

*Rating based on vehicle’s classification
MSRP as tested (including destination): $51,145

For more information on Cadillac and the ATS visit GM Canada

For even more on this car FOLLOW James on Twitter




About James Bergeron

James Bergeron is an Ottawa-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).