To rest on your laurels – therein lies the danger. Fitting then, that Cadillac’s new crest now debuts with its wreath removed, bearing only the stylized coat-of-arms of Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, eighteenth-century founder of Detroit. The new shield is simpler, wider, ready to go into battle against the blue-and-white roundel of BMW, and leading the charge is Caddy’s newest lance-corporal, the ATS coupe.
It’s pretty long way from the land-yacht luxo-barge of something like an Eldorado to this new angular machine. Lower and wider than the four-door sedan with which it shares underpinnings, the coupe is all-new front to rear with only the hood remaining the same. The track is wider front and rear by approximately 20 mm, something emphasized by the sculpting in the rear haunches, and the angle of attack for the windshield is more aggressively sloped. It’s also actually very slightly longer than the sedan – hey, sometimes old habits die hard.
What this new ATS coupe is not, is as dangerously avant-garde as the old CTS coupe was. You had to admire Cadillac for their previous brashness, especially the Batmobile-insanity of the CTS-V version, but while it may have been the hero we needed, it wasn’t the hero we purchased in any appreciable quantities.
The ATS’s shape, while still more aggressive than the standard four-door, and a distinctive display of Cadillac’s angular design language, is far more digestible to the average palate. Ditto when you climb into the cockpit, where visibility is actually pretty good – this compared to the CTS coupe’s pillbox-like outlook on life and cars behind you. Here, the side and rear mirrors are still slightly too small, and there’s a pretty prodigious three-quarter blind spot, but it’s not really worse than in a 4 Series BMW.
The interior of the ATS coupe, just like the sedan, is a mix of impressive materials and some mild frustrations. There are four different colour and trim packages, and all four use insets of genuine materials that are pleasing to the touch. If it looks like metal, it is metal; if it looks like wood, it is wood. Particularly nice are both the dark matte-finish wood combined with the brown leather, or the real carbon-fibre that contains red thread woven into the material to match the red leather.
2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 2.0L, 2.0L dashboard. Click image to enlarge
However, there still are a few areas to pick at. I did come across a slightly misaligned piece of metal trim, and the front pillars are covered in a material that doesn’t feel particularly luxurious. The use of suede-like material on the upper dash and seat backs is attractive, but you have to wonder how it’s going to bear up under constant use. Most bothersome, at least from a visual standpoint, is just how quickly the shiny touch-sensitive plastic of the dashboard’s central element attracts dust particles and smudges. Even when freshly cleaned, it took just minutes to start looking a bit dirty.
From an ergonomics standpoint, Cadillac has done a good job in creating a cabin that feels a little like an early BMW. The driver’s-side armrest is actually lower than the passenger’s, so it’s easy to get into a low-seat hands-at-9-and-3 position, and there’s a full-colour head-up display on the top-trim model. Headroom is slightly decreased versus the sedan, but the sunroof is optional; leave that box unchecked and the ATS fits taller drivers just fine.