We recently gave the honor of our Best of the Year Drivers’ Choice award to the Cadillac ATS. The ATS excels in all the ways expected from a world class luxury sports sedan. And to celebrate that achievement let’s take the ATS to our favorite party place, Savannah’s Roebling Road Raceway to see if our praise for ATS street work carries over to the track.
At least that’s what we’ve told ourselves. Truth be told, we just wanted more track time in the 2013 Cadillac ATS to fully enjoy this benchmark sport sedan. For us, the ATS was very much love at first drive! And, we’re certainly not alone as our fellow journalists also selected the ATS, the North American Car of the Year.
But, we were determined to see if three days of romping around our favorite track would make our love permanent. On the way, the ATS continued to deliver a purposeful street ride quality that remains comfortable, yet reminds you that it’s ready and willing to be pushed hard should you so choose. And we did just that around Roebling’s 9-high speed turns; loving every minute of it. The flat handling, near 50/50 weight distribution, and super direct feel that we praised so highly before were fully in effect.
Our only complaint, at track speeds the car is so quiet it’s hard to know when to shift, and before you know it you’re up against a very soft rev limiter and wondering where the power went. GM’s Magnetic Ride Control is available, and works with mechanical limited slip rear to keep the ATS well planted in corners and well propelled off them.
Our power-train of choice for this reunion was the 2.0-liter turbo with 6-speed manual combo that we highly recommend, even if you don’t have track days on your to-do list. It’s a very enjoyable combination that makes even the most mundane tasks a worthwhile adventure.
The 2.0 sends 272-horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque to the rear wheels; doing so very smoothly, with the help of a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection. The 6-speed’s shifter is not perfect; just a hair notch-y on quick moves, but plenty precise enough, and better than most of the ATS’s imported rivals. Clutch is on the soft side, but we got everything out of it sprinting to 60 in just 6.2-seconds. The ¼-mile mission was accomplished in 14.4-seconds with a speed of 96 miles-per-hour.
Our upgraded Brembo brakes were up to the track task as well, providing steady performance and average stopping distances of 128-feet from 60. In fact braking performance was every bit as resilient as the last CTS-V we brought to Roebling and that means excellent.
Whether it’s pulling into the pits, the office, or the golf club, the ATS’ sharp and sporty design looks right at home. A large wreath and crest is prominently displayed on the chrome-trimmed grille; and on either side, HID projector beams lie behind angular lenses that creep back menacingly into the front fenders. Perfect proportions highlight the view from the side; with 18-inch wheels, spaced 109.3-inches apart, filling up the wheel wells nicely.
The view from the rear is just as aggressive where traditional Cadillac elements like vertical tail lights and prominent wreath-and-crest, join contemporary features like the blacked out lower fascia with dual exhaust.
Inside, the material quality of our Premium Collection car was very good and front seats are both comfortable and supportive. Just enough side bolstering to keep you centered behind the wheel. Rear seats are also comfortable, but in typical Euro sport sedan fashion, there is a lack of leg room, though we will admit it’s not as bad as some have made it out to be. So, we’ve come to terms with that, but the deficiency of space in the trunk, at just 10.2 cubic-ft., makes us travel a bit lighter than we’d like.
But, plenty of interior functionality goes a long way towards alleviating those shortcomings, with features like Cadillac’s voice-activated CUE interface. Nice looking aluminum trim and a “great-to-the-touch” leather wrapped steering wheel are also plusses.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings continue the good vibes at 19-City, 30-Highway, and 23-Combined. The automatic does a bit better. Energy Impact Scores are slightly better than average, at 14.3-barrels of oil consumed annually while emitting 6.4-tons of C02 into the atmosphere.
But it’s the base price of just $33,990 that really seals the deal for us. 2.0-liter turbo models start at just $35,795. Opt for the manual transmission, and not only will you up the fun factor exponentially, you’ll get as much as $1,475 back. All-wheel-drive is also available.
It’s always a great time when you get reacquainted with a loved one, and we haven’t loved an American sedan this much in some time. So, call us home teamers all you want, the 2013 Cadillac ATS is a true world-class sport sedan built with pride and ready to ride!
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo
Torque: 260 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.4 seconds @ 96 mph
EPA: 19 mpg city/ 30 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 14.3 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.4 tons/yr