In 2016, Cadillac launched the ATS-V, painting unmistakable targets on the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63. Previously, Cadillac tasked its larger CTS-V with doing the heavy lifting against rivals across two segments. The arrival of the smaller ATS-V allowed for a separation of powers, enabling the CTS-V to take its rightful place at the top of the mega-power supersedan class while the ATS-V faced off much more squarely against the compact German contemporaries.
Essentially identical to last year's car, the 2017 ATS-V is blessed with the inherently good bones of the sharp-handling base ATS. The performance-oriented ATS-V ratchets the capability up several notches with an electronically controlled differential and Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers, which help provide the car with real-world ride compliance and racetrack capability. In the relatively lean, compact ATS, this hardware really shines.
A standard six-speed manual gearbox clearly signals that the ATS-V is an enthusiast's car. Paired to a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 that's a juiced-up version of what's in the CTS V-Sport, the ATS-V directs 464 hp to its rear wheels only. This potency eclipses the M3's twin-turbo inline-6 by 39 horsepower (or by 20 hp for Competition Package-equipped M3s) and in our testing allows the ATS-V to reach 60 mph in a hair more than 4 seconds. A set of huge Brembo brakes are standard.
Capable and fast as it is, the ATS-V gives up some functionality due to its tidy cabin dimensions. Its backseat is cramped for its segment, and the trunk has limited room. We've also found its standard, touch-based CUE multimedia interface to be somewhat awkward and slow compared to its competition. These considerations are real-world counterpoints to the car's sporting prowess.
The closest rivals to the ATS-V are the aforementioned German standard bearers, with the BMW being the closest in spirit. Its spacious interior and similar performance profile mean the BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe are well-matched, while the Mercedes-AMG C63's more dramatic cabin environment and a scintillating twin-turbo V8 trump them both. Elsewhere, the Lexus RC F coupe delivers thrills with its non-turbocharged V8, but it doesn't provide a four-door variant, the Cadillac's nimble feel or a manual gearbox. Ultimately, if you can make peace with the 2017 Cadillac ATS-V's few foibles, you're going to love the thrills you get, especially for the price.
Standard safety features for the 2017 Cadillac ATS-V include antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags, front knee airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation. A Teen Driver system, which can be used to set and monitor certain vehicle parameters for young drivers, is a new standard feature this year.
The ATS-V’s panic braking performance in our testing of a 2016 Coupe is exemplary, reaching a stop from 60 mph in 99 feet. This is a world-class result, right up there with mega-buck supercars.
As noted above, the Safety and Security package adds lane departure warning and intervention, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert and rear side airbags for the sedan. However, this package is not compatible with the Track Performance package.
In government crash tests, the four-door ATS-V earned a top score of five stars for side-impact safety. No frontal-impact score was available for the ATS-V at publishing time, but the regular ATS earned a five-star rating.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Cadillac ATS-V is a high-performance compact luxury car offered as either a five-passenger sedan or a four-passenger coupe. Both come in a single, well-equipped trim level.
Standard features include a carbon-fiber hood, 18-inch alloy wheels, Brembo performance brakes, a sport suspension with adaptive dampers (Magnetic Ride Control), an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, adjustable driving modes, heated auto-dimming mirrors, automatic headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front sport seats (with manual thigh bolsters), a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and driver memory settings.
Note that the sedan gets a fixed (non-folding) rear seatback by default, while the coupe comes standard with split-folding rear seatbacks.
Standard electronics features include OnStar (with 4G LTE connectivity and Wi-Fi hot-spot capability), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, wireless device charging, a 5.7-inch color driver information display in the gauge cluster, remote start (automatic transmission only), the CUE infotainment system (including an 8-inch central touchscreen display, voice controls and Pandora internet radio integration), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone app integration and a Bose audio system (seven speakers for the sedan, nine speakers for the coupe) with three USB ports, an SD card slot, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
A few options packages are available. The Carbon Fiber package adds carbon-fiber exterior trim, black sill extensions and a body-color rear spoiler. A new Carbon Black package includes the Carbon Fiber package bits and adds upgraded Recaro seats, a synthetic-suede shifter and steering wheel, a black grille and unique dark-finish wheels. The Luxury package adds xenon headlights, an upgraded Bose surround-sound audio system (10 speakers for the sedan, 12 speakers for the coupe), a 110-volt power outlet, a navigation system and (for the sedan) split folding rear seatbacks. The Safety and Security package (requires the Luxury package) adds additional anti-theft measures, automatic high beam control, automatic wipers, a head-up display, a lane departure warning and intervention system, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert and (for the sedan) rear side airbags.
The Track Performance package includes the Carbon Fiber package, though it cannot be ordered with the Luxury package (and therefore the Safety and Security package is out, too). It adds the navigation system, a performance data and video recorder (enabling high-resolution, shareable videos of track driving with data overlays) and a low-mass battery. It also deletes the standard carpeted floor mats, tire inflation kit and tow hooks, but these items can be added back via the Protection package.
Additional options include a sunroof (requires Luxury package), red or gold brake calipers, Recaro sport seats, a racetrack-oriented video and data recorder, and microfiber steering wheel and shift knob trim.
The 2017 Cadillac ATS-V is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engine rated at 464 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while the transmission options are a six-speed manual (including automatic rev-matching on downshifts) and an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters. In our testing of a 2016 ATS-V Coupe with the automatic transmission, we measured a 0-60-mph time of 4.2 seconds, which is identical to what we've measured from a BMW M4.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for 2017 wasn't available as of publishing, but last year's ATS-V posted a respectable 19 mpg combined (16 city/24 highway) from automatic-equipped cars. Manuals earned 17 city/23 highway.
With a rewarding, athletic chassis and precise steering, the 2017 Cadillac ATS-V feels right at home on a racetrack or on your favorite back road. Yet the ATS-V also manages to deliver surprisingly good ride compliance on the street. A big share of the credit goes to its adjustable Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) suspension dampers, which allow all-day driving comfort in Touring mode and sharp reflexes in Sport and Track modes. That's a distinct improvement over the regular ATS with its optional sport suspension, which lacks MRC and serves up a stiff-legged ride as a result.
Some might pine for a V8, but the ATS-V's turbocharged V6 delivers big-time thrust with no bad manners. The only thing missing is a rousing soundtrack. Indeed, there's enough potency on tap that you should warn your passengers before you plant your right foot, and even then, you're likely to hear some startled noises. The automatic transmission is smooth and smart, but the manual shifter adds value with its unusual "no-lift shift" feature, allowing you to keep your foot on the gas during gearchanges.
Setting it apart from lesser ATS models, the 2017 Cadillac ATS-V receives a host of cosmetic upgrades including carbon-fiber accents and stitched surfaces in keeping with its elevated price tag. The available two-tone upholstery adds some spice, too, if that's your jam. Optional Recaro sport seats can feel a bit confining in daily use, though their support in fast-road shenanigans is undeniable. Certain aspects of the cabin are a little disappointing (the instrument cluster, for example, has a decidedly downmarket look), but it's not enough to ruin the vibe.
Less successful is the standard CUE infotainment interface. It consists of a beautifully rendered central touchscreen that mimics the interface of a smartphones and tablets, while a bank of buttons below the screen commands climate and audio functions. Both the screen and the physical buttons provide so-called haptic feedback by pulsing to confirm your touch, which isn't to everyone's liking. Plus, we've found that the system can be slow to respond, sometimes even failing to register the input entirely. Moreover, its virtual controls can seem unintuitive, especially when you're trying to make adjustments at speed. In our experience, most rival interfaces are easier and more gratifying to use.
Taller passengers will find the ATS-V sedan's backseat on the cramped side, more so than in other small luxury sedans. The BMW M3 or Mercedes C63 are better choices if you plan to use the rear quarters on a regular basis. Likewise, the ATS-V coupe's backseat is also smaller than average, but shoppers of two-door cars are generally more forgiving in this regard. There's no ignoring that the ATS-V's 10.4 cubic feet of trunk space is less than that of its rivals.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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