Cadillac's 2017 ATS-V is the Cadillac that many thought Cadillac would never build. It's a high-performance compact coupe or sedan with a radar lock on cars such as the Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 and the BMW M3 and M4. It's all about power, intuitive reactions from a well-tuned and chassis, and an appearance that boldly announces its ability. Introduced for the 2016 model year, the ATS-V is the Cadillac you're least likely to see wearing a vinyl "carriage roof" or wide whitewall tires. If your white shoes match your white belt or you think about restoring a 1978 Coupe de Ville, then the ATS-V might not be for you.
There aren't many big changes between the 2016 and 2017 editions of the ATS-V. The beating heart of the ATS-V is a twin-turbocharged version of GM's ubiquitous 3.6-liter V6. The ATS-V's engine is related to the similar-spec version used in its big brother, the CTS V-Sport, where it packs 420 horsepower. But thanks to, among other things, revised turbos and trick, lightweight connecting rods, the ATS-V's powerplant is engorged to the tune of 464 horsepower. That's 39 more hp than the M3's turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder puts out and 39 hp less than the AMG C63 S' turbo 4.0-liter V8. The muscular engine offered in the ATS-V is lashed to either a six-speed manual transmission with a slick rev-matching feature or an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Acceleration of this rear-wheel-drive missile is awesome. The 0-60 mph time is near 4.0 seconds, with a quarter-mile blitz taking about 12.5 seconds. Try matching that with a 1984 Eldorado Biarritz.
Still, as wonderfully powerful as the engine is, what Cadillac has done best with this car is tune the suspension. The rear differential is super trick, the shock absorbers use GM's brilliant Magnetic Ride Control, and the tires are Michelin's gooey soft Pilot Super Sports that are like barnacles on pavement. Throw in great steering and Brembo brakes that could stop a runaway 747, and the result is high-level automotive entertainment.
Fuel economy is about what one should expect with this high level of performance. The EPA rates the automatic-equipped ATS-V at 20 mpg combined (17 city/25 highway). The manual ATS-V is a tick behind at 19 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway).
There's not much room in the ATS-V's rear seat, and some of the interior elements are aesthetically warring with one another, but the quality of the drive makes up for all of that. Still, watch what boxes you tick on the options sheet. You'll want the Recaro seats. But consider skipping the expensive carbon-fiber body pieces.
Sport sedans such as the ATS-V aren't delicate, but the balance between wicked performance and everyday comfort is difficult to sustain. So let Edmunds help you fine-tune your instincts and choose the one that's right for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.