2013 Cadillac ATS: The V6 Option
September 6, 2013
On a recent trip to Michigan, I spent a good, long stint in a 2013 Cadillac ATS. Sound familiar? There's a wrinkle here. This Michigan car was equipped with the optional V6 as opposed to the 2.0-liter turbo-four in our long-term ATS.
Here are my observations.
As you might expect, the 3.6-liter V6 is quite effective at turning the ATS into a little rocket. 321 horsepower will do that. But it's not as though the 2.0 Turbo is slow. The bigger difference is that the V6 is more linear at the pedal than the turbo-four. It's crisp at part-throttle, and the torque is abundant.
The autobox plays along, too. There's little torque converter slack and it exhibits a willingness to drop gears when the occasion arises. Still, as in most cars, I'd like to try the V6 with a manual gearbox. Certainly the take rate of such a combination would be so low as to not be worth GM's while, which is why it isn't offered in the first place.
Both engines suit the car's character well, in different ways. The V6 does sound great, though. I made a habit of exploring the tach's upper reaches even when it wasn't strictly necessary. It loves revs yet pulls well even when starting from freeway speeds (rural Michigan is, well, rural...).
This V6 is not a new engine in GM's portfolio but they've made ongoing tweaks and enhancements to it over the years, and it shows. I did notice a bit more substance at the front end due to the heavier powertrain but by no means does the V6 upset the ATS's chassis. Checking the numbers now, it seems that compared to the 2.0 Turbo with auto, the V6 adds 62 pounds to the front axle and a few more at the rear, giving it a touch more front weight bias. Apparently, it's enough weight to notice but not enough to spoil.
So, which engine would I go for, V6 or 2.0 Turbo? It's a question I've been juggling for a while. I think the V6 is a better-executed powertrain. It just feels more natural and linear in the ATS. However, I also appreciate the lighter feel to the four-cylinder ATS. The V6 also commands an additional $1,800 over the turbo-four (and is rated 2 mpg less on the combined cycle).
In the end I think both powertrains have their place in the ATS, and it seems buyers have already beaten me to this conclusion. Cadillac's peeps tell me that ATS sales have been split more equitably between those two powertrains than even they expected.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor