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2013 Cadillac ATS Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Owner Pros and Cons by markkhoury



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Reviewed: 2013 Cadillac ATS

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Why the 2013 Cadillac ATS?


"But, it's a Cadillac..." This was invariably said, with disdain, whenever I showed friends the Cadillac ATS. The comedians among them asked "how big are the cup holders"; others volunteered that they "would never consider American". Telling: until they said that, I had forgotten that this was an "American" car. Through an innovative promotion, GM Canada ran a program that gave social media "influencers" an ATS to live with for three days. No strings attached, no requirements whatsoever. I found this confident, non-traditional marketing approach to be a strong sign of Cadillac's seriousness about breaking into the tough 3-series/A4/C-Class segment. The other sign is... the ATS itself. This is a serious machine: an all-new RWD chassis, Nordshleife-tuned and buttoned down. It's no re-skin of some corporate product (I'm looking at you Lincoln MKZ, gorgeous though that skin may be). First impression: it is strikingly stylish! Pictures do show its beauty, but not enough. The style is double-take understated, like a classic Ermenedillo Zegna suit rather than a showy Dolce & Gabana. It manages to combine fluidity and motion along with masculine confidence. Nice stance, with the all-important short front overhangs. In all the different places, venues, events, scenarios I had the car, I felt just-right stylish without being in-your-face about it. That sloped, coupe-like rear window gives a sexy overall shape for the Cadillac creases to do their work in. That sloped roof, brilliantly, does not impede on rear-seat headroom. All 6'2" of me sat upright comfortably (we'll address leg room later). The rest of the interior matches the exterior in style, and out-Audis Audi in material quality - by a titch (TM: John Phillips). The center console is elegant, and the white contrast-stitching on the seats *and dash* push the ATS up a category. It's a driving station you enjoy spending time in. Which is good, because driving the ATS is thoroughly enjoyable. Having owned a lineup of 3-series-TSX-1-series-TSX, with short periods of S4 and a period of selling BMWs, what I value most in the latter is how everything works as a whole. The controls work for and with the driver. The accurate steering, easy-to-modulate brakes, good sightlines. That black-magic BMW suspension that gives a controlled, comfortable ride, with buttoned-down handling. Apply these descriptions as-is to the ATS. What a chassis! It has higher limits than what you can reach in an urban setting, so every commute is a blast. It is difficult to induce over- or understeer. When I did find its limits, all four wheels briefly broke loose together, in a controlled manner. Extremely gratifying. Hello Nissan? we need that "4-Door Sports Car" moniker. This chassis is more fun than any Audi sedan, on par with the 3-series. Cadillac's focus on weight control shows. The chassis is playful, the directional changes quick. My ATS had the base 2.5L engine. Let's just say it's "adequate". The real ATS engine is the 2L Turbo (now a Ward's 10-best engine). Two minor and one major flaws detract from the ATS experience. The major flaw qualifies as a full-on #FAIL. CUE sucks. CUE is the set of all secondary controls, and stands for "Cadillac User Experience". Note that it doesn't say anything about the experience being good. It isn't. Some controls you have to sliiiide your finger along to activate; doesn't work, turns out a touch was enough, then over there you don't touch, you press on the screen; this control is okay with gloves, this other not. Wait, it is. Even when you press/touch/slide correctly, you're not sure it worked. You look at the screen. Did it change? Is the seat heater on? No. Try again, hold longer. There. What was that? Turn down the radio. Down. Turn down! Hold on, concentrate. Sliiiiide

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