The Car Connection Cadillac ATS-V Overview
The Cadillac ATS-V puts performance on the front burner for GM's luxury brand and its lineup of sedans and coupes.
New in 2015 as a 2016 model, the latest ATS-V comes in both four- and two-door body styles. The differences between them are few, though coupes have a wider rear track for better handling.
MORE: Read our 2018 Cadillac ATS-V review
Essentially a replacement for the Cadillac CTS-V, which grew in its latest generation, the ATS-V is now Cadillac's entry-level performance car, and it squares off against the BMW M3/M4 and the Mercedes-AMG C63.
The latest ATS-V takes the same shape from the Cadillac ATS and adds higher horsepower, sharper styling, and a plusher interior for a focused and luxurious performance variant.
Both models wear wider front and rear fenders; new front and rear end designs, including lower, more aggressive aerodynamic elements; new rear spoilers; and V-series badges. Unique wheels and wide, high-performance tires complete the exterior look.
Inside, the ATS-V models get carbon fiber-look trim (optional) or the standard wood/metal available in other ATS models, as well as leather and, optionally, sueded leather.
The real story with Cadillac's ATS-V line isn’t the look—it’s the performance. Leveraging lessons learned in the development of the new Corvette Stingray for performance traction control and rear differential tuning, the ATS-V coupe and sedan also receive a new engine: a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque. That engine can be mated to either an 8-speed automatic (also shared with the Corvette) or a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The resulting performance is brisk, indeed: 0-60 mph takes just 3.8 seconds, and top speed is 189 mph.
Handling is also a strong suit of the ATS-V, with magnetic dampers adjusting for on-road comfort, crisper handling, or track-rated duty. It's not just capable, but very fast, and satisfying to drive in a way that even the vaunted BMW M3/M4 duo are not. Thanks to the advanced Performance Traction Management system, the ATS-V is also very approachable and confidence-inspiring, too, something that’s rare in the nearly-500-horsepower range.
Under all of the V-series glitz and glamour, however, there remains what is fundamentally a very well-built and well-specified luxury sedan (or coupe). Like the standard ATS, the ATS-V line offers Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, which, while much-maligned in its earliest variants, has become quicker to respond and easier to use—though it still has another development cycle or two to catch the more mature German infotainment offerings.
Because of that shared foundation with the standard ATS range, the ATS-V, while not separately tested in crash ratings, shares a five-star score by the NHTSA for overall, frontal, side-crash, and rollover protection. The IIHS hasn’t yet rated the ATS or ATS-V for its crashworthiness.
The ATS-V is predictably thirsty for a performance car, managing around 19 mpg depending on transmission and model year.
For 2017, changes to the ATS-V were limited to an optional Carbon Black Sport Package that brought with it a revised front fascia and dark finish wheels, as well as suede trim for the steering wheel and gear shift lever. In 2018, Cadillac updated the ATS-V's CUE infotainment system but otherwise left things alone.