2019 Cadillac ATS-V

6.4
2019 Cadillac ATS-V

The Basics:

The  Cadillac ATS-V coupe has avoided the fate of its sedan kin, at least for now. It returns for a final 2019 model year.

The 2019 Cadillac ATS pares down to only a two-door coupe this year as it heads toward the sunset as Cadillac's sporty compact.

A true world-class performance car, the 2019 ATS-V runs off a sub-4-second 0-60 mph time, sports a luxe interior, and wears razor-sharp lines that mirror its finely honed performance.

With the ATS-V, Cadillac competes with the likes of the BMW M3, M4, and Mercedes-AMG C63 without breaking a sweat.

We rate the 2019 ATS-V at 6.4 out of 10. We give it credit for stunning performance and for crisp styling, but it lacks some safety technology that’s standard in other luxury cars, and fuel economy is poor. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The ATS model line has been slimmed down for this year, with only two-doors in the lineup. The spared 2019 ATS-V coupe carries on mostly unchanged from last year, with almost no changes to its muscular look or to its stunning performance.

This is one beefed-up production car that lives up to its billing. The 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6 stomps the road with 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque. Cadillac endowed the ATS-V with a 6-speed manual as standard equipment, and it transforms the base ATS coupe’s handling with myriad upgrades, from a special steering system to a performance exhaust. It’s unflappable on a track, a Camaro SS with a much smarter sense of fashion.

The ATS-V fails on other fronts due to age and mission. The back seat’s minuscule. Its safety systems don’t include automatic emergency braking. Outward vision is poor. And Cadillac has backtracked on warranty coverage: its 3-year, 36,000-mile coverage is mediocre even by economy-car standards.

Keep in mind, this review’s intended for an everyday driver. If you’re interested in what we think of the Cadillac ATS-V as an enthusiast’s machine, check out Motor Authority’s first drive review.

The Cadillac ATS-V has been accused of pedestrian styling. It’s more true for the base cars that go away this year. The ATS-V flaunts its performance with menacing add-ons, from wheels to flares to spoilers.

We rate the ATS-V 7 out of 10 for its tastefully beefed-up looks and comfortably sporty interior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The ATS-V widens and sharpens the unoffensive styling of its non-V cousin. The ATS-V chisels some of the trouble spots, which results in a look that is more identifiable without going over the top.

Inside, Cadillac upgrades the usual ATS cabin with optional Recaro sports seats, available carbon-fiber trim, and sueded leather accents. It takes the tasteful ATS interior into a slightly higher realm.

We have no complaints about the 2019 ATS-V Coupe’s performance. It delivers strong acceleration and plenty of torque, and has a chassis tuned to handle it.

We rate the 2019 ATS-V at 10 out of 10 for its strong acceleration, solid steering feel, fun-to-drive nature, and great transmissions. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The extra-aggro bodywork isn’t just bark here. The Cadillac ATS-V has bite.

The heart of the AT-V is its twin-turbo, 3.6-liter V-6. It pushes 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque out the door to the rear wheels. With a wide power band, the engine is happy to deliver strong acceleration from any speed. It even sounds great, as it broadcasts a pleasing snarl to announce its 3.8-second 0-60 mph run times.

While the ATS-V comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, our choice, the optional 8-speed auto operates so effortlessly that it can hardly be called a compromise.

Hidden beneath all of the angles and sharp lines is a system of structural enhancements that stiffen the already-decent ATS foundation. The ATS-V adds a stiffer rocker bulkhead, upgraded subframe braces, and more under-hood bracing to the mix. The result is a package that delivers neat and confident handling through corners while maintaining a refined and comfortable ride.

A specially-tuned sport suspension with magnetic dampers quickly shores up any body roll and keep the car planted as road surfaces change. The ATS-V also carries a full array of performance equipment, with launch control, Brembo brakes, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, and an electronic limited-slip rear differential. A track performance package is available, complete with carbon fiber trim and a performance data recorder.

We rate the 2019 ATS-V at a 4 out of 10 for comfort and quality. It gains points for comfortable front seats and upscale materials, but loses them for a terrible back seat and measly cargo space. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The standard seats are comfortable and plenty supportive, but the optional Recaro seats have a true race car feel. They aren’t as restrictive as many performance seats, which allows people with a wide range of body types to enjoy the experience.

The ATS’ tiny back seat is an issue. Most won’t buy an ATS-V hoping to chauffeur several people around town, but what’s there is too small and too narrow to comfortably transport medium-sized passengers for medium-length distances. It’s the worst aspect of the ATS, and V-ing it up doesn’t fix anything in terms of space.

Cadillac has done a good job at hiding plastic trim and cheaper materials in the ATS-V. It dons more soft-touch surfaces, more fabrics, and better leather. The only color available inside is black, which can leave the cabin feeling closed-in and smaller than it really is.

Noise levels are in line with what we’d expect from a performance car, which is to say not very quiet, but the ATS-V manages a great deal of restraint and comfort for a sports coupe.

The 2019 ATS-V hasn’t received safety scores from the major ratings agencies yet, so we’ll update this section when it does, if it ever does, which we doubt. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2018 ATS-V was scored at four stars by the NHTSA and 2019’s model should be similarly rated. Cadillac has included some clever safety features like teen driver mode and made many others optional. The optional safety tech list is long, though, with rear cross-traffic alerts, forward collision alerts, and a driver awareness package available.

The ATS-V doesn’t offer automatic emergency braking, and features such as blind-spot monitors come only on the most expensive models.

The 2019 ATS-V is a straightforward muscle-added version of the already well-equipped ATS. Base cars miss out on little, and a wealth of packages and trim let owners spec out a car equally capable on the street or the track.

We rate the 2019 ATS-V at 7 out of 10 for its feature-rich infotainment unit and handful of well thought-out add-on options. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Base ATS-V coupes come with the usual power features, climate control, and a rich-sounding audio system. They don’t have automatic emergency braking, though.

The updated Cadillac User Experience (CUE) system is responsive and colorful. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included in all ATS-V coupes, as well as Onstar with 4G LTE hotspot capabilities. While not as intuitive as it could be at times, the recent updates have moved the system light years forward in usability.

The Luxury packages adds a higher level of everyday utility to the ATS-V, which brings navigation and a universal home remote.

Most enthusiasts will take a long, hard look at the ATS-V’s track package, which bundles features such as a performance data recorder. Cribbed from cousin Chevrolet Corvette's options list, the PDR lets the driver record video, audio, and a wealth of data during high performance driving like a track day or a drag strip.

Cadillac cut its warranty coverage last year, and the ATS-V only comes with 3 years or 36,000 miles of coverage.

It’s unlikely that there are many ATS-V buyers scrutinizing the EPA ratings before purchasing such an unabashed sports coupe, but if they did they’d find that it’s not all that bad. We rate the ATS-V at 4 out of 10 for its fuel consumption. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The ATS-V equipped with 6-speed manual pulls off 17 mpg city, 25 highway, and 20 combined, while the automatic checks in at 16/23/19 mpg.

Buying Tips:

While the 2019 ATS-V coupe comes with a plethora of standard gear, the available luxury or track packages help make it a better daily or performance driver.

Other Choices:

  • 2018 BMW M3
  • 2018 BMW M4
  • 2019 Mercedes-Benz C Class
  • 2019 Lexus RC F

Reason Why:

Cadillac is a legitimate world stage competitor these days, with the ATS-V waving the stars and stripes better than just about anything else. It offers a more raw and fun driving experience than cars such as the BMW M3 and M4, albeit without quite as much rear seat room. We're surprised with how much we like the aggressive Lexus RC F, but its looks aren't for everyone... and it's only offered as a cramped two-door coupe. The Mercedes-AMG C63 offers up its own virtues, like an attractive style and a strong engine—but it doesn't deliver the ATS-V's telepathic steering.

The Bottom Line:

The 2019 Cadillac ATS-V waves goodbye this year, but not before one final two-door blast.

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6.4
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