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2016 Cadillac ATS-V: The Ultimate Sleeper

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On: Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 10:42AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


2016 Cadillac ATS-V:  The Ultimate Sleeper

In the past, Cadillac was known simple to the ultimate expression of American luxury. They were big cars for people with big wallets, and that was about it. Slow, soft-riding, plush interior, and a floaty suspension that made them a dream to cruise down the highway in, and a nightmare to do much else with. Cadillacs were a badge of honor for an honest working man who had finally 'made it' in life, and was a testament that they had, in fact, been a bit self-indulgent, and rewarded themselves for whatever their bread-winning achievements may have been at the time. Back then, sleeper cars were made out of cars like Chevelles, Novas, or even Impalas. No one would've thought to make a sleeper out of an expensive Cadillac.

Fast forward a few decades, and, due to increased competition at the luxury level from a multitude of international challengers—Mercedes, BMW, Infiniti, Acura, and the like—the GM luxury brand realized that it had to change its persona, because the typical American wanted something a little more than a four-wheeled pillow to drive on Sundays. BMW's M-Division showed the world that wealth didn't mean you didn't have a pulse. Soon after, Mercedes joined the fray with its AMG in-house hot-rodding, and other luxury brands began trying to cash in on the upscale speed freak market. Right around the turn of the century, Cadillac gave it their first crack with the Altezza, "The Caddy that zigs," and suffice it to say they needed to go back to the drawing board. To their credit, they did with tenacity and came up only a few years later with their V-line, and its first model, the CTS-V. It was a genius idea, using a very simple concept: Take their fastest car and, essentially, drop a Cadillac body on it. The CTS-V became, essentially, a four-door Corvette ZO6, and it was wonderful.

Fast forward another decade, and Cadillac's V-line is still kicking tailpipe and taking names. The CTS-V is still battling BMW's M5 for sedan supremacy, and now the General has set its sights on the M3/M4 with the 2016 ATS-V. On the outside, roll up to one of these understated monsters, and it may looks as though a normal ATS is out taking a stroll; but look closer, and you'll start to understand just why you got left staring at quad tailpipes accelerating out of sight. Most Cadillacs you might remember don't have what amounts to a carbon fiber body kit from the factory, including a front splitter, rear spoiler, hood extractor, and rocker panel extensions to help expedite airflow, and increase downforce. Most Cadillacs don't have a hood that has a built-in air extractor to reduce underhood pressure and lift, nor do they have V-forged aluminum wheels that do a poor job of hiding massive 14.6-inch front/13.3-inch rear Brembo brakes, and that snarl coming out of those quad exhaust tips seem a little out of the ordinary too, doesn't it?

Scary thing is, those little subtleties are only the tip of the iceberg. Underneath that mild-mannered exterior lies a drivetrain of super-human proportions. Almost everything has been upgraded. The bracings, ball joints, bushings are all better than standard, as are the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, and the Magnetic Ride Control dampers, and even the aluminum panel under the engine that helps to stiffen the chassis and increase aerodynamics. Speaking of that engine, while we wouldn't have minded seeing a Corvette V8 in this M-fighter, the engine Cadillac chose isn't all that bad. It may be a coincidence that Caddy chose the exact same style of engine that powers its targeted Bavarian enemy, but, if we were betting, odds are it may have been planned. A 3.6-liter DOHC twin-turbo V6 that sports a forged crank and titanium connecting rods has all the makings of a very serious auto all-star. Putting down a sickening 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque, it's no real surprise those numbers eclipse its Bimmer rival's, is it? Backing up all that power is a choice of either a paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic or a good 'ole fashioned 6-speed manual.

The ATS-V also has a host of racing tech that all try to give you an edge on the street or at the track. Things like launch control that help the V do its best NHRA impersonation. No Lift Shift allows the driver of the manual transmission-equipped car to upshift without taking his foot off the throttle, and Active Rev Matching essentially does the heel-toe shifting for you. All of these fun pieces make for one hell of a ride. The ATS-V flat out hauls. 0–60 mph takes 3.9 seconds flat, 0–100 mph takes 9.6 seconds, and the quarter mile flies by in 12.3 seconds @ 114.6 mph, on the way to a top speed of 189 mph. Not bad for a car that your grandfather used to drive, huh? But while drag races are important to win, Cadillac wanted the ATS-V to be able to run circles around the M3/M4, literally. Around the skidpad, the ATS-V posted a solid 0.98g, and can brake from 60-0 mph takes only 103 feet.

Inside the ATS-V you'll probably notice the optional Recaro seats; sure they will cost an additional $2,300, but they are well worth it. After that, aside from some red accents and a speedometer that seems to move faster than expected, you'll be hard pressed to notice too much of a difference from your garden-variety ATS. There is a thick-rimmed steering wheel, carbon fiber trim, magnesium paddle shifters, and a programmable infotainment center. Four drive modes are available (Tour, Sport, Track, and Snow/Ice). The ATS-V even offers an on-board performance data recorder. A head-up display lets you keep your eyes on the road, and other little things like wireless charging, a premium Bose sound system, and safety features like side blind-zone alert, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, and smart headlights all let you use your Caddy everyday, like, well, a Cadillac. Fuel mileage does take a hit with a fire-breathing engine like the one in the ATS-V, but with only 3,760 pounds to haul around the Caddy gets a fairy reasonable 16/24/18 city/highway/combined MPG. Not great, but considering you're driving a nearly 11-second hot rod that you can also drive a date to a Broadway show in without having to explain anything, something's got to give somewhere.

Base price for this super-Caddy is $62,665 and can go up to almost 80 grand for a fully optioned model. That kind of money may seem high, but when it's compared to its rivals, it is about right. And thinking about what you're getting for your money, it isn't hard to justify cutting that down payment check. The ATS-V is a car that basically has it all. Speed, performance, power, and agility to compete with the best speedsters on the planet. But, on top of that, it also has the level of luxury and status that will get its driver accepted into any country club or five-star restaurant without a second glance. And while most people will go about their day thinking you are driving a humdrum car like their grandparents drove, it's almost a shame you won't be able to see the look on their faces when you leave them in the dust in the best sleeper in the world, almost.

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