First Drive Review – 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 3.6 AWD Drives Well, But Lacks Sex Appeal at $55,000 Price







The new ATS Coupe from Cadillac would appear to have all the right stuff – on paper.

But as we griped in an Op-Ed article this summer, the results in the real world are less than thrilling.

How can a new executive coupe be so terminally dull?

Ultimately, we struggle greatly about what benefits the Coupe has over the better-looking sedan. As noted in the video above, the ATS Coupe is theoretically stiffer in the chassis department — and perhaps a bit sportier in its handling tune.

2014 Cadillac ATS Sedan

But it is also very, very small from the inside and boring on the outside. Despite its coupe profile, there is little about the ATS Coupe with a V6 and AWD that makes it feel frisky or playful like a BMW 2 series. That is a big shame, and a huge missed opportunity for Cadillac.

But are all these thoughts just subjective? Does that matter when the goal is delivering a true competitor to BMW Coupes?

Yes, we believe it does.

Overall, the ATS strikes out in three areas where it should be hitting home runs or, at very least, a solid triple or double. Regretfully, the ATS Coupe is a Single in this baseball scenario, or perhaps a walk.


Granted, this loaded ATS might not represent most of the lineup in terms of its $55,000 price. So it does fall close to the top-spec $60,000 price of the ATS V6 AWD Performance versus the base $37,000 of the ATS Coupe 2.0T.

The ATS Coupe is best in either its Premium or Performance trims – but speccing a moonroof or the Driver Assist package like our test car, and you are looking at $58,000 for a coupe that is the size of the BMW 235i. The BMW M235i we loved this summer came with an out-the-door price of $48,000.


We all know from Cadillac’s commercials that the benchmark for the ATS was the BMW 3 series, and now the 4 series as the new two-doors are called. But here is the rub: what generation of the 3 series were they benchmarking? Perhaps a 2009 or so E46 — which was much smaller than the current cars from BMW.

Now that BMW has slid in the 2 Series Coupes into the lineup, they actually match the ATS Coupe much more closely. But the 228i Luxury and M Sport offer varying levels of visual thrills that are absent altogether in the ATS. They are coupes by default, with no sedan in the range. That helps their performance credibility, as well as the unique style they bring.


Is the ATS Coupe cool? Sexy?

This is a serious question, for it matters when competing with the BMW’s and Audi’s of the world — which Cadillac certainly intends to with these prices.

From the factory, there is no cool box to check to get a desirable ATS Coupe.

It is the design of the ATS Coupe and Cadillac’s decisions in its trim and wheels that makes it so boring. The nose, frankly, is not appealing. It is a combination of a too-rounded grille that looks like an old DeVille, with headlights that seem dated already — just a year after the ATS was launched.

From the back, the ATS Coupe is a bit fresher than the sedan — but there is no passion here. Nothing about this design will make buyers love it before they drive it, nor make other freeway drivers do a double take.

The ATS Coupe looks, for all intents and purposes, just like the ATS sedan. But it is smaller and less practical. Without the emotional or performance chops to make it a “want” car, the ATS Coupe seems to miss the strike zone altogether.


All this goes together, really. If the ATS cost $10,000 less across the board, you would forgive its tiny dimensions and aftermarket-ready design. There is potential here — certainly in the amazing way it rides and handles.

But for Coupe shoppers with about $50,000 to spend, rational logic is only part of the buying process. You have to want it. And as it stands, the ATS is a pop fly to the infield — an easy out.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 3.6 AWD



Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.

He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.

Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)

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