During the first weekend of January, I had the chance to test drive the brand new award-winning (Luxury Car of the Year by the AJAC) 2013 Cadillac ATS.
When I learnt that I was offered a Cadillac for a weekend, I thought to myself, cool, but perhaps cooler in summer I thought, since I drive an all wheel drive car year round.
Me driving the ATS
Truth be told, the idea to test drive a car in the middle of winter didn’t sound quite right. I even wondered if this was even a real offer! However, as I would soon find out was I glad I kept an open mind about it all.
On Friday, January 4, at 9 o’clock, I saw a shiny red sedan arrive at my door. This was for real! I briefly met with the representative, he gave me the keys and off I went!
So this is sweet, I have the use for 3 days of the "Luxury" version (ATS is available in four versions: Base, Luxury, Performance and Premium). The big picture, a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 321 horsepower, alloy wheels 17 ", high performance front brakes calipers Brembo, navigation system CUE (bluetooth, USB ports ….. ), in short, a well-equipped model which is retailed for a little over $ 40,000.
As for the interior, I was immediately struck by the quality of this car on the inside. The details such as the leather quality, the vast use of it, even on the dashboard, was impressive. I loved the little details like the stitching, which adds prestige and contrast. In fact, I really liked the interior overall. The only downside I would say was the interface to control temperature ect which is now a ‘touch screen’ which I think maybe quite problematic when driving since it takes more attention to use it accurately at least compared to traditional controls. I don’t know if I am sold on the ‘touch screen’ idea and wonder how it will last in the long term (for those like me who love their cars longer). But all in all I can’t say it doesn’t look really good.
It was time to roll! The first day I drove it in town in the afternoon and in the evening I went for a run on the North Shore of Montreal. I enjoyed driving the vehicle; good engine, which generates superb sound and the exhaust note was never obnoxious enough to disturb those around. The ride is firm and nice (to my personal taste, it could still be a little firmer but this was the luxury model).
With Brembo calipers, there is nothing wrong with the braking: it definitely will STOP when you ask it to! As I said at the beginning, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy a fairly powerful rear-wheel drive car in winter conditions. You know we have this old image or perhaps bias as to what a Cadillac is. For many a ‘Caddy’ is a boat. We forget that we’re in 2013 and that Cadillac has evolved! There is technology here in spades. The car is equipped with the traction control and you can even disable it. On the version I drove with the automatic transmission, you can select three modes: mode « touring » (normal) , « sport » and finally « snow and ice. »
I tested in the snow and in dry conditions, with and without the traction control on and in the three modes. I must admit for a guy like me who loves to play in the snow with my all-wheel drive car, I was frankly very pleasantly surprised at the behavior of the car. This was mostly true except perhaps in the last hours of possession of the car while the snow was very wet but it was probably due to the Michelin x-ice tires the car is equipped with which are designed for ice and deeper snow, the drainage channels seem less pronounced.
My second day with the car, I decided to roll! I first left home in Montreal to pick up a friend in Laval, then to the Montreal-Trudeau Airport (YUL) airport, from there I headed-up to Tremblant.
On the highway, I liked the driving behavior of the ATS. The cabin is quiet and comfortable. The car is equipped with a navigation system, Bluetooth, USB, CUE. All in all effective, but sometimes I ask myself: we are not allowed to use our cell phones while driving for obvious reasons of security. But on the other hand, they install touch screens in the dashboard to control everything, and I do not know about you, I think it captures my attention more while driving than my cell phone at the time when it could still use it, matter of habit I guess …
On the highway, I liked the driving behavior of the ATS. The cabin is quiet and comfortable. The car is equipped with a navigation system, Bluetooth, USB, CUE. All in all effective, but sometimes I asked myself: we are not allowed to use our cell phones while driving for obvious reasons but on the other hand, they install touch screens in the dashboard to control everything. I do not know if this is true for most but I think using a touch screen takes more attention away from the road when driving than using your cell phone or perhaps it’s a question of just getting used to it.
Overall, I respected the speed limit, but, the ramps, I took the opportunity to test the acceleration capabilities of this lovely V6 3.6L 321 horsepower. I loved the quick response of this engine (compared to the 5 cylinder engine, only slightly less powerful on paper, but Turbo of my own vehicle). But what surprised me is the very reasonable fuel economy for a vehicle of this type. Thumbs up!
Externally, the design of the ATS guideline clearly recall that Cadillac signature used for the last few years now on the other models (CTS, ATX, Escalade), a design that reminds the stealth fighter « Stealth » of the « U.S. Air Force « , that over the years have been refined.
what I liked:
- behavior in the snow even though it’s a rear-wheel drive.
- the overall look of the car
- the design of the interior
- performance and fuel consumption of the V6
what I liked less:
- the driver’s visibility: the A-pillar beams at the two front corners, combined with mirrors, giving the driver a big blind spot that I found disturbing at the intersections when looking to make sure that there is no pedestrians who want to cross over.
- in the center console, there is a hidden compartment under the control panel, and as I explained earlier looking at the touch screen is not always easy to open.
- the performance of the snow tires winter .
- quality long-term (and its repair costs) of the controls « touch screen » style panel (electronics sometimes you know …)
Despite some negatives, I still LOVED the experience I had with this vehicle. I would consider seriously buying it if I intended to change my car soon, and for sure, I would recommend it to anyone thinking about a new luxury sedan in this price range to seriously consider this car!