Before You Buy An Audi Or BMW, Consider The Cadillac ATS

America serves up a car that goes head-to-head with European heavyweights. But how does it fare?

Damien Reid May 11, 2014

Habits are hard to break. You walk into the supermarket and you buy the same bread, same cereal and the same eggs because you know where they are and they’ll satisfy the breakfast needs. Job done.

But what if there was a different cereal sitting where your normal brand resides on the shelf? Could your brain handle that sort of disruption to your weekly schedule?

For many it’s the same with buying cars especially at the lower end of the premium prestige scale. You have a brief of elegant luxury, great handling and a beefy engine in a compact package so once again you will drive away in a BMW 3 Series or an Audi A4 – or something German anyway.

But hang on, what’s that new player in the corner? It’s about the same size as the Germans and I’m told handles rather well, but it’s American. CadillacATS1

When I stepped into the Cadillac ATS recently, I felt like I’ve been missing out on some inside information because let’s be fair, when you think small, you don’t think Cadillac and yet here I was behind the wheel of a car that ticked all my Euro-inspired checklist points – and for the sake of the argument we’ll thrown in the Japanese Lexus ES350 as well – and loving it.

Sure, it doesn’t have the ultimate handling capabilities of the 3 Series because that remains the benchmark in this class and still loses out marginally on performance to the top-line bimmer and A4, but boy do I like the rest of it. And for the daily commute sitting in traffic commuting between home and office and the supermarket on weekends, you won’t be missing those engineering bonus points too much, although it does boast a perfect 50:50 weight distribution.

Engine: 3.6-litre V6 Power: 321bhp Torque: 259Nm Trans: 6-speed auto 0-100kmh: 7.5 secs Top speed: 208kmh (est) Price: AED 135,000

Power comes from a 321bhp, 3.6-litre V6 running through a 6-speed auto with paddle shifts while the interior now has Caddy’s brilliant Apple-inspired CUE-infotainment package which uses an 8-inch display with captive touch that sends a pulse to your finger when you press functions on the screen. It’s all set against high gloss piano black features and brushed alloy highlights throughout. It just oozes class.

Aside from CUE, new for 2014 on the ATS is the inclusion of GM’s Intellibeam automatic high-beam control that dips when it detects approaching cars and swivels when going around corners.