Someone who spends any significant amount of time in New York City tends to forget that a car can be about more than just getting around. In the case of the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V —which I spent a few days driving in Austin— enjoying the car’s 464 horses seems much more important than just getting where you are going.
Much has been said recently about Cadillac’s reinvention. I’ve come to know the brand well through Cadillac’s involvement in the fashion and more directly through a sponsorship with ACL. Though Cadillac didn’t direct me to post about the ATS-V or this drive, that was entirely up to me at my discretion. But by virtue of this partnership I’ve had a particularly interesting perch to see a bit of the transformation the brand has undergone. Over the past year, I’ve been to several Cadillac events which never ended up on the site. I have been interested in getting to know what is really happening with the automaker. And after my Austin experience driving the ATS-V it’s very clear that Cadillac has figured out how to make cars which are both fun to drive and not lacking in personality.
Both the six speed manual or automatic variants of the ATS-V make for an exciting and responsive car. With the V-Series comes plenty of power — enough to do whatever you could possibly (legally?) want to do. It’s also got a top speed of 189 and comes track-ready right out of the box. That track tech is probably something few of us will ever use on an actual organized raceway, but it’s fun to know you’ve got the capability should you want it. The interior is comfortable and modern, with nice high-end touches but not overdone in a way that would make the ATS-V stand out too much. In a way, this car is sort of a sleeper. At first glance it looks nice, but it’s not super obvious how much is under the hood in terms of performance upgrades — down to the Brembo brakes. From a styling perspective the ATS has evolved nicely to incorporate a lot of Cadillac’s new personality including the updated crest (which I love compared to the past versions) and incorporates a softer approach to the angular lines which have come to define the brand in the decade. It seems to me that what Cadillac is doing with the V-Series needs to be respected.
As someone who was raised in Ohio the son and grandson of men who saw Cadillac as the standard bearer, my connections to the company go far beyond the surface. But geographic or historical connections can only go so far, at the end of the day these cars have to stand on their own against the many other options that are out in the world. And there’s no question many people have many opinions about such matters. But there’s no way to fly home from Texas after a couple of days in the ATS-V and be the same person. That’s just the effect a car as fun can have on someone. If this is the future of America’s most iconic luxury brand, then I would say the road ahead for Cadillac seems clear. Especially if the view is from an ATS-V.