In case you haven’t noticed, Cadillac is not fooling around anymore. Granted, the change did not happen overnight-this has been a progression that has spanned a couple decades, but over time Cadillac has slowly but surely made their target clear-BMW. The well-received and strong selling CTS was always a fine car, and a promising sign of things to come from Cadillac, but in terms of size and price, it didn’t really match up well with the German competition it so badly wanted to beat. If Cadillac were to beat the Germans at their own game, it would have to be a head to head battle. So the CTS grew up to suit up against the BMW 5-Series, and the new ATS was aimed squarely at the sport sedan gold standard, the BMW 3-Series.
I’ve had the honor of driving both the ATS and current generation 3-Series, and even as a former BMW owner, I preferred the ATS. So, as Cadillac continues to zero in on BMW, it should come as no shock an ATS Coupe is going to arrive in showrooms late this summer. The ATS Coupe features its own unique bodywork, sits 1″ lower than the ATS sedan and is a tad longer. Pricing starts at $38,990USD. Buyers can choose between a 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder rated at 272hp or a 3.6L V-6 rated at 321hp. As for the gearbox, you can pick from either a six-speed manual or automatic. And the wheels that put the power to the pavement? Your choice, rear or all wheel drive.
Don’t sneeze at the price. In fact, take note of it. The most basic ATS Coupe is more powerful and cheaper than the BMW 4-Series coupe, the Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C250 Coupe. But the larger question is, as Generation X’ers grow older and attain wealth, will they ignore the stigma of the Cadillac Brougham their grandparents drove when they were kids when the BMW E-30 3-Series was the benchmark sport sedan? Or look at the ATS as a legitimate contender? That is one heck of a marketing task that Cadillac has to face. And I emphasize marketing. The car is good. The designers and engineers have built a fine car that can beat the Germans.
Finally, the ATS Coupe is not cheap, but as a premium luxury coupe, has a reasonable price. As I have preached to the readers of The Garage for the past few years, Cadillac is legit, and deserves your consideration. But what is lacking is a halo car. Last summer I was sitting on a rooftop at Chelsea Piers in New York City, sipping a Pinot Grigio staring at one of the most gorgeous cars I have ever seen-the Cadillac Elmiraj concept.
Cadillac, I applaud you for cranking out some very fine cars. And the ATS Coupe looks to be a great addition. But show us you are the premier American luxury car maker, and give us the Elmiraj. I know profits will be slim, but this is the car you need to cement your brand against the best car makers of the world.