Yes they have — and by that we mean Cadil­lac’s tur­bocharged the ATS. It isn’t just a blast to drive, it is also still a re­fined and classy lit­tle sa­loon, but do we pre­fer more cylin­ders, asks wheels’ Im­ran Ma­lik

Friday - - Con­tents -

If I am buy­ing an ATS, I’ll go straight for the V-Se­ries coupé, thanks. I like two doors and lu­di­crous amounts of power so the twin-turbo V6 is just right for me. And I pre­fer the smaller body style more than a sa­loon; the lat­ter is bur­dened with the added re­spon­si­bil­ity of be­ing able to eas­ily ac­com­mo­date peo­ple in them. Peo­ple are an­noy­ing. I drive alone with the mu­sic stored on my USB for com­pany, but when pre­sented with this doorier 2017 ATS pack­ing a new tur­bocharged 2.0-litre four-cylin­der, a chance arose to see if this would be a case of four-doors good, two-doors bad... How­ever, I couldn’t find any­body that needed a lift — so, I cranked up the vol­ume. Alone with the most-pow­er­ful turbo-four com­pact lux­ury sa­loon in its class (it’s more po­tent than the sim­i­larly en­gined of­fer­ings from BMW and Merc...), I had a whale of a time. 272 horses un­der my right foot and 400Nm of torque shoot­ing the Cad­die for­wards with blis­ter­ing pace at will sure in­duced a wide grin. The V6 was a dis­tant mem­ory; this one was prov­ing lots of fun, but it wasn’t just down to the re­spon­sive mo­tor. To be hon­est, a very large per­cent­age of it was; with it de­liv­er­ing 90 per cent of its peak torque from 2,100rpm and sup­ported by 18psi of boost, the Cad­die proved ex­hil­a­rat­ing to drive – but with a driver-fo­cused cabin packed with tech­nol­ogy com­ple­ment­ing the stylish and edgy ex­te­rior, there wasn’t much to re­ally dis­like here. But then I turned around and no­ticed the space – rather, lack of – in the sec­ond row. Was a good job I didn’t ask any six-foot­ers if they needed to be dropped off as knee-room sure looked to be at a pre­mium. And, as our tester was the base vari­ant, there might not have been much in terms of fancy trim (no Al­can­tara any­where; that ATS coupé Pre­mium Lux­ury was smoth­ered with the stuff...), nor did it have a sun­roof or re­vers­ing cam­era – but it did have Brembo front brakes, a per­for­mance­tuned ZF steer­ing and a snappy eight-speed au­to­matic as stan­dard. You know, the things that ac­tu­ally mat­ter to drivers. With a light­weight ar­chi­tec­ture, it was a thrill to chuck from left to right and still have it dis­play its ex­cel­lent road man­ners and keep roll to a min­i­mum. The finely

tuned chas­sis kept things in order (the wide front and rear tracks re­ally helped in this re­gard) and with a near 50:50 weight dis­tri­bu­tion it proved a very well-balanced car with good agility and driver feed­back. And with it pack­ing di­rect in­jec­tion and dual over­head camshafts with con­tin­u­ously vari­able valve tim­ing, this isn’t just a peppy mo­tor; with it also get­ting stop-start tech­nol­ogy, it’s fru­gal too and sips back a claimed 7.58 litres per 100km on the high­way.

There are quite a few tight-han­dling, medium size sporty sa­loons out there to choose from. You’ve got the 3 Se­ries (which has more rear seat room than the ATS), then there’s the C-Class (which has ar­guably the best cabin in the seg­ment). Throw in the likes of the A4, XE and IS and that’s a tough group in any­one’s book, but the fact that the Cad­die shines in this bril­liant bunch says it all. It’s able to dis­tin­guish it­self in such fine com­pany and though it may have de­buted back in 2013 and is still in its first gen­er­a­tion, it’s right up there with the best. From the lively steer­ing, nim­ble han­dling and at­trac­tive sheet metal, it has a lot go­ing for it – and now, with a smaller tur­bocharged en­gine, it’s more ef­fi­cient but still just as en­joy­able to drive. So it just gets bet­ter and bet­ter for the ATS. How­ever, down­siz­ing just isn’t for me and as I said, if I were to buy one, I’d want mine with the pep­pier mo­tor Cadil­lac of­fers. Al­though those sorts of shenani­gans aren’t very ‘Cadil­lac’ – a brand that per­son­i­fies re­fine­ment and lux­ury – it’s that vari­ant that I’m more at­tracted to over this one. But that’s just me. Re­mem­ber, I’m weird. My only friend is my USB...

From the lively steer­ing, NIM­BLE HAN­DLING and at­trac­tive sheet metal, it has a LOT go­ing for it – and now, with a smaller tur­bocharged en­gine, it’s more ef­fi­cient but still just as EN­JOY­ABLE to drive

The 2017 ATS has a Bose pre­mium sur­round sound au­dio and the im­proved Cadil­lac CUE in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem

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