November 2, 2013

The Amazing Cadillac ATS 2.0T.

Yep, she's a beaut!

When I'm doing software contracts, I often end up travelling a LOT. Extensive travel is challenging, but there are ways of making it more enjoyable.

One of the ways I make my work travels more fun is by asking one simple question whenever I go up to the Enterprise car rental counter at the airport:
"Do you have anything… FUN?"

Over the past few weeks, I've gotten to drive a Dodge Charger, a Mustang convertible, and a Camaro convertible. It's only a few dollars a day extra to upgrade; I pay the extra and bill the original amount to my clients.

This week, I got a car that wouldn't have been my first choice, but ended up blowing just about every other rental I've ever had out of the water. It was...

...The Cadillac ATS 2.0T.

I know, right? A Cadillac? Really?


The ATS is a physically attractive car - it has sharp, masculine lines that are aerodynamic. It also has a very simple, elegant shape without any tacky body cladding or fake port holes (I'm looking at you, Pontiac and Buick!)

When I got inside, I was absolutely blown away. Comfortable, supportive leather seats which adjusted enough to give my 6'3" 220lb frame plenty of room. High-quality matte and glossy black plastics lined the interior. A few brushed aluminum panels graced the interior, pleasantly breaking up the otherwise monochromatic interior appearance.

My favourite interior feature was actually something Cadillac LEFT OUT.

There was absolutely NO awful faux wood trim on the interior. I HATE faux wood trim in cars. Unfortunately, I've seen this in late-model Hondas, Buicks, Acuras, and Infinitis. It's horrible, visually distracting, and really ages a car interior's appearance. Cadillac did right on the car I got this week - the black and aluminum interior was perfect. Ugh, as I write this, the Chrysler 300 I just picked up has faux wood trim. DIE, I say!

The Caddy's touchscreen entertainment system surprised me. I'm an old-school knobs-and-dials kinda guy. Hell, I still buy CDs. I don't like touchscreens in cars because you can't operate them by touch alone - you have to look at them to use them. However - Cadillac's system is the first touchscreen interface I've used that I like. It's intuitive, responsive, and it has a delightful tactile-feedback feature. When you touch the screen or one of the touch control buttons on the console, your finger receives a small vibration as feedback.

I also loved the steering wheel-mounted controls - very easy to use and very well laid out.

I have to admit, when I first looked at the car, I missed seeing the "2.0T" on the trunk lid. I assumed it was a V6. I also figured that it was front-wheel drive (which I loathe) - I couldn't see the rear differential when I looked under the car.

I got in the ATS and headed out from the airport for the 90-minute drive to my hotel. Once I exited the airport, I decided to see what the ATS could do. So on my first merge onto the highway, I did what any red-blooded North American male would do.

I floored it.


The engine revved up high, and I was pressed hard into my seat. I found myself having to do a brief slalom between other cars on the road as I dealt with the unexpected acceleration! Not only did the ATS blow my socks off with its acceleration - it did so with both grace and sure-footedness. It handled like it was on rails! I was supremely impressed with how Cadillac hit the mark here - a powerful engine, excellent responsive and smooth shifting, and almost magical handling that combined luxurious comfort and quiet with sports car level handling. Being a Cadillac, I was expecting a boat-like ride with lots of body roll, but there was none of that here. Truly amazing!

When I got to my hotel, after I unloaded my luggage, I noticed the "2.0T" on the trunk.


Was that exhilarating drive powered by a 4-banger?! I couldn't believe it. It has a turbo, but still - what an impressive engine.

The last 4-banger turbo I drove was my beloved 1988 Pontiac Grand Am SE Turbo. It was a 2.0L turbo engine that turned an otherwise grandmotherly car into a speed demon. I remember smoking many a souped-up car off the line with that girl.

Clearly, time has been good to automotive engineering - this 2.0L Caddy engine is hot!

A quick google search in my hotel confirmed the engine specs, and also confirmed that the Caddy is indeed rear-wheel drive - which explained the amazing handling and complete lack of torque steer. For you numbers folks, the ATS 2.0T engine puts out 272 horses, and 260 pounds of torque. Very, very impressive.

So if you're looking for a practical, fun, fuel-efficient, luxurious, high-quality car, I would seriously consider the Cadillac ATS. It's a sleeper car, for sure!

And if you find yourself at a car rental counter - follow my advice and always ask, "Do you have anything FUN?"

If they hand you the keys to a Cadillac ATS, buckle up, and have your wallet ready. 

You'll need it to pay for all the speeding tickets you're gonna get.