I drove the 2017 Cadillac ATS-V so long ago I had to check and make sure the car’s still in production. The six-speed manual, six-cylinder twin-turbo, two-door, rear-drive car has been lauded so much on Jalopnik already I almost didn’t bother writing about it. But! It’s been stewing in my mind since and I can finally articulate why.
(Full disclosure: Cadillac had an ATS-V dropped off at my house in Los Angeles in the last quarter of 2017 with a full tank of fuel.)
The ATS-V is one of the most masterfully balanced cars I’ve ever driven.
Not necessarily in the sense that the weight feels well-managed around corners, though. The balance I was struck by was the car’s relationship between feeling fast and being fast.
Let me put that in the context of other cars: low-tech, low-weight and low-power sports cars like the Mazda Miata and Toyota 86 feel fast, but are actually not fast.
High-power, high-tech equipment like the Porsche 911 and BMW M550i are very fast, yet the sensation of speed can be elusive in such cars.
The ATS-V falls somewhere in the middle: it’s a luxury car, but it’s not on the Germans’ level of refinement. It’s a modern performance car, with fun toys like active rev matching and “no lift shift,” but it’s still built around a classic three-pedal rear-drive platform. And the output: 464 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque, is just enough to move the 3,800 pound car thrillingly but not so much that the car’s impossible to manage.
I miss everything about this car. The feeling of driving it, the chiseled front end and that perfect mesh grill, the soft and stubby gearshift. OK, everything but the gauge cluster. That thing sucks, and it sucks tenfold more because it’s the one part of the car you have to spend the most time looking at.
Still, the ATS-V is a hell of a car and I think the two-door stick shift version just might be something we call a classic someday. For now, I’m just glad it exists.