Buy the Cadillac ATS-V While You Still Can

Buy the Cadillac ATS-V While You Still Can

This Cadillac has 464 horsepower. It?s balanced and fun, and it looks pretty slick, too. Oh, did we mention it comes with a manual gearbox? Yeah!

New York Daily News / Kyle Campbell / August 1, 2017 (photos courtesy of General Motors)

With a sleek body design, an interior that’s buttoned down like a three-piece suit and a selection of powertrains that ranging from a peppy four-cylinder to GM’s powerful V6 to go along with a well-tuned suspension and standard rear-wheel drive platform, the Cadillac ATS is a svelte and sporty luxury sedan aimed at competing with the elites in its competitive segment

In 2013, the ATS was welcomed to the world with critical acclaim, winning several car-of-the-year awards and racking up more than 38,000 sales during its first full sales year. It was supposed to be the entry-level offering that got people excited about Cadillac again in an era of post-recession resurgence and, for a short time, it did.

That year, Cadillac posted a six-year high sales total and the ATS was in the thick of things with second-tier luxury compacts such as the Audi A4, Lexus IS and Infiniti Q60. Not quite in the same ballpark as the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but a solid AAA prospect.

With its sharp lines and big, bold grille, the ATS is unquestionably and shamelessly American. As its one and only generation has aged, the ATS has lost its youthful roundness and, instead, grown well-defined character lines that make sure onlookers know this is a car to drive, not be driven in.

If you want this car, then you want the standard six-speed manual transmission, no matter how much rush-hour thigh-pumping that may require. The six-speed Tremec shifter is almost indescribably more party-friendly than the eight-speed automatic. You’ll also save $2,000 versus the automatic. Its paddle-shifted gearing is identical to that in the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

The manual can automatically match revs to avoid upsetting the car during downshifts. And the No-Lift Shift feature lets you mat the gas on upshifts to keep turbos on the boil. Of the Caddy’s many inheritances, that No-Lift feature is the most humble, with Barrick tracing its lineage to the Chevy Cobalt racing program.

The six-speed manual, with hill-holding function, is a gift to enjoy. The gears slot with solid precision and the clutch weight isn’t a workout even in the crawl of commuting. The gear ratios have ideal spacing to run up to 50 mph in first with no rush to second. And the revs can drop to 6 mph in second, and even then the power rolls on smoothly without hesitation.

Cadillac will discontinue its ATS sedan, along with its performance-oriented V Series and its big brother, the CTS, in 2019. Both will be replaced by a new model called the CT5.

This is a shame because it marks the end of a fine, American-made car.