Test Drive: Cadillac 2016 ATS-V Coupe

©2015 Richard Prince/Cadillac

This high-performance car from Cadillac is as much fun to drive as it is easy on the eyes. 

The land just west of Austin, Texas, isn’t called Hill Country for nothing. I’m driving the new 2016 ATS-V Cadillac coupe down a road that dips, dips, and dips again so quickly I get a fluttery feeling in my stomach that I last had on a roller coaster.

Maybe I could go a little slower to smooth out the ride, but driving this car is as much fun as a roller coaster, too. The ATS-V is Cadillac’s first twin turbo-charged six-cylinder engine and there is 464 horsepower under the hood. This means the ATS-V is wicked fast, zooming from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds with a top speed of 189 miles-per-hour. That takes a little getting used to—at one traffic light I inadvertently took off so quickly that one of the rear special Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires momentarily spun. The ZF electronic steering is rock steady though, so I never felt out of control. Plus the high-performance, race track-ready Brembo brakes are a powerful piece of insurance.

The ATS-V is easy on the eyes, but not everything you see is there just for looks. Every design element has a purpose. The hood is made from carbon fiber, which helps reduce weight; a vent in the hood channels air pulled through the radiator out and over the car rather than forcing it to exit out from under the vehicle, helping to prevent any tendency the car might have to lift up as it gathers speed; and a front splitter forces air to push down on the car rather than flow under it where it can cause lift—all making the car easier to handle when it’s going fast.

The cabin interior offers that same attention to performance-related detail. The comfortable Recaro seats can be adjusted 16 ways so you can securely bolster in for high speed cornering or just ease back for a more luxurious ride—something I admittedly had to do after stopping at The Salt Lick (18300 Farm to Market Rd.; 512-858-4959​; saltlickbbq.com) in Driftwood for their famous barbecue. High-quality hand stitching holds the leather and suede interior together, and bluetooth and wifi top out the electronic amenities.

Cadillac has been chasing its European counterparts for a long time. With the speed and performance of the ATS-V, those European competitors are now within sight. $76,780 as driven; cadillac.com.