Test-Drive: 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Courtesy of Cadillac

One day, three states, three versions of the same car. Here’s what it’s like behind the wheel of the American maker’s brand-new automobile.

It’s not often you get to do a one-day, three-state tour while driving three different versions of the same car. But that’s exactly what we did to get a feel for the new 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe as we made our way through New York and Massachusetts from our home base at the quirky Winvian resort in Morris, Connecticut (155 Alain White Rd.; 860-567-9600; winvian.com). The hotel’s keen sense of variety—it’s well known for its 19 uniquely themed cottages (one even features a full-size U.S. Coast Guard helicopter as part of the decor)—certainly put us in the right frame of mind as we took to the road.

The 2015 ATS Coupe comes in several types. The turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0T comes with a six-speed automatic or manual transmission and the choice between all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. There’s also the 3.6L, with a six-speed automatic transmission, six-cylinder engine and either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive options.

The automatic all-wheel drive 2.0T we drove came in morello red—inside and out—with jet-black accents on the interior that complemented the car’s sporty handling nicely ($46,935, as driven). The turbocharger on the 272-horsepower engine provides the passing power required on the two-lane roads that characterize the area, but offers a gentle acceleration so you’re not slammed back into the seat. Plus, the higher torque on the 2.0T makes the car more responsive at low speeds.

The 3.6L variants we tested were less flashy in their gray and white color schemes than their turbocharged sister, but beneath their conservative costumes is a 321-horsepower engine with plenty of zip, going from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds.

While rear-wheel-drive vehicles have their fans, anyone driving in this part of the world will prefer the all-wheel-drive option once winter arrives. (The price differential is relatively small in the cars we drove.) Plus, the latter build seemed to grip the road just a little bit better when we took curves at a fast clip.

In general, the ATS Coupe is a little wider, lower and longer in appearance than the ATS sedan. And although the car mostly eschews exotic chassis materials like aluminum and carbon fiber in favor of a mix of advanced and standard steel, it still manages to curb its weight to beat its class of competitors.

Still, the ATS Coupe is no lightweight when it comes to delivering an enjoyable ride—no matter which version you choose. Starts at $38,990; cadillac.com.