In the fall of 2006, the Cadillac-BLS, the smallest and most affordable under this brand, officially entered the Russian market. Manufacturers positioned the model as a direct competitor to Audi A4 and BMW three rubles, but sales went extremely poorly: instead of a rare chance to buy an inexpensive Cadillac, the market saw this offer as an “excellent” opportunity to overpay for Saab - because there was BLS, essentially turned 9–3. European sales also failed, and in August 2009, BLS production was turned off … to begin work on a new model.
Meet - Cadillac-ATS! The first car of the General Motors concern, built on the rear-wheel drive platform Alpha and having nothing to do with its predecessor. Only chopped forms, which have become the brand's trademark, resemble BLS and clearly have something in common with older models. 276 hp two-liter supercharged engine ATS inherited from Astra OPC, and chassis tuning was done in the Cadillac’s European division - lapping tests were carried out on the Nurburgring’s Northern Loop. The company does not hide the fact that when creating a car they focused mainly on the BMW 3 Series, and are convinced that in terms of handling and driving pleasure, the small Cadillac is not inferior to it in anything. Are you intrigued? I, too!
I open the driver's door and immediately fall into a comfortable, but quite hard chair. Optitron devices flash before the eyes, the right elbow rests on the massive armrest, and the gear selector is in the hand by itself. As for ergonomics, ATS can be approached with purely European standards, and visually the interior is perceived just fine. What can not be said about quality. “Caddy” sins with uneven and rough stitching of the skin of the front panel, careless pairing of some parts and a noticeable burst of plastic on the door pockets.
These seemingly minor flaws coolly spoil the overall impression of the car:
Were the Chevrolet or Opel emblem on the steering wheel, I would not focus on this, but for such a decidedly targeted Cadillac premium segment such negligence is not permissible.
And here's another problem - the CUE (Cadillac User Experience) multimedia system, which occupies the center console completely, with an 8-inch touch screen and no less touch buttons on the console. The creators are proud of it and assure that in terms of ease of use and speed their brainchild is not inferior to the iPad. However, in reality, CUE is similar to an inexpensive e-book: delays accompany even trivial flipping of songs, the interface raises questions. The console buttons do live their life, working through time.
It is worth starting the movement, as the car hurries to rehabilitate, forcing to forget about all the nuances described above. At my disposal is an all-wheel drive modification with a 2-liter engine - the only one available at the moment. In combination with a perfectly tuned 6-speed automatic, such an ATS will gain the first hundred in 6.1 s, and if necessary, it will accelerate briskly even from autobahn speeds. The gear changes are logical, fast and inconspicuous, the feedback on the steering wheel is really comparable to the standard demonstrated by the Bavarian. "Cadillac" very confidently holds a straight line and reliably sticks to the asphalt of winding suburban paths - the driver's sedan as it is!
But there is also a rear-wheel drive version with the optional sports suspension Magnetic Ride. This is where the final realization comes that the comparison with the "three rubles" is by no means a guile. The rear-wheel-drive sedan is a bit lighter and more transparent to drive than the all-wheel drive version, but the sport mode makes the car's behavior exemplary. The chassis is sharpened even more, the steering wheel is filled with a pleasant effort, the automatic machine does not hesitate to drive the tachometer needle into the red zone, reducing the time to set the first hundred to 5.9 s - faster than the result of the “mechanical” Astra OPC with the same motor!
It is especially pleasant that even in this configuration, the engineers managed to achieve a completely acceptable ride, although rough road junctions still give a booming echo. But the motor is almost inaudible. Yes, and aerodynamic noise fill the cabin only after 180 km / h.
Cadillac managed to create a truly European class D sedan - beautiful and fast, capable of giving the driver genuine joy. Possessing a powerful economical engine (the consumption amounted to 11.5 l / 100 km according to the results of the 400-kilometer route) and an excellent chassis, the ATS is able to compete with German opponents on an equal footing for a place under the premium sun - you just need to tighten the build quality of the interior and work on the shortcomings of the vaunted CUE systems.
Nevertheless, the prospects for new items expected in our market in the first quarter of 2013 seem vague to me. The ruble price starts at 1, 790, 000 rubles for the version with MCP. Let's see how many customers would prefer to give this money for the new Cadillac, bypassing BMW, ignoring the Mercedes-Benz or abandoning the Audi.