: New ATS arrived -- First impressions (long)



Tallis77
03-31-13, 05:16 PM
I ordered a new Cadillac ATS in late January and it arrived at my dealer this week. I picked it up last Wednesday. These are my first impressions (just my opinion mind you). This is a little long but I hope you enjoy reading the whole story. Here is what I ordered:


Model: 2013 ATS
Trim: Premium
Drive train: 2.0L Turbo RWD with 6 speed manual
Color: Opulent Blue Metallic
Interior: Light Platinum with Jet Black Accents
Options: Power sunroof


I had to order a car because there were no manual transmission cars available on the lot. It was a little difficult waiting for an order but it came in almost exactly when the dealer told me it would: about eight weeks.

Now for the depressing news: when I arrived to pick it up, there was no sunroof. Everything else was as expected. It turns out that a mistake was made translating the order into the production system. I wanted the sunroof because I think it helps lighten up the cabin and I do like to open it up from time to time. After thinking about it for a while and deciding that I didn't want to wait for another order, I said that I would buy the car if I got an attractive deal considering this was a mistake on their part. We did arrive at a reasonable number (including a pretty good trade-in valuation) and I pulled the trigger. Now I tell myself that no sunroof reduces weight and increases head room a bit :) Looking back, I probably should have double checked with the dealer on the production order but I didn't even think about it.

Otherwise, my first impressions driving the car off the lot where of information overload! I need to adjust the seats, set up the dash display panels, configure the HUD display, deal with station presets, get used to the driving dynamics, etc. I simply drove home and curled up with the owners manual. A new iPad was included since I had CUE, so I spent time going through those tutorials as well. This car has a lot of features!

After getting over that overwhelming feeling and setting up things the way I wanted, I got down to driving and assessing my new purchase. This is a brand new car and I have had it only a few days but the short summary is that this car drives wonderfully and most of my gripes are minor.

Driving Dynamics

I was a little concerned that perhaps the 2.0T was going to feel a little underpowered. It is still in break in so I can't really make a final judgement but so far I am pleasantly surprised. It gets off the line better than I would have expected a 4-cylinder to do. Once it is out of break in, I will have a better idea of overall power. I am trying to keep it under 4k rpm for the first 1000 miles or so.

My first couple of days were just plain commuting and I couldn't really feel suspension dynamics. When going straight on docile drives, it feels like a luxury car -- smooth and uneventful.

But on Saturday I had the opportunity to drive the car to Santa Cruz on very twisty roads. OH! This is why I bought this car. The balance, the turn in, the brakes are all outstanding! It rotates around curves in a very seductive fashion: flat with no drama. When I initially test drove the car, I was a little concerned about the light weight feel of the electronically controlled steering. I am not concerned anymore --
this car loves to turn! Nor does it feel heavy or ponderous -- it carries itself with grace both in and out of curves. The summer tires feel wonderful and inspire confidence. After this drive, I was thinking just one word: terrific!

Now I am looking forward to getting out of break in period so that I can push the car a bit more. Maybe after a few months, I might even consider a tune to bump it up a notch.

Transmission

A lot has been written about the manual transmission in the ATS. The early reviews weren't very kind. I was trusting that Cadillac had worked out the kinks by the time I ordered my car. I was really taking a chance: there were absolutely no manual transmission cars anywhere near me to test drive. But I have always driven manuals and I wasn't going to stop now.

My assessment: the transmission is workable but not great. Clutch feel is light but take up is good. It is rather reluctant to go into reverse. The one-two shift is also little balky. It gets better in higher gears. The overall gearing also seems just a little short for my taste. But the throw distance is about right and the gear shift lever itself is in the right place. The transmission is brand new so perhaps it will loosen up and improve a bit with time. Nonetheless, I wouldn't have this car any other way. I don't think it is nearly as disappointing as the professional reviewers make it out to be and the control it affords is worth it in my opinion.

Visibility

No bones about it: the visibility in the ATS is not that great. The back window is relatively small and the C-pillar is relatively wide. That makes for a pretty good sized blind spot. I did not order the (quite expensive) driver assist package that has blind spot monitoring. I am now using the "Car Talk" way of adjusting my side mirrors and that helps.

Front visibility is good. The low hood helps here. But the A-pillar is pretty substantial and that reduces front side visibility a bit. The hips on the car are also pretty tall. This is not a wide open cabin.

The ATS also suffers from a very common issue in today's sedans: the head rests on the passenger seats tend to block your view out to the right of the car. But this is the nature of the beast and I think I just need to live with it.

Comfort

The ATS drivers seat in the premium edition is a pleasure. I find it very comfortable and has a wide variety of adjustments. I am particularly fond of the bolster adjustment. The passenger seat is very good too but it seems to lack the bolster adjustment (it has all of the other ones).

Contrary to some reviews, I find the back seats to be fine. I am not overly tall (about 5'8) and I think there is sufficient leg room for two back there without major issues. I doubt I will try to fit three back there though.

Ingress and egress out of the front seats is quite good. It is a little more tricky getting into the back seats due to the sloping roof but I don't consider that a major issue. Once in the back seats, they are actually pretty comfortable.

The cabin is quiet and it is easy to have discussions with passengers. There are no squeaks or rattles and the ride feels solid. I think this could be a nice long distance car.

CUE and the Electronic Systems

Professional reviewers all seem to hate CUE. My advice: make up your own mind. I am a high tech guy (UI design) by profession and I find CUE to be pretty reasonable. Are there things I might change if I designed it: yes. But many of those are nits.

The screen itself is beautiful and the graphic design is first rate. I have the updated CUE and responsiveness is good although not liquid. A bit more processing power or tightening up the software would help.

The logical layout is pretty good and there aren't too many levels of nesting. Most options can be controlled without much training. The haptic feedback is a cute idea although I don't find it improves the interface that much. The touch screen is fine but it can be a bit challenging to use in motion. I tend to set things up first and then go (I think that's a good idea with most car systems anyway).

I very much like the dashboard information screens. They are easy to control and there is a lot of information to choose from. Those displays also look good and are clearly readable in all conditions.

My car also comes with the heads up display. When I first test drove the car in January, I didn't think I would really need or want this system. But it comes with the premium package and there were other things in that package I did want (notably the improved headlights). Overall, I like it more than I thought that I would. After adjusting it correctly, it is kind of nice to have that display in your field of view. It works great at night. In the daytime, it is a little less visible and I wear polarized sunglasses and that makes it even less visible. Nonetheless, I like it.

The climate control system is good and works as expected. I mostly set it in auto mode and forget about it. I don't seem to have any of the clicking noises that some other owners have complained about.

The connectivity set up also seems good so far. The system paired with my iPhone 4S thru bluetooth without any problems. I set up the On-Star system since an initial subscription is included but I don't know yet whether I will continue once the subscription is up. But they certainly have enthusiastic call staff when you connect to their service center. I am a little wary of privacy concerns when using this system: it knows so much about what's happening with the car. But I think we all are already sliding down that slippery slope with modern cars.

Navigation

I find the navigation system to be quite good. I have always used outboard navigation systems in the past. I still think Garmin produces a better interface. But the system in the ATS is no slouch. It is particularly good at giving prompts well in advance of the next turn. That is very nice. The map display is good too and the HUD and dashboard displays support the navigation system well.

So far, my results using the voice control input system for navigation have been hit and miss. It is pretty slow to respond and sometimes makes errors. This is especially true if you have passengers in the car talking while you are trying to give it commands. But it seems better than other voice input systems I have tried of late.

Sound System

Some may recall that I posted to this forum when I was considering this car and one of my key worries was the quality of the sound system. You can see that thread here:

Link to Forum Discussion (http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-ats-general-discussion-forum/279524-considering-ats-steering-feel-sound-system.html)

I am happy to report that I am satisfied with the sound system. The key is to use the right surround mode. The system comes with four settings: Normal, Driver, Rear, and Center. What I have found is that the normal setting is a bit shrill because it emphasizes the sound from the small speakers in the A-pillar. Using the Center mode smoothes out the sound and I find it quite reasonable for music. I still use Normal and Driver for talk and sports. I have also adjusted the tone controls a bit to increase bass and midrange and tame the treble a small amount.

The sound system is also better with direct inputs rather than radio or satellite. It opens up very nicely from a CD or an uncompressed stream from a phone. The sound system overall still isn't quite as good as others that I have heard but I am not disappointed with it.

Design

The ATS is a beautiful car from most angles. I am particularly fond of the front and side views. The rear treatment doesn't do a lot for me but it is not offensive either. There is also a mild quirkiness with the rear window design that seems just a bit off. But it is oodles above the designs I have seen from GM in the past. This is a very good looking car.

The interior is also impressive. Fit and finish are first rate. The materials are warm and inviting. The interior is modern but without being austere or cold. The color combinations work well together. The interior is one of my favorite aspects of the design of this car. After all, I plan to be looking at it from the inside most of the time :)

Maintenance and Reliability

I can't say anything about reliability yet. But the omens are good. GM has been creeping up the quality surveys over the last few years and my hopes are high.

I am not concerned about the drive train too much. The 2.0T is not new technology and I think it will prove to be very reliable. I am a little concerned about the sophisticated electronics in this car. There are a lot of cooperating computers doing their thing. I hope that they don't decide to act up. I purchased this car and I plan to drive it for quite a while.

On maintenance, I will note one minor gripe: the dipstick for checking the oil gets quite hot. It is also very long (the 2.0T is actually a pretty tall engine). It is a little clumsy to check the oil in this car.

Conclusion

My new car is just a few days old but I am a happy camper. I am especially impressed with the driving dynamics of the ATS. It loves to turn and the handling is first rate. It is also a beautiful and comfortable car to boot. I think it is a worthy competitor in the sports sedan arena and that's why I bought it. I plan to write a followup once I am out of break in with a few more impressions.

Pictures

Finally, here are a few pictures of my new ATS.

http://76.198.130.242:8099/ats/ats_front.png

http://76.198.130.242:8099/ats/ats_rear.png

http://76.198.130.242:8099/ats/ats_driver.png

http://76.198.130.242:8099/ats/ats_pass.png

Stevo Supremo
03-31-13, 06:57 PM
Kinda sucks about the sun roof, but none of my cars have ever had a sunroof and this one doesnt either, its just never worth the extra money for me.
But yeah these engines have TONS of potential, once you're able to start giving it the beans you'll fall in love with boost.

The manual is pretty good, the synchro's are just a bit finnicky, but I love just rowing through the gears down a straight! I think finding a used manual ATS in the future wont be an easy thing to do :thumbsup:

but you car looks great and nice to see another happy ATS owner!!

73JPS
03-31-13, 07:02 PM
Thanks for a thoughtful, balanced, and outstanding review! I look forward to comparing my impressions with your notes when I get my car in a few weeks. I will only add how interesting it is that I found the transmission to be quite satisfactory on the car I drove, but I thought that the throws were a little long: proof of preference, and a caveat for anyone reading a review from the "professionals".

P.S. Sorry about the sunroof: that would be quite a disappointment, and I am not sure I could live without one either... hope they got my order right!

gohawks63
03-31-13, 07:51 PM
Love the color!

myronf
03-31-13, 08:19 PM
Very nice write-up.

miguelius
03-31-13, 08:25 PM
I have had my silver Performance model 2.0 T for 500 miles and two months. Like you guys, I could not conceive of having a sports sedan like this without a stick shift, and though I live in Colorado, I am not going to drive this car in the snow anyway (that's what my old Cherokee is for). Yes, the tranny linkage is not buttery smooth especially going into first, but the linkage is very positive and there is never any doubt as to which gear you're in or that you're shifting into. I agree, it's not nearly as bad as some of the overwrought, exaggerated "expert" reviews have claimed. The bottom line is that for those who want to shift for ourselves, the manual experience with the 2.0 turbo is one of life's pleasures.

Similar sentiments about the CUE: it's marvelous! It has worked without a glitch, and the combo of the voice command button on the steering wheel, the toggle command on the wheel with the small display in front of the driver, and the CUE interface gives you an extraordinary command of multiple functions. One very cool feature is that in the 3D navigation view when I am in downtown Denver, it does not just show a generic view of tall buildings, but shows specific buildings in good detail, such as the Pepsi Center Arena, the unique convention center, and other specific buildings. Way cool! Let me know about other cities, such as San Francisco. Bet it shows the Transamerica pyramid!

maxima10
03-31-13, 09:04 PM
If you don't mind sharing with the community (unless I missed it). What's the deal you got?

Tallis77
04-01-13, 10:51 AM
The original deal the dealer and I were discussing was right around the invoice price I got from TruCAR. After the discussion about the missing sunroof, the price of the car came down about 2K and my trade-in value came up about 1K. Note that the sunroof option itself is about 1K. So the net here was about 1K on the price of the car and 1K from a better trade in value. At that level, I consider that I was made whole on the deal.

maxima10
04-01-13, 12:39 PM
The original deal the dealer and I were discussing was right around the invoice price I got from TruCAR. After the discussion about the missing sunroof, the price of the car came down about 2K and my trade-in value came up about 1K. Note that the sunroof option itself is about 1K. So the net here was about 1K on the price of the car and 1K from a better trade in value. At that level, I consider that I was made whole on the deal.

how much per month?

Chuck C
04-01-13, 12:39 PM
Thanks for the review. How do you like the light platinum interior? It almost looks like a nice cream color in certain light.

Chuck

Dave3283
04-01-13, 07:29 PM
Great review. Helps to get through the withdraws..while I wait and wait and...

AJ21
04-01-13, 09:07 PM
good review.....thanks for taking the time to write this. This is the closest i can get to my ATS while i wait.....just like Dave3283.....maybe this week???

Avery323
04-02-13, 11:02 PM
Great, thorough review and wow! Amazing color combo!

Neuroleptic
04-06-13, 09:36 AM
Good review, although I will admit that I didn't read the whole thing and scrolled down to the pics :)
I had the exact opposite thing happen to me regarding the sunroof. I didn't want one, and the car was delivered with one. They didn't charge me for it, and I took it anyway. The sunroof takes away a lot of headroom and I wish I didn't have it on mine. My hair regularly scrapes the ceiling when I'm turning. The extra light into the cabin is nice but not worth the drawbacks overall in my opinion. Still very happy with it, but haven't seen the car in 5 days as my frickin steering wheel started clicking and its been in the shop. I miss it! I'll just have to suffer through driving around a loaner with the 3.6. Sad stuff

Burla
04-06-13, 06:26 PM
What about its manufacturing zone? I see the plant is in China :)

source: http://www.ultimatecarblog.com/cadillac-ats-to-be-built-in-china/

Hoosier Daddy
04-06-13, 06:35 PM
What about its manufacturing zone? I see the plant is in China :)

source: http://www.ultimatecarblog.com/cadillac-ats-to-be-built-in-china/
Interesting that the first picture appears to be an ATS-V.

http://www.ultimatecarblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Cadillac-ATS-3.jpg

Fraggy
04-06-13, 07:55 PM
Lets hope not, that's gaudy.

RxATS
04-06-13, 10:30 PM
Good review, although I will admit that I didn't read the whole thing and scrolled down to the pics :)
I had the exact opposite thing happen to me regarding the sunroof. I didn't want one, and the car was delivered with one. They didn't charge me for it, and I took it anyway. The sunroof takes away a lot of headroom and I wish I didn't have it on mine. My hair regularly scrapes the ceiling when I'm turning. The extra light into the cabin is nice but not worth the drawbacks overall in my opinion. Still very happy with it, but haven't seen the car in 5 days as my frickin steering wheel started clicking and its been in the shop. I miss it! I'll just have to suffer through driving around a loaner with the 3.6. Sad stuff

I'm 6'3" & have plenty of headroom. Maybe you can lower your seat further or last resort, style your hair different? Furthermore, how can a 3.6L loaner cause suffering? At least you didn't get the 2.5L. Just because your car is a stick-shift, really?!? When my CUE was being updated, I had a 2.5L base ATS loaner. I certainly missed my premium but was far from suffering. Perhaps you may require an increase in your neuroleptics ;)