First Look: The Cadillac ATS-V Unveiling in Los Angeles

First Look: The Cadillac ATS-V Unveiling in Los Angeles
A new, aggressive face for American luxury performance.

Some cars are pretty to look at. And some cars scream to be driven. I was excited to be offered the opportunity to get a VIP first-look at Cadillac’s brand new ATS-V lineup at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.

The president of Cadillac himself, Johan de Nysschen, introduced and unveiled the completely new V-series lineup, describing it as “sex on wheels.” If you’re unfamiliar with the V-series offering, it’s the brand’s high-performance addition to their luxury vehicle portfolio, in the same vein as Audi’s RS, BMW’s M series, and Mercedes Benz’s AMG models. If you notice, that list has one giant thing in common: German engineering, a notion not lost on Mr. de Nysschen. The 112-year-old brand’s refocused mission, he proclaims, is to be the bar set for European luxury brands to meet.

The ATS-V is the high-performance version of the ATS Coupe, combining the highly-gawked sex appeal of the original with some serious right-from-the-factory track power. The ATS-V features a (first-ever for the V-series) twin-turbocharged 3.6 V6 that produces 455 hp and 445 lb-ft, and can get you from standstill to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Not too shabby, putting it modestly, for a luxury brand that had fallen into a “Grandpa’s car” reputation at one point in its history. With a top speed of 189 mph, a Grandpa’s car this isn’t.

The ATS-V is built on GM’s rear-drive Alpha platform, a stretched version of the one the CTS is grounded on. Expected to arrive at dealers by summer 2015, this luxury-class street vehicle is also a no-excuses track performer. “In fact, the car is ready for the track right off the showroom floor, with no special modifications required,” explains chief engineer Tony Roma.

Cadillac ATS-V with engineer quote

But there is something that grabs your attention even more than its specs: its styling. Offered as a coupe or a sedan, the ATS-V aggressively sports a ducktail spoiler, a front splitter, a ventilated carbon fiber hood, and quad exhaust outlets. The lightweight hood features an air-extracting vent that not only pulls hot air out of the engine compartment, but also helps reduce lift at high speeds by pushing air pulled through the radiator out over the top of the car, instead of allowing it to leak under the car.

Some have been surprised by the single-offer 18-inch wheel diameter, but Cadillac asserts this was intentional: It allowed GM’s engineers to concentrate on a single wheel-tire combination so they could ensure ride quality, handling, and wheel control. All for the explicit purpose of creating a luxurious daily driver that's also a high- performance track car.

Cadillac had no performance anxiety about playing on the competition’s home turf. The ATS-V was put to the test on the famous Nurburgring track in Germany. The new V comes in two rear-wheel transmission configurations: a six-speed manual with rev matching or the eight-speed automatic that’s also in the 2015 Corvette Stingray.

The interior features optional Recaro seats and a carbon-fiber trim. The now famous Corvette camera and GPS-based performance data recorder are available as options.

Pricing hasn’t been made available yet, but several sources predict a $60k starting point.

Andrew Snavely

Andrew founded Primer in 2008 and brings 15+ years of men's style expertise. Known for his practical, relatable approach to style and self-development, he has been a recognized speaker at conferences and has styled work for top brands. Off-duty, he loves photography & editing, and enjoys road trips with his dog, Leela. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, educated in DC, and living in LA for nearly 20 years, Andrew's diverse experiences shape the relatable and real-world advice that has helped millions through Primer. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.