As enjoyable as that power wave is, it would be more so if the eight-way adjustable driver’s seat were more sensibly installed. The pan cushions offer just a modicum of upward movement at their edge, creating the sensation of an incontrovertible slide toward the steering wheel. It is a difficult feeling to shake.
Ergonomic gripes extend to the console. New for 2013, the CUE infotainment and control system, exclusive to Cadillac, is pitched by GM as the next generation in touch technology, with sensors that send a pulse to the finger when the system receives a command. The multimedia screen displays sensible, intuitive menus and submenus. A fingertip’s input rarely goes unacknowledged, and processor speed is every bit the complement to the ATS 3.6’s zippy V6 engine. When CUE fails, though, it does so spectacularly.
On a rain-slicked Washington DC Beltway surrounded by swift nighttime traffic, a tap of the rear-defroster icon prompted the entire console faceplate to swing up and outward, revealing a neat cubby space for iPods, CD cases and Binaca spray. Proximity sensors on the unit’s leading edge had sensed an errant finger, triggering the faceplate calisthenics. In the aforementioned Beltway cat-and-mouse traffic, with a fogged rear window and windshield wipers working to beat the band, this was a most unpleasant discovery. Cadillac should have positioned critical buttons away from the sensors, full stop.
The windshield defogger also kicks in with an arctic blast that sends passengers scrambling to crank up the digital dual-zone climate controls. As soon as the air compressor takes a break, the sequence must be played in reverse to cool the cabin. Why a $14,000 Chevrolet Sonic, let alone a BMW 335i, manages its compressor better than a $45,000 Cadillac should trouble GM.
Minor though these gripes may seem, they constitute the stuff of a car’s livability. A world-class chassis, wondrous steering and a handsome suit put the ATS on the goal line. From there, special teams must move the ball.
Perhaps a mid-cycle refresh in a couple of years will bring forward the segment champion the ATS is so clearly capable of being. Until then, it may merit a very close look, if not a purchase.