Cadillac has BMW in its sights with the new ATS-V

  • AFP
  • Updated: Nov 20, 2014 11:25 IST

The ATS-V is the first 'hot' high-performance Cadillac ever to get a turbocharged engine and as if to make up for lost time the company has decided to go with two turbos, rather than just one.

Spinning together, they force enough air into the 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine to deliver 455bhp, a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds and a reputed top speed of 185mph.

Those figures mean that the ATV-S, unveiled at the LA Auto Show, is set for a collision course with the BMW M4 and its four-door stable mate, the M3.

If the challenge was purely on paper, then the Cadillac -- which will be offered as a coupé or sedan -- would win comfortably. The M4's 3-liter straight-six engine also boasts a brace of turbochargers and can muster a 0-60mph time of 3.9 seconds, but only 434bhp and a top speed limited to 155mph.

However, it's not simply a question of horsepower and straight-line speed as any keen driver will attest. It's how a car behaves in the bends, how it grips in the corners, how it steers and how it offers feedback about the conditions.

And, historically that is where not just Cadillac, but pretty much every US car company has fallen down when attempting to challenge the crème of Europe.

But times are changing and US car companies are catching up. The ATV-S has a wider front and rear track for better grip and more communicative steering, a re-worked suspension set-up, massive Brembo brakes and the chassis has been significantly stiffened to stop the car rolling in the bends.

More importantly, Cadillac has decided to go for the same types of magneto-rheological dampers that are now a standard feature on high-end European sports cars and supercars and that can adjust to the road condition instantaneously to make the ride smoother, more enjoyable and more predictable.

And the finishing touch, to ensure no one is in any doubt of the car's track performance capabilities, is an on-board data recorder that -- like in the latest Corvette -- can shoot HD video footage overlaid with speed, g-force and other track data.

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