What is it?

This is the Cadillac ATS, a compact luxury sedan that falls into a fiercely competitive class – think Audi A3 sedan, Mercedes CLA-Class and, at a stretch, the BMW 3-Series – meaning that Cadillac was always going to need to make an impression with this car.

Happily, the chiseled features and unique design approach taken by Cadillac mean that the ATS looks like nothing else on the road. Given the ‘follow-the-leader’ design trend in the industry today with so many cars looking alike, we found ourselves refreshed by the aesthetics in this instance. We took a particular shine to the vertical Cadillac tail lights and sweet little spoiler, which give the ATS an aggressive rear-end.

How does it drive?

Once you climb behind the wheel of this little beast it becomes clear where Cadillac’s priorities lay during the design process. The ATS was built to be a driver’s car and it easily lives up to expectations.

The 2.0-litre, turbocharged, direct-injected straight-four and the Hydra-Matic 8-speed auto-box strapped together make for a ferocious combination. The ATS produces 272 bhp and 400 Nm of torque, which will see you doing 0-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds and topping out at around 250 km/h.

Traction is maintained through the process on 17-inch 225/45 rubber wrapped around stylish alloy rims. The steering is well weighted and you can expect heaps of feedback through the wheel; you’ll always know exactly where the limit is with the ATS. Cadillac has also fitted the ATS with Brembo brakes as standard, so you’ll have plenty of whoa when you’re done with the go.

All of that sportiness comes at a price, though – the ride is much harsher than you’d expect from a Cadillac. Going over bumps causes wincing as the stiff suspension crashes across them. Certainly, this isn’t an advert for the relaxed, Cadillac way of moving about.

Interior quality and tech

The interior is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Cadillac. The hand-cut and sewn leather provides a soft-touch quality feel all around the cabin. Comfort is taken care of with fully adjustable electronic seats and you’ll spend your time holding on to a wonderful, leather-wrapped steering wheel. That said, the interior could do with a little more space – if you’re even slightly tall, you won’t be very comfortable in the back seat.

The updated infotainment system is reasonably smooth and user-friendly, coming standard with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and 4G LTE Wi-Fi Connectivity. Smart key access is standard on all four doors and the ATS comes equipped with all of the safety features you’d expect, earning five stars on the American NHTSA safety rating system. All of that said, as is the case with Cadillac’s other cars, the infotainment and tech isn’t quite as polished as it would be in a German equivalent. Sure, everything’s there, but it feels a little more hastily put together. This is nitpicking, we know, but given it starts at AED 146,000, the ATS does cost quite a bit.

Running costs

Fuel consumption is fairly standard for the class with Cadillac claiming mileage of 12.8 km per litre, resulting in a range of around 700 km from the 60-litre tank. In terms of coverage, you’re looking at between AED 3,500 and AED 4,000 for fully comprehensive insurance.

Our verdict

The Cadillac ATS nails its brief if you consider who it’s targeted at – people for whom practicality and comfort may be less important than driving pleasure and style on the road. It exudes personality before you even start the car, demanding your attention and claiming its place on the road. And as a driver’s car, it’s really pretty special.