Can the Cadillac ATS-V compete with BMW M3?

BMW M3, BMW M4 | January 3rd, 2015 by 39
bmw m3 cadillac ats v 750x500

I recently wrote about the new Cadillac CTS-V being a serious contender to the BMW M5. The CTS-V seems hell-bent on taking the M5’s crown, …

I recently wrote about the new Cadillac CTS-V being a serious contender to the BMW M5. The CTS-V seems hell-bent on taking the M5’s crown, however it has the benefit of being a few years newer and Cadillac was able to use the current M5 as a benchmark. Also this will be the third generation of the CTS-V, so Cadillac already has a good formula going into it. Well, Cadillac now has another V series car gunning for the Bavarians.

While the CTS-V had a few years to benchmark its M5 competition, the new ATS-V has not had the same benefits.

2016 cadillac ats v front three quarters lead 750x498

As an all-new vehicle to Cadillac, the ATS has performed quite well. While not as good of an all-around vehicle as the current 3 Series, in my opinion, it’s still quite a good car. And naturally, there has to be a version to compete with the latest M3/M4.

2015 bmw m3 m4 images 23 750x499

This newest F80/F82 M3/M4 is not much older than the ATS-V will be when it debuts, so Cadillac wouldn’t have had the same amount of time to benchmark it. The new M3 is also, from what I hear, fantastic, so the new ATS-V will have its hands full.

With a 3.6 liter, twin-turbo V6 making 450 horsepower, the ATS-V packs a similar punch to the M3’s twin-turbo, 425 horsepower inline-six. The 3.6 liter engine is the same one used in the CTS Vsport, but has been upgraded a bit with titanium connecting rods, new turbo wastegates and higher-flow fuel injectors. Mated to either an 8-speed auto (GM’s own) or a 6-speed manual, the ATS-V should be plenty quick. It will also ride on GM’s latest version of their magnetic shocks, with new bushings and ball joints, and stop itself with Brembo brakes. The brakes will be steel discs, 14.6 up front and 13.3 out back, and the calipers will be six-piston and four-piston, respectively.

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe

While many other automakers came close to beating the M5, the M3 has been largely untested by its competition. Every attempt at an M3 rival has always been met with an overall attitude of “Well it’s good, but it’s still not an M3”. It’s always been the benchmark for the segment and has sat atop its throne comfortably since its inception in 1986.

BMW has had over two decades to perfect its formula for the M3, will the upstart ATS-V be able to take its throne? Cadillac has been on a bit of a roll lately, but I’m not so sure it’s good enough to beat the mighty M3. What do you think?

39 responses to “Can the Cadillac ATS-V compete with BMW M3?”

  1. bvhbmw says:

    Who cares? Have you ever met someone who was really torn between owning a BMW or a Cadillac? I mean really ready to write a check?

    • shadowx360 says:

      Yep. Same with the Lexus RC-F. Why risk getting a Lexus or Cadillac’s attempt at making an M3 equivalent when you can just go with the tried and true M3? I love how all the magazines are now bashing the new 3 series, including C&D removing the F30 from it’s 10Best after more than two decades, but in the end, it’s still the benchmark of the entire segment.

      • Ninong says:

        They substituted the M235i for the 3-series this year. I guess they thought having both of them in there would have been overkill.

      • Travis says:

        “equivalent”

        The RCF is a TOTAL different animal then the M4 give everyone a break you BMW fan boy. The RCF sounds the business looks unique and will out last any BMW. Rip up the track and drive you home in Lexus Luxury. Win for Lexus in my book and its a V8.

        Years ago people were building M3 fighters now each has come into their OWN. Get out the past.

        • jason bourne says:

          The RCF, like any other Lexus, is a poser.

          • Jake says:

            in every comparison, the rc-f lost against the m4. Lexus has tried and tried again, and there new f-sport line are just toyotas that look good. n/a v8 is old technology if you haven’t heard, used in our PREVIOUS generation m3. The RC-F is slower (by a good amount) and doesn’t have the track tuning the M4 has either. Oh and in terms of luxury, the M4 isn’t meant to be a car you relax in. it is a drivers car, plain and simple. rated by drivers for drivers. something lexus will never be.

            It’s funny hearing how companies test it against the m3 (like cadillac) but the previous generation. The f80 m3 kicks the crap out of the previous gen. so not sure what GM or lexus are trying to accomplish with that..

            Case closed.

          • QBall1337 says:

            Yea, I don’t know where you got your info from, but you are wrong. The new M4 is a little bit over 3 tenths of a sec faster than RCF on track which is barely compare to what you said “slower (by a good amount)”

            http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/coupes/1502_2015_bmw_m4_vs_2015_lexus_rc_f_comparison/photo_37.html

            n/a v8 is old technology? I can see the v8 that the German and Japan car manufactures uses are old, but their v8s can’t be par with the american V8 engine like the Corvette Stingray and it has great highway MPG.

        • jason bourne says:

          The RCF, like any other Lexus, is a poser.

      • Travis says:

        “equivalent”

        The RCF is a TOTAL different animal then the M4 give everyone a break you BMW fan boy. The RCF sounds the business looks unique and will out last any BMW. Rip up the track and drive you home in Lexus Luxury. Win for Lexus in my book and its a V8.

        Years ago people were building M3 fighters now each has come into their OWN. Get out the past.

    • shadowx360 says:

      Yep. Same with the Lexus RC-F. Why risk getting a Lexus or Cadillac’s attempt at making an M3 equivalent when you can just go with the tried and true M3? I love how all the magazines are now bashing the new 3 series, including C&D removing the F30 from it’s 10Best after more than two decades, but in the end, it’s still the benchmark of the entire segment.

    • Craig says:

      Yes. ME. Before buying anything I seriously consider everything. With check in hand. And I don’t give a damn what badge it has on the hood either. That said… most of the BMW owners that I have met care less about the CAR and more about what they’re neighbors and/or brother-in-law would think of them if they bought something else. They’re not ‘car people’. They’re ‘badge people’.

  2. bvhbmw says:

    Who cares? Have you ever met someone who was really torn between owning a BMW or a Cadillac? I mean really ready to write a check?

  3. Chris W says:

    @bvhbmw exactly, two cars not even in the same universe.

  4. Chris W says:

    @bvhbmw exactly, two cars not even in the same universe.

  5. CDspeed says:

    The Caddy does look good but compared to the M3, come on, why would you pick the imitator? The only reason anyone would pick the Caddy is because they couldn’t afford the M3.

  6. JPT says:

    Wow! You guys sound like true believers :-). While the BMW is a great car, I haven’t heard anyone state any objective reasons why the BMW is better. I’ll wait for the road tests but I think the Caddy has all the ingredients to give the M3/4 a fight. I think that the biggest deficit in the basic ATS line was the lack of an 8 speed tranny. Now that the 8L90 is on the scene, the Caddy’s game will be stepped up a notch.

    • CDspeed says:

      The M3 has been around for a long time so naturally it has more fans, I myself have owned two M3s, an E46 coupe, and an E92 convertible.

    • Billy The Hillbilly says:

      If only someone gave me a dime every time I heard “yea, look, we’ve got a new car to take on the M3/M5, we think we will give them a run for their money”, I would be richer, than… a nowadays myself, whatever :). Leaving the engine and a tranny aside, you still have the whole car left to fiddle with – the front and a rear axle, suspension, weight distribution, the steering, the brakes etc.. and you have to have a good chassis to start with at the first place. And last, but not least, the setup of all of it to perform together. It is not about us being true believers, but it is about the competitors not having it all together the way any M3 has, there’s always some bits missing. That is called the experience, not a belief .

      :-)

      • Horatiu B. says:

        Who knows…I mean, it could really have great performance.

        • Billy The Hillbilly says:

          It could indeed, we know nothing for sure at this point… but I kinda doubt it, no one ever… etc :-)

          • JPT says:

            The ATS has an excellent chassis, excellent suspension, excellent ZF steering(believe it’s the same as the Bimmer). I agree that they all have to come together in a phenomenal way to climb the M3/4 mountain and there is no doubt that it’s a bitch off a mountain that many have died on…..but, let’s wait and see. I think it’ll be a great match up. Seems like GM finally woke up and turned their engineers loose. They developed in fairly rapid succession the Z28, Z06, CTS V, 2016 Camaro, and the ATS V. All very competent track machines if the car magazines can be trusted. I love the M3/4 but Bimmer’s in for a fight. :-)

          • Billy The Hillbilly says:

            Yes, the new ZF tranny is supposed to be really god, but it also matters how the manufacturer manages to pair with the engine. Bimmer’s got either a manual one, or the DCT dual clutch, no ZF in the M3/M4. Anyways, they seem to get all the good parts in the car, so it might be damn good even if not as good as the M4. Agreed that GM engineers seem to be waking up last days :)

          • Kevin says:

            The Cadillac does not have a ZF transmission. The 8L90 is GM designed and is far superior to the ZF in terms of weight, shift times, etc.

          • Billy The Hillbilly says:

            “The 8L90 is GM designed and is far superior to the ZF in terms of weight, shift times, etc.”

            Wow, that’s what I call a claim. Could you direct me to some sort of a source for this? I’ve been looking this up when replying the previous time, but I couldn’t find anything that specific. As well as I got bored in just a few minutes :-)

        • Ninong says:

          But it would still be a Cadillac. No, thanks!

    • Jake says:

      Let me ask you this. Do you ever buy the first model year something brand new comes out? or do you wait a year or two, or a few to make sure that everything is smoothed out?. Generally (unless you want the latest and greatest or your lease happens to be out then) people wait, cuz they want everything fixed.

      BMW has 30+ years of motorsport experience. lexus? cadillac? lol…im gonna trust the guys who know what their doing vs. the ones who just keep imitating and benchmarking their cars vs. the previous editions of BMWs

  7. Robrrto21 says:

    Can anyone say MAGNETIC RIDE CONTROL?

  8. Levi says:

    M3 (iPhone) > ATS-V (Samsung)

  9. KenKorte says:

    I was trying to deciding between a BMW 335i or a Mercedes C300. On a whim, I test drove the ATS and instantly knew it was the car I was buying. If you think the new Cadillac can’t compete with BMW, you haven’t driven their new ATS or CTS.

  10. KenKorte says:

    I was trying to deciding between a BMW 335i or a Mercedes C300. On a whim, I test drove the ATS and instantly knew it was the car I was buying. If you think the new Cadillac can’t compete with BMW, you haven’t driven their new ATS or CTS.

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