What is it?
Cadillac’s challenging the best of Germany might sound laughable when you recall the wheeled shortfall that was the Saab 9-3-based BLS. This sorry reskin was the brand’s last serious effort to build a car to tempt Europeans, its key class-beating feature a depreciation curve resembling a Himalayan scree-slope. But you can’t accuse Cadillac of giving up.
True, you can now only buy left-hookers from long-time official importer Bauer Millet, but the company still harbours a late-decade plan to return with right-hand drive models.
In the meantime, there’s this 4-series-rivalling ATS coupé. While America’s most prestigious car brand is a near silent player in Britain, in the US it has doggedly continued with its rehabilitation as a premium sporting brand.
The ultra-rare, ultra-fast and hugely entertaining CTS-V proves that this mission is not so fanciful, and the ATS saloon has surprised plenty with its capabilities too.
The ATS coupé gets off to a decent start with its subtly chiseled, subtly wedged style, its dynamic ambitions underlined by a promisingly athletic wheel-to-arch stance.
Your hopes rise higher when you step inside, a tasteful mix of double-stitched leather, Alcantara, open-pored wood (call it textured) contrasting with piano black inserts and satin chrome highlights. It looks classy, and a little different too.
Mechanically, this Cadillac could almost be European, which is less surprising when programme engineer Waqar Hashim tells you of its 4-series and Audi A5 targets.
Up front there’s a downsized 2.0-litre turbo yielding 272bhp and a 295lb ft , and though you can only have it with a six-speed automatic, its ratios can be shuffled via elegant magnesium paddles.
Better yet, the four pot drives the rear wheels located by a five-arm multilink axle, the front end suspended by geometrically superior double-jointed struts. And on the two-wheel drive ATS you get magneto-rheological (MR) dampers.