And it will probably get even cheaper.
The recently-revealed CT5-V and CT4-V disappointed a lot of Cadillac fans. Compared with the outgoing ATS-V and CTS-V, which produced 464 and 640 horsepower respectively, the 335-hp V6 in the CT5-V and the 320 hp four-cylinder in the CT4-V seem completely underwhelming.
Cadillac says there will be more powerful Blackwing versions of both cars but at least for now, the V performance brand has taken a major dive. But rather than get upset about the V brand transitioning to a mid-tier performance option, we choose to look on the bright side. Used ATS-V values have been falling steadily and you can now get one for a reasonable price.
For many years, the BMW M3 was used as a measuring stick for all luxury performance sedans. When Cadillac first entered the segment with the first-generation CTS-V, it grabbed BMW's attention with stellar V8 performance, but still wasn't able to live up to the wonderful balance and quality of the M3. Then, everything changed in 2016 when Cadillac revealed its new M3-beater, the ATS-V.
The ATS-V was a complete game-changer thanks to its wonderful General Motors Alpha Platform, which was shared with the Chevrolet Camaro. The Alpha Platform was so well balanced, the ATS-V ended up being more fun to drive than the M3 and faster on the race track. It was also priced well below the M3, making the ATS-V a true world-beater.
Cadillac sold the ATS-V as a sedan and a coupe, both of which were less expensive than their European rivals. In 2018, you could purchase a new ATS-V sedan starting at $61,595 or a coupe starting at $63,795, though GM was known to offer heavy incentives to bring the price down even further. We can now find used prices starting in the low to mid-$30,000 range, meaning you can now buy a used ATS-V for around the same price as a brand-new, non-V CT5.
These aren't even particularly high-mileage cars. In fact, we found several certified pre-owned ATS-V examples for under $40,000. Cadillac's CPO program includes a six-year/100,000-mile warranty from the original in-service date, meaning the early cars will still have another two to three years left of coverage.
The ATS-V was unique because it shied away from the traditional V formula of stuffing a large V8 into a car that typically used a V6. Instead, Cadillac decided to create a new 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 producing 464 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque. Power was sent to the rear by either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. In this case, we heavily recommend opting for the manual, even though it is slower to 60 mph (4.2 seconds compared to 3.8).
But it isn't just raw performance figures that make the ATS-V great. The steering is among the best we've ever tested and the Alpha chassis provides one of the most comfortable rides you'll experience in a performance sedan or coupe. Next to its competitors from AMG and M, the ATS-V rides like a cloud. There is only one downside to the ATS-V's performance: the LF4 engine doesn't sound nearly as nice as any of its European competitors.
The other major downside of the ATS-V is the cabin where Cadillac failed to match the level of luxury found in European competitors. Some of the materials Cadillac used were extremely questionable, including the vast amounts of gloss black plastic on the center console - a magnet for fingerprints. The ATS-V also came around the same time as Cadillac's CUE infotainment system, which has been unanimously mocked as one of the worst modern systems available due to slow touch response, a terrible glare whenever the sun hit the screen, and a lack of physical controls.
Cadillac also failed to differentiate the V model from the base ATS. Aside from some carbon fiber trim and lovely Recaro seats (which were optional), the cabin looks nearly identical to a base ATS. This also included one of the worst gauge clusters we have ever seen on a performance car, which would have felt more at home in a Chevy Malibu. So if you are picky about your car's interior, the ATS-V might not be for you.
We don't see any significant price difference between the ATS-V Coupe and Sedan on the used market, so in our opinion, we'd recommend opting for the slightly more practical four-door. No matter which configuration you chose, rear legroom is tight with just 33.5 inches, but the sedan offers easy ingress and egress courtesy of its rear doors. Likewise, the trunk space is the same on both models with 10.4 cubic feet of storage. Fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, which is not terrible for such a powerful performance car.
The Cadillac ATS-V was not a perfect car - far from it, in fact. The engine never felt special, the interior was lackluster at best, and it ultimately failed to be the car to make us forget about the M3. But even taking all of this into consideration, the ATS-V still stands as one of the most fun performance cars of its era, with near-perfect balance and unparalleled comfort. If not for a few GM shortcomings, the ATS-V could have been a perfect car and with used prices continuing to fall, it is an excellent Smart Buy.