Taking aim directly at German sport sedans, Cadillac launched the ATS-V at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday.
The 455-horsepower coupe and sedan are chasing BMW’s M3 and M4 sedan/coupe duo, as well as Mercedes-AMG’s forthcoming C63 sedan, and Audi’s RS5 coupe.
“A new era is underway at Cadillac,” said Johan de Nysschen, president of Cadillac. “We have embarked on a challenging journey to establish this great brand amongst the very pinnacle of premium brands.”
The rear-wheel-drive ATS-V models are hopped up versions of the more common ATS. General Motors’ luxury division crams a 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine under the hood, the same engine found in the larger CTS V-Sport sedan.
In the ATS-V, the engine makes 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. In a nod to the dwindling group of stick-shift purists, the cars will be available with a six-speed manual. Most buyers will choose the eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
Cadillac says the models can blast from zero to 60 mph in less than 3.9 seconds, though that figure has not been finalized.
These hot-shot Caddies will have track-ready Brembo brakes at all four corners and the excellent magnetic ride control that GM uses in a variety of performance-oriented cars (regular Cadillac ATS and CTS models, the Chevy Corvette Stingray and Camaro ZL1).
“It makes sense for us to show our technical prowess,” de Nysschen said. “Cadillac’s V-Series is the...purest expression of our passion for excellence.”
Looking to differentiate the ATS-V from lesser models are a host of unsubtle exterior changes, including a bulging, vented hood, a black mesh grille, 19-inch alloy wheels and wider, more aggressive front and rear bumpers.
A lip spoiler is glued to the trunk and four exhaust tips are tucked under the rear bumper.
Cadillac hasn’t announced pricing for the ATS-V sedan and coupe, but expect it to play in the same pricing sandbox as BMW’s M3 and M4, which start at $63,000 and $65,000 respectively.
The ATS-V twins go on sale in the spring and lay the groundwork for the next snarling sedan from Cadillac. The brand is widely expected to debut the larger CTS-V sedan at the Detroit Auto Show in January. That model will go directly after BMW’s M5 and its horsepower figure could approach 600.
“It will take time and a lot of hard work ... but it is happening,” de Nysschen said. “This 112-year-old car maker has dared to go about reinventing itself.”
That ought to catch the Germans’ attention.