BMW used to make the best driver’s cars in the world, but with the old 1-series coupe having just gone out of production, they’re no longer in that business. Ironically it’s a different group of neo-Fascists who seem to have discovered this gap in the market. The non-Chinese luxury brand of the nationalized American automaker, GM seems to think targeting the circa 1999-2006 BMW 3-series with their new small Caddy is the best bet for brand relevance. For the first time since the Eisenhower era, they’ve made a car that actually does what it says. In fact, the best ‘new Bimmer’ you can buy is a Cadillac ATS. I’m not joking, the car is that f-ing good.
How did we get to this point? Well, the Bavarians are chasing Chinese customers, so the current ‘F30’ generation 3-series is the size of a 5er, has a cheap interior, and is clearly built on the cheap despite the designer price tag. It’s like a late 90’s/early 00’s Mercedes, which is to say it’s badge-whoring crap. You know, like a fused construction Hugo Boss costing more than off-the-Row bespoke. Plus, the other brand, Audi has made their A4 so big that the new A3 has to take its size/price point in the lineup. They’ve also turned what was the best handling car they’ve made in decades into something rather dangerous with a switch to a poor performing EPS setup. And the fact that VW has one of the few good electric power steering setups in the Golf/GTI means the down market brand has the better cars once again in the world of Dr Piëch… At least they;ve sorted the ride quality. We could also talk about the Japanese, but the new Lexus IS and the (Renault-owned) Infiniti Q-something (it used to be the ‘G’ before they went nuts with those new names) have grown, dropped their manual gear-boxes, and never really gave an impression of being made for European tastes. Plus, Jaguar has decided to launch their sports car before the volume seller, so only the Americans were left to compete for the top spot now vacated by the Bavarians.
Chrysler, which was formerly ‘nationalized’ like GM, is now owned by FIAT, and they really only do Jeeps which are competitive globally, so no luck there. Ford tarts up regular cars to be sold to pensioners in Florida and Hertz as Lincolns, which rules them out, and GM has a brand that does this exact for old-aged persons and the Chinese in Buick. They did have the one uniquely American brand that had made a few (some very bad) abortive-efforts at competing with the Europeans in Cadillac, but with the US government as their largest shareholder, clearly a fourth attempt at building a BMW-killer was out of the question. Of course, this is the American government, and spending fake money borrowed from the Chinese Communists is what they do best, and spending it seemingly without a real plan is how they roll. So, the Cadillac ATS had to be awful, right?
No, you see, with piss-poor Government oversight, GM’s best designers and engineers were able to made a car without the Old GM management getting in the way. Well, as long as they built it in Michigan with UAW labour they could, so they did. And, what they’ve done is benchmark the older E46 generation BMW 3-series, which was brilliant, and they did something rather un-American, Cadillac made a car that wasn’t ‘Super-sized’. No, the ATS is smaller than the competition, with less interior space, and a ‘trunk’ which can’t carry enough cargo to feed all of Eritrea or 5 Midwesterners after a trip to Walmart (the volume of food required is the same for both, by the way).
The result is utterly brilliant, even if it’s difficult to get one setup properly. You see, the ATS is still sold by Cadillacs nearly non-existent European dealer network or their fairly useless, ‘old-school’ North American one. Finding a 2.0L Turbo Performance with the lower-cost, optional six-speed manual gearbox is a real bitch, but it’s the one to get. You wouldn’t want to be driving around in a non-baller Caddy, would you? And, clearly with some of the colour combinations, garish interiors, and blinged out wheels available to be specced on the order sheet, this is apparently how the marketing folks at GM still see the brand. You can get grey or silver with a light grey or black interior and regular alloy wheels, and in these colours the car is really rather pretty, so please illegally cull the brand managers at GM like you did their CEO, Mr. Obama.
But you’re probably asking, What’s it like to drive? Like an old 330i with the sport package whilst wearing some Bose noise-canceling headphones, so they’ve hit the mark dead on. However, the Cadillac ATS utterly pulverises the old product of that once great Bayerische Motoren Werke on three fronts… The Magnetic Ride Control makes any non-German road seem like it wasn’t built by the low bidder and never maintained properly, the overall interior quality is better than the competing Audi, and they’re not screwing you on the price. The bespoke platform Caddy is 1,000s of arbitrary currency units cheaper than the BMW, and it’s fully kitted out for that lower price. Plus, Cadillac’s engineers actually responded to complaints about the shifting of the manual gearbox after the press introduction; they fixed the issue immediately even though it meant delaying production for a number of weeks. The result is is great car, and the CUE system, whilst short on buttons and knobs, actually works, unlike BMW’s i-Drive. And, given the mechanical records GM Powertrain, which kept all the old SAAB engineers, and BMW have had with their turbo engines over the past few years, I’d be willing to bet the oily bits of the Cadillac might work longer than the Bimmer too! The only thing that would make the ATS better would be a small displacement V8 or a turbo six with a six-speed self-shifter, and I hear that’s ‘coming down the pike’ with the V model.
What more can one say… America is now home to warrantless spying, a pork-loving south, an expansionist foreign policy, loads of imported/slave labour, a new Fascist healthcare system, extrajudicial murders ordered by the Head of Government, Jürgen Klinsmann as the manager of their national football team, and the best sports saloon currently made. With the helmets used by their army, you’d think they were trying to copy this country right in the centre of Europe. You know, the one who used to own most what’s now Poland, the eastern sliver of France that makes beer, and the part of Russia that’s not really Russian. I can’t think of the name right of the top of my head, but I do recall it took Britain to put an end to them… I’ll be waiting for the baby Jaguar, yet it looks like the USA is currently winning this one. But for now, go buy an ATS, the American taxpayers really need it to be a hit, so their government can get out of this whole ‘nationalized socialism’ thing they have going in their car industry. Most of them have guns, so it might behoove you to do as they wish before they have to ask.