Having (recently) driven all three of the serious contenders here (Audi, BMW, Cadillac), I can tell you that:
The BMW is overall probably the better car. The Cadillac is close. A lot (obviously) comes down to preferences, but the BMW's engine+transmission is just so much better than the Cadillac's, that I would give the nod to BMW. The Cadillac's steering feel is better, though. To clarify -- you can't go wrong with the Cadillac. But having driven a manual 328i Sport back to back to a an ATS 2.0t, the 328i did it for me. But both are really wonderful cars.
The Audi is also a great car, but it feels a bit sloppy and dated. And it's time to update the 2.0t. It is a great powerplant, but compared to BMW's new N20/N26, it feels about a decade old.
Last edited by SchnellFowVay; 01-24-2013 at 03:03 PM.
Last edited by vrsexxy_GTI; 01-24-2013 at 03:08 PM.
As for the engine arguement, the BMW one might be slightly better than the ATS stock vs stock, but I have first hand experience as to how good the GM 2.0T can be. My friend has a Cobalt SS that with bolt-ons and a tune that can really run. I cannot ever leave well enough alone so that is always a consideration on my part.
Last edited by silverlegacy; 01-24-2013 at 03:19 PM.
I must be the only person that doesn't like the ATS. I haven't driven them all (not the newest iterations anyway) but I have been in all of them at several auto shows so far. The ATS interior is the worst to me. I wouldn't want to spend any amount of time in that car. The center stack and wood used on the dash just look cheap to me. The rear ingress/egress is the worst by far due to the rear fender well. I'm sure it drives well but with the others being nearly equal in performance, I'd choose any of them over the ATS.
For someone with my vehicular needs, the rear door opening isn't a big deal. My needs could be met by a coupe, but I like sedans. My Saab has a similarly tight lower rear door opening. The only person that has ridden in the back of it who had ingress/egress issues was my 92 year old grandfather. He likes sitting in the back of cars, I don't get it, but he's 92 and he can do what he wants.
Honestly, the thing I like best about the ATS is that you can get it in blue. I know color's kind of trivial, but when most entry level luxury cars are black/grey/silver/white blue seems special. I've wanted a blue car since I fell in love with the Viggen 14 years ago. The blue looks great, is well coordinated with the dash lighting, and really just makes me happy. The 6-speed/turbo four combo is also so un-Cadillac-of-yore too.
There is one car left off this list though that I probably wouldn't take over the ATS, but would probably take over the rest. It's easily forgotten, also American(ish), and has a lot of the same pluses as the ATS: The Buick Regal GS. The bodywork looks great, the bones are good, the interior looks really nice, it comes in red with a six speed manual(but FWD), and it's a bit cheaper than the rest... It's also better looking than the rest, but that's just like, my opinion, man.
Yes, I am 22 years old and I just said I would take a Cadillac AND a Buick Regal over an Audi, a BMW, an Infiniti, a Lexus, and a forgettable Mercedes.
Last edited by BattleRabbit; 01-24-2013 at 03:49 PM.
Lots and lots of money spent...
None of them with the base motors (except maybe the Q50) does anything for me, so I suppose I would pick that if I couldn't move up to the next motor on the list.
If I could pick other engine options in the non-ultra high performance category (non-M or RS models), I'd probably go for the S4 over the others. Seems like an excellent car when equipped with the tq vectoring rear diff. The 335 would be a close second and then you have the others. I don't want a 4-cyl turbo in my sports sedan, so the ATS would be out because the V6 isn't available with a manual. The IS bores me in all versions except the much higher performance F model (but it also doesn't have a manual which would probably kick it out of contention anyway). The the Q50 is a bit of a mystery as far as optional engines and performance versions are concerned. Reading about this vehicle on the Motor Trend app, it doesn't look like a manual will be offered, so if that's the case, I would never consider one regardless of the engine or the price.