Why The Cadillac ATS-V Features A Twin-Turbo V6 Over A V835
The 2018 Cadillac ATS-V is a fine car, and perhaps the best-handling of its rivals. But, the sport sedan and coupe have often carried one thorn: the 3.6-liter LF4 twin-turbo V6 engine.
No slouch, and not a poor performer by any means, the 3.6-liter V6 never matched what the ATS-V’s package offered up. And the car was originally meant to house a 6.2-liter LT1 V8 engine. Cadillac Society reported on Saturday the engineering plans were derailed between 2012 and 2014 under former Cadillac boss Bob Ferguson.
Ferguson reportedly declared the ATS-V must feature a twin-turbo V6 to match the winning formula of the BMW M3 and M4. Thus, the LF4 made its way under the hood and the LT1 was ousted.
The ATS-V quickly just fell in line with the competition, rather than arriving at the party as the bonkers Cadillac CTS-V’s raucous little brother. The CTS-V uses the 6.2-liter LT4 supercharged V8 engine, a derivative of the LT1.
It’s unclear what the future holds for a smaller Cadillac V-series car as the brand moves to replace the ATS, CTS and XTS with two sedans, likely called the CT5 and CT3. But, we’ll never know what the ATS-V could have been with an overhead valve V8 engine.
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Another case of the revolving door on Cadillac leaders.
GM has not given any of the leaders to develop a line and bring it to market. The path has been put plans in motion and then someone else comes in with a plan they did not want. Then cost cutting was tossed into the mid to make it worse.
The V8 would not have changed much but this is a good example of the lack of continuity in leadership Cadillac has suffered.
While I certainly have no gripes about the LF4, a 6.2 would’ve been a nice addition to ATS-V! The LF4 should’ve been, (and quite possibly should be) used as the mid-range powerplant in the ATS and all Cadillac products! I wonder what will become of it once the CT5 debuts….GM seems to be committed to utilizing the corporate NA 3.6 for Cadillac’s mid-range powerplant, and the 3.0TT has yet to used in anything beyond the CT6.
The LF3 and LF4 were one-and-done motors. They will soon be dropped once the CT5 comes out.
The 3.0TT LGW should have been the ATS V-sport motor, while the 6.2 LT1 should have been in the ATS-V. That’s a perfect lineup.
That’s the proper lineup, but I’d go further and suggest the 3.0TT should have been the midrange engine between the 2.0T and the 6.2 LT1.
I have a 3.6 ATS Coupe and the truth is that for the same money one could buy a BMW 2 series coupe with their incredible 3.0T I6. Why didn’t I? Because I bought my ATS used, and due to Cadillac’s stellar depreciation it was far less than a used 2 series coupe.
It’s not only BMW, most ATS rivals feature a superior upgrade engine, usually a forced induction 6 cylinder that gets better mileage than GM’s HFV6. It’s part of the reason the ATS was a failure.
Though I do agree that the up-level, mid-tier engine should have been the 3.0L TT V6 in the ATS, I would definitely not call the ATS a failure.
I’ve had conversations along those lines in the past with others, and it all comes down to this: the ATS made a decent first attempt at taking on its most direct rivals.
Factor in the fact that the ATS is/was a first-generation product in its space (the D segment) and that it was developed on a very tight budget, and the word “failure” should never be written in the same sentence as the ATS.
Another reason is that the TTV6 helped with weight distribution. That said, I think a SBC Cadillac (a Camaro for adults) would have sod better.
LT1 and LF4 allegedly are within a few pounds of each other. LT1 also has the advantage of a lower center of gravity and less rotational mass because no overhead cams. Alpha Camaro SS has posted a better Lightning Lap time than the ATS-V as well.
The brand manager stated to dealers that the TTV6 had better weight distribution and this was a key factor in the choice. The TTV6 weighs 20 pounds more than a LT1 but it’s possible the weight distribution is still a couple of % better with the TTV6.
Personally the vehicle would have done better with the LT1. With nearly $30k price difference ( with a typical build out) between an ATS-V & CTS-V it may have taken a few CTS-V sales away but not many. For the majority of V2 owners the ATS-V was too small and the V3 too expensive.
The reality is that dealers needed a talking point to explain to buyers why the ATS-V didn’t have one of GM’s legendary V8s. It didn’t have to be true, it only needed to sound plausible to uninformed buyers.
You have to think in more dimensions. The longer V-8 block puts more weight out toward the end of the car and effects the polar moment.
To the contrary, the LT1 has smaller dimensions every which way than the LF4 WITH the turbo hardware. The LT1 would have performed perfectly in the ATS-V, including any tangible polar moment metric, just like it performs perfectly in the Camaro SS.
Negative, the LF4 sits further back in the chassis and carries it’s weight closer to the yaw axis, which translates to meaningful handling benefits. This is a huge reason the current Corvette’s performance is well past the point of diminishing returns, hence the switch to mid-engine. Remember, engineers will go to great lengths to shave a few cm or drop the mass of a particular metric, and chassis design involves a lot strategic compromise in arranging the architecture.
“Let’s just copy the Germans” strikes again. SAD!
It’s sad when the reason for the copying has no relevant advantage, while being made by someone with little understanding of the automotive space or if Cadillac, despite being “an American”.
There have been some on here that have suggested that JdN was not the right person to run Cadillac because he isn’t American. Well, Ferguson is American. And he totally screwed the pooch.
Indeed, Ferguson doesn’t seem to understand what makes BMW so great. The M3 has been superior regardless of whether it had a I6TT or a high revving V8. It’s about engineering excellence and balance, about the whole being greater than the sum of parts.
The dumbarse didn’t even copy the BMW I6TT correctly. “Inline” being the operative word. GM’s high feature V6 is a nice engine, and fun to drive, but it can’t hold a candle to BMW’s I6 valvetronic.
45. Cadillac ATS-V Randy Pobst 1:31.43 470 / 1732
51. BMW M3 (F80) Randy Pobst 1:32.51 431 / 1589
Lol you german fanboys are funny, engineering excellence and balance, whole greater than the sum of the parts huh? yeah, you are right, I guess the engineering and balance was better in the ATSV since it went over a full second quicker around willow springs with pro driver driving both cars.
Ive personally driven both cars, both are great, but you are an idiot to act like the ATSV isnt a serious M3 competitor.
And obviously GM wasnt trying to copy the Inline 6, the LF4 is used in the ATSVR race car, its a hopped up version of the turbo LF3 which was a hopped up version of the LFX NA V6 engine that theyve been using since 2011.
Educate yourselves so you dont look like such baboons.
I guess I didn’t make myself very clear. I believe Cadillac’s engineers totally nailed the ATS-V, my point was that they nailed it despite Ferguson’s input, not because of it. Ferguson’s comment about the V6TT demonstrates that he has no clue why BMW makes such awesome cars (or even of the difference between an I6 and a V6, lol).
The alpha chassis demonstrates that Cadillac engineers DO understand what makes BMWs so great, and that they can beat them at their own game, mostly. They’ve still got work to do, because beating them with a one-off V engine is a lot easier than beating them with an entire lineup. That V8TT is a good start but Cadillac also need their own engines for lower trims. And new interior designers. I love my ATS but it’s dashboard and CUE are the work of imbeciles.
I gotcha. Ive heard a lot of hate towards the cue but I dont mind it at all. I pretty much only use the android auto stuff with google maps and pandora though. I have read a lot of horror stories about the screens/ digitizers breaking though
Where the V6 helped was it helped more with CTSV sales. If it had gone in the ATS it could have taken CTSV sales.
The model line up at Cadillac was a mess. The ATS was a CTS with less leg room and the CT6 was just too close to the CTS. The CT5 and CT6 should be better positioned vs what we have now.
The low volume performance model are fine but if you are not able to move the standard volume models no one wins.
The 3.6 Ltr TTC V6 should be a world class engine but certain members of GM’s management team are satisfied with a “very good” powerplant and do not wish to invest the resources to bring it up to the top competition. The “V” series is very important to Cadillac but GM’s focus seems to be elsewhere; otherwise they would be exploring options of developing a new 3.6V-6 based on the potent 4.2V-8.
From a second-or-third ownership / post-warranty aftermarket modification standpoint, the ATS-V is quite the diamond in the rough. It has the same serviceability as anything under GM’s roof, and the TTV6 selection has actually attracted premier tuners to the platform who are catapulting the car to 600hp without even having to turn a wrench. The LT1 would have been “more of the same” and would have left the ATS-V even more cannibalized by the Camaro than it is already.
Think Mercedes Benz C 63. Cadillac could have offered both like MB does. V6 or V8…let the customer decide!
And for goodness sake….upgrade the hideous gauge cluster to that of the CTS-V….how difficult could that be?
Erik is absolutely correct!
I own a 2016 ATS V and it’s a monster. The TTV6 is no slouch and the gas milage is amazing!! I’m averaging 20-24mpg with spirited driving. A simple 20min ECU tune from Trifecta and this car is easily pushing 600hp. Insane! The engineering on this car has been extremely well thought out. It’s not perfect but a damn great car to drive. Truly a driver’s car…
There is no question that the LF4 is a capable engine… but that’s not the point.
To me as an ATS owner, the real question is whether the ATS-V would have been better off with the LT1 in terms of 1) customer/driver experience and 2) sales volume.
I think it’s difficult to argue against answering “yes” to that question.
Cadillac was caught in a trap as they wanted to project an image that they could be like Europeans and the decision was made to develop twin-turbocharged 3.6L V6 engines; but the only problem was that the twin-turbo V6 engines couldn’t match the performance of the LT4 as it would be different if the LF4 was capable of generating the same 650 horsepower and gave the ATS-V superior performance than a Camaro.
But who is talking about matching the performance of the LT4 with the LF4? No one.
Similarly, making the ATS-V a better performer than the Camaro ZL1 (and the LT4) is also not something that anyone is thinking about.
What we are talking about is the LF4 being better than the LT1, which it (sadly) is not.
Does anyone wonder why they never released Nürburgring lap time on the ats-v and cts-v? I think the ats-v beat the cts-v and that’s why they never published the lap times…
jeez it is so fugly and dated
I agree with the author. Major blunder moving to a V6 — even BMW-files weren’t thrilled to hear of the demise of the V8 in the prior M3, so how unfortunate that Cadillac decided to follow suit.
But let’s not forget Cadillac had a chance for a reprieve with a rumored higher performance LS7 edition of the ATS-V, which JDN apparently squashed.
Another consequence of using the twin -turbo 6 in the ATS-V was eliminating the possibility of a V-sport version between the base car and the high performer.
Oh god, I HATE that caddy started doing that “vsport” crap, its just a fake like all the germans do with the msport and Sline crap, also, those vsport CTS didnt sell worth a shit. Theyre better off without them.
It’s not fake. It’s a mid-tier performance trim that is valued and purchased by many… those who do not need the all-out performance of the full-on V, M, AMG, RS car.
As for the CTS V-Sport… we don’t know whether they sold or not, since the numbers were never broken out. So let’s not make conclusions based on ZERO information.
That said, the entire CTS line could have sold better, but the product was not the reason for that. The revolving door of Cadillac executives and marketing people who restarted the direction for the brand, zero marketing support and very little support from corporate to retail is to blame…
They could have dropped in the 3.0TT V6 for a V-Sport, or even used it in lieu of the NA 3.6 V6.
I purchased my 2016 ATS V this year and love this car. I didn’t buy it sooner because I didn’t know about it. My first of many sports car were all foreign made, I was one of the guys who didn’t like Corvettes, and never thought to look at a CADILLAC! All of my sports cars over the past 50 years have been foreign cars. When GM recently started to make great Corvettes, I thought that was the way to go, but in doing my research, learned about the Cadillac sports sedans.
At first blush I was turned off by the V-6, but after reading about the engine and realizing a 3.5 liter V-6 was good enough for the Ford GT, a similar engine was good enough for my Cadillac. I love the technology. People like me are learning how great so many of the new American performance cars are, especially the Cadillacs.
The ATSV coupe is a world class sports car with its 3.6TT LF4 engine. All the people who talk about not having a V8 Corvette engine don’t really get it, they dont understand this is not purely a straight line car alone. The ATSV handles like a precision scalpel, carving up canyons and twisties like a supercar with its multi channel settings for suspension, exhaust and its Magnetic Ride Control. The Alpha platform is the most balanced I have felt in a RWD configuration. The engine is easily capable of 600+HP at the wheels and frankly one of the best vehicles I have ever driven. I have driven M4s, Porsches, Mercedes AMGs, Ferraris and many Vipers and Vettes..this is the ultimate sleeper that is capable of eating their lunch and has a great ride, is civilized when it needs to be. Frankly, Cadillac nailed it, they merely needed to leverage this success of engineering into better marketing and their convulsive shifting of CEOs and strategy remains confusing on a brand that simply needs to be promoted. At 3700 lbs this car is a marvel of engineering, from its brakes to its torque curve potential properly tuned to how it eats up the road. Bad form changing a winning formula. Having AWD creep in and potential electrification options was a better course.