Years ago I owned a 1995 Cadillac (leased, actually) and always admired the six ducks in the logo on the hood and trunk. I have found through research that those birds were merlettes, present on the family crest of Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, the founder of the city of Detroit. That happened in 1701, and Henry Leland named his car after Cadillac when he started his auto manufacturer in 1902. He added the crest in 1905 and the merlettes were arranged in threes to represent the holy trinity.
My latest test car was a Cadillac; an ATS all-wheel drive sedan with the Performance Collection of assets – aluminum pedals, bolstered buckets, paddle transmission shifters, high intensity swivel headlamps, and Bose surround sound stereo. Also present were machined-finish 18” alloy wheels ($800), cold weather package ($600), navigation package with backup camera ($795), thunder gray chromaflair metallic paint ($995), and advanced security package ($395). Those items brought the total M.S.R.P. with freight to $48,375.
Along with those options, the ATS came with Morello red and black leather seating for 5, an 8” full color display, Bluetooth, heated steering wheel/front seats, proximity keyless entry with pushbutton starter, lighted door handles with puddle lights, remote starting, and power mirrors/windows/locks. No moon roof was present, but the buckets were adjustable with 12-way power (10-way for passenger). The Cadillac interior featured carbon-fiber trim on the dashboard as well as the door panels, and it stood out.
The engine in the ATS is a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder with direct injection and 272 horsepower (260 lb. ft. of torque). It’s mated to a six-speed automatic with tap-shift control and the aforementioned paddles. The turbo is a twin-scroll design that can provide 20 lbs. of boost with no turbo lag. Zero to sixty acceleration is reportedly 5.7 seconds and fuel economy is rated at 20-city and 30-highway. It burns premium, holds 16 gallons of gas, and I observed a 23 mpg reading for a week of driving. I drove a V-6 powered, slightly more expensive ATS last year, and my vote goes to this turbocharged 2.0 liter model.
The ride is firm on the ATS and the handling is way above average, and in fact the car feels lighter than its weight of 3,373 lbs. It features magnetic ride control, which reacts to road conditions ten times faster than the blink of an eye. Wheelbase is 109.3”, and overall length is 182.3”.
Styling on the new ATS is excellent, as is the tradition for Cadillacs since the turn of the century. Twin exhausts are mounted below the rear fascia, and the high intensity headlamp/park lamp assemblies have a distinctive look. Wheels are a bright finish ten-spoke design fitted with Michelin 225/40R18 Primacy all-season run-flat radials.
In model year 2000, Cadillac removed the little ducks, er, merlettes from the crest on front and rear of all their models. But I still think the ATS is “just ducky”.