2016 Cadillac ATS-V vs. 2004 Cadillac CTS-V Showdown : Generation Gap

Time is a flat circle, especially in the automotive industry, where if you drive long enough you’re likely to meet yourself coming back around again. This was exactly how I felt whenCadillac debuted the ATS-V sedan just last year: here was a four-door sports sedan aimed at entry-level buyers who might have previously considered a BMW – specifically, one with an ‘M’ badge on the trunk. It was déjà vu all over again, because you see, I’ve had that same Cadillac formula sitting in my garage for close to a decade now.

Confused? Let me explain. Back in the early 2000s, Cadillac needed a game-changer to try and break free from its image as the purveyor of mile-long grandpa rides stuffed with more leather than a BDSM convention. The answer seemed to lie in the upcoming CTS sedan, which arrived for the 2003 model year and whose platform had been designed from the start to offer the level of athleticism required to compete on an even plain with the European luxury brands that dominated the market.

The ATS parallels are numerous: the first-generation CTS was a small (slotting in somewhere between the 3 Series and the 5 Series), rear-wheel drive sedan paired with an attractive price and a (gasp!) manual transmission. Things really got interesting the year after, however, when Cadillac made the CTS the first V-badged vehicle in its long history by dropping in a 5.7-liter LS6 V8 engine pulled from the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, making a six-speed manual gearbox mandatory, and selling it in your choice of either all-silver or blacked-out paint schemes.

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