For the record, if someone had invited me to ride so much as a skateboard around a full-fledged Formula 1 track I would have said yes in a heartbeat. But this was no skateboard. This was the 2016 ATS-V—quite possibly the most exciting car to come out of Cadillac’s Detroit stables in quite some time—and I would get the chance to thrash it around what is arguably the U.S.A.'s greatest race track, the Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
Now you may be asking yourself, “Why the hell is Ted so excited about taking a Cadillac around a track?” and if this had been a few years ago, you would've been onto something—I wouldn’t have been that excited. But this is a 2016 model year, and this is an entirely new Caddy we’re talking about. This is the car that has German automakers nervously reading press clippings from their blackberries. This is the car that was penned from paper to metal by semi-professional race car drivers.
Dammitall, this is a Caddy that has active rev-matching on a 6-speed manual transmission pushing 464HP with a Grand Turismo 6-level video recording system for when you take it racing.
Weekend warriors have had the luxury of installing similar video/performance readout functionality on their track cars for years, but the fact that a $60,465 luxury coupe (a full $4k less than the comparably equipped BMW M3) comes with a built-in SD card slot that automatically records all of your sideways shenanigans at the track has to be one of the boldest moves that Cadillac has made in the battle for world performance sedan supremacy.
Inside and out, the car's dripping with carbon fiber, bookmatched into a perfect V at the front and rear. It’s a simple detail, but to me it represented an attention to quality that simultaneously felt like the Cadillac from 50 years ago, as well as the V-Spec race team that’s been punishing the Italian stallions on the international touring car stage.
When you step back and take a look at how the ATS-V fits into the brand as a whole, it starts to make a lot of sense. Cadillac recently uprooted themselves from Detroit and moved their entire corporate headquarters to New York City, about a 10 minute walk west of my SoHo office. But why the move? Why now? Rebirth. Caddy wants you to remember the days when their cars sparked wonder in consumers. When driving a Cadillac truly meant something. When sitting in the driver's seat on the open road was more than just an experience. 20 laps on a track and 200 miles of backroad driving later, the ATS-V was immediately apparent as the rightful heir to their spiritual fortune.
Truthfully, I’m not sure that moving to New York is the panacea that century-old brands need to rediscover their soul. But if it means creating machines—like the ATS-V—that send my testicles up into my body cavity when I take them to the track, then I’m all for it.
Welcome back, Cadillac.
Ted Gushue is the Executive Editor of Supercompressor. His testicles are still lodged in his body cavity after last week’s track experience. Track his medical progress in real time on Twitter @tedgushue.