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ATS V takes on the Hell Cat and WINS!

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  • ATS V takes on the Hell Cat and WINS!

    The Cadillac ATS V takes on the fat cat and is declared the winner!
    Dodge Challenger Hellcat VS. Cadillac ATS-V Coupe - American performance superheroes battle it out!

    BY JEFF JABLANSKY
    JEFF JABLANSKY
    The best part about driving the ATS-V is that it makes you feel like a better driver.

    We’re living in a golden age for muscle cars. Almost every brand has a performance car as its halo atop a range spanning from hatchbacks to crossovers. The race to imbue them with more and more horsepower goes on uninterrupted, much to our delight.
    For a while, it seemed like true American supercars were being outpaced by European entries, led by Mercedes-AMG and BMW’s M division. But we’re very happy to report that the American muscle car market is alive and well.
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    That's why we brought together two of the best, for a head-to-head showdown between the Cadillac ATS-V Coupe and the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
    By most objective metrics, it makes the most sense to compare the fire-breathing Hellcat to a different Cadillac, the 640-hp supercharged CTS-V sedan. Looking more closely, however, the Hellcat and ATS-V Coupe are the competitors priced within a couple hundred dollars of one another.
    We also like the fact that these are true American two-doors with a pedigree known the world over. Yes, the ATS-V is down nearly 250-horsepower and two cylinders over the rip-roaring and V-8-powered Hellcat. But we aren't judging the winner here based on racetrack numbers or simple performance data. The best car here is going to win because it has the power and poise for all situations - i.e. the kind of driving you're most likely to do in the real world, not the automotive fantasy land presented in so many other reviews and comparisons.
    And trust us, you're going to be surprised by the result.
    Second Place: 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
    JEFF JABLANSKY
    The Challenger SRT Hellcat has the power of approximately 4.5 Mazda MX-5 Miatas, or almost ten Mitsubishi Mirage hatchbacks.

    The first thing you need to know about the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is that it’s an unapologetic hooligan. A crib sheet for the Hellcat would have “707 HP” above all other facts. This is a Dodge that’s more powerful than the Viper, yet two-thirds as expensive and built for the street, not the track.
    As soon as you begin to put the Hellcat’s supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 and massive output into perspective, the comparisons start rolling in. It has the power of approximately 4.5 Mazda MX-5 Miatas, or almost ten Mitsubishi Mirage hatchbacks. Even the all-powerful Tesla Model S P90D has less grunt. This is crazy, you think. You're not entirely wrong, either.
    JEFF JABLANSKY
    The interior is mostly stock, but a nifty SRT app in the UConnect infotainment cluster lets you know exactly how many of the 707-horsepower are in service at any given moment.

    The Challenger Hellcat's mean-looking appearance is no accident: the body kit and stance of the Hellcat is meant to intimidate other cars and drivers. Inside, ‘70s-style, over-bolstered front seats with an emblazoned SRT logo invite you to settle in before roasting the rear tires.
    The interior is mostly stock, but a nifty SRT app in the UConnect infotainment cluster lets you know exactly how many of the 707-horsepower are in service at any given moment. The dead giveaway to distinguishing the Challenger SRT Hellcat—and its four-door sibling, the Charger SRT Hellcat sedan—from less powerful models is the presence of dark, smoked wheels on meaty tires…and lack of tread on said tires. Oh, and the inner 'headlight' on the driver's side is actually an air intake. Go ahead, stuff your hand in one and find out for yourself.
    READ MORE ABOUT THE 2016 DODGE CHALLENGER SRT
    The rear-wheel-drive Hellcat has built something of a reputation for its ability to execute smoky burnouts. While we can neither confirm nor deny the awesomeness of this capability (it's confirmed!), this trait is the number-one concern of passersby and interested parties. Everyone will want you to lay down serious rubber in this muscle machine.
    JEFF JABLANSKY
    This is a Dodge that’s more powerful than the Viper, yet two-thirds as expensive and built for the street, not the track.

    Despite its looks, however, the fearsome Hellcat—which takes its name from extreme military aircraft—can be a pussycat to drive, when given a light touch of the throttle. This is more true in Hellcats equipped with the super-smooth 8-speed automatic transmission, but gentle control of the 6-speed manual can also produce very relaxed and everyday-drivable results.
    The gear lever in our test car had a vague tolerance for clicking into second and third gears. The Hellcat, like other Challengers, still feels a ponderous boat to maneuver. Compared to the Camaro and Mustang, the Challenger feels the biggest and softest of the three. Nicely weighted steering and enormous Brembo brakes make all this performance controllable, however, and also extremely exciting when you put your right foot down on the gas.
    JEFF JABLANSKY
    If driving the American muscle car with unmatched power and street cred is what you’re looking to do, either Hellcat should make your list.

    There’s no turning off the loud exhaust note, and the supercharged wail only gets louder as you step deeply into the accelerator. This isn't a car for the bashful.
    If driving the American muscle car with unmatched power and street cred is what you’re looking to do, either Hellcat should make your list. They’ll have you speaking in overzealous superlative cliches as you smoke those rear tires, time after time.
    Just be sure to hold on tight.
    Highs: Unmatched power, strong brakes, worldwide name recognition, huge trunk.
    Lows: Hard to keep under control, awkward shifter action, some quality issues
    Conclusion: A hero and a villain, all in one car.
    Vital Stats: 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
    Price: $63,490 (including $995 destination fee)
    Powertrain: Rear-wheel drive, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine, 707 hp, 650 lb.-ft. of torque, 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission
    Fuel economy (mpg, 6-speed manual): 13 mpg city / 21 mpg highway
    First Place: 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe
    JEFF JABLANSKY
    The Cadillac ATS-V Coupe is confident in its ability to precisely smoke almost any muscle car.

    If the Hellcat sits on one end of the performance car spectrum, focused mostly on sheer output and bragging rights, the Cadillac ATS-V Coupe rests comfortably on the other side, confident in its ability to precisely smoke almost any muscle car.
    There isn’t much to add about the ATS-V’s everyday performance beyond what we learned on our first drive of the coupe and its sedan counterpart late last year. The V treatment extends the goodness of the balanced ATS chassis, as well as the life of the gracefully aging ATS lineup. The package is tasteful, marrying optional carbon-fiber trim with an aggressive front splitter without coming off too rough-and-tumble or boy racer.
    Unlike the Hellcat, the interior has a more noticeable change from the ATS' standard luxury trim, with carbon fiber accents throughout. Well done, Cadillac.
    The best aspect about the ATS-V is the ability to drive it hard with very little effort. Its turbo-charged, 464-hp engine is a true gem, with power available in lower gears without having to run up to the top of the tachometer. Let the ATS-V roar, send the RPMs anywhere above 4,000, and the engine comes alive with the same scream we remember from taking it on a track.
    JEFF JABLANSKY
    The ATS-V's turbo-charged, 464-hp engine is a true gem, with power available in lower gears without having to run up to the top of the tachometer.

    With that in mind, turn the performance mode to “Track,” keep your foot steady on the accelerator, and let the ATS-V transform a highway on-ramp into the straightaway portion of Circuit of the Americas. Seriously, this Caddy's sound is intoxicating, both for occupants and passersby. The best part about driving the ATS-V is that it makes you feel like a better driver. That's unlike the 'hold on' Hellcat, which makes you fear for your own life, and those of wandering children, small woodland animals, and any elderly folk who happen to be within a one mile radius of the Dodge.
    Driving the ATS-V around Los Angeles and its environs was a tricky exercise in managing the expectations of the low front splitter and some high curbs. The ride was comfortable, if a little firm, throughout the drive. Using the aforementioned driving modes, you can tweak the ATS-V’s performance, but we chose to keep it in Sport and Track for almost the entire time. Steering is beefy and slightly over-boosted, though not at all as finger-light as the Hellcat’s
    If we have one major complaint with the ATS-V, it actually lies with the discord between it and the rest of the Cadillac performance car lineup.
    JEFF JABLANSKY
    Unlike the Hellcat, the interior has a more noticeable change from the ATS' standard luxury trim, with carbon fiber accents throughout.

    Forgetting “turbocharged v. supercharged” for a moment, there is a distinct lack of familial resemblance in the way the ATS-V and CTS-V express a vision of performance from the same brand. Whereas the mighty CTS-V is a lot like the Hellcat in its output and manners, the ATS-V is its sibling that attended finishing school.
    In other lineups, like the Mercedes-AMG collection, there is a natural progression and similar feel up and down the lineup, from C63 to S63. We wish more Cadillacs—and most other cars, actually—behaved like the ATS-V does.
    Highs: Sublime chassis, customizable driving modes, strong brakes, stealth looks.
    Lows: Poor rear visibility, tight back seat, some rough riding, feels distant from the CTS-V.
    Conclusion: The total performance package.
    Vital Stats: 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe
    Price: $63,660 (including $995 destination fee)
    Powertrain: Rear-wheel drive, 3.6-liter turbocharged V-6 engine, 464 hp, 445 lb.-ft. of torque, 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission
    Fuel economy (mpg, 6-speed manual): 17 mpg city / 23 mpg highway
    www.ATSVseries.com
    The forum by ATS-V owners for ATS-V owners!

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