Our Four Seasons 2013 Cadillac ATS faced a challenge this month from a new competitor, the 2014 Infiniti Q50.
The ATS feels alive in your hands while the Q50 feels artificial.
The Infiniti Q50 is a significant and interesting car in its own right. It replaces the successful Infiniti G37 and introduces fascinating self-driving technologies. You can read our full review of it here. We should also note that the Infiniti was a preproduction model, which precluded a thorough comparison of the cars' interiors. For the purposes of our long-term test, we were nevertheless curious as to what the Q50 told us about our ATS.
Just looking at the Infiniti shines a new light on the ATS. Editors had been noting that this latest Cadillac offers -- for better or for worse -- a warmer take on the decade-old "Art and Science" design language.
"I'm normally turned off by Cadillac's boxy, angular design language, so I'm attracted to the ATS's slightly softer lines," notes Annie White, associate editor at our sister site, JeanKnowsCars.com.
With the 2014 Infiniti Q50 in the lot, however, it suddenly seems preposterous to think Cadillac design is going soft. The Q50's sheet metal looks to have been adapted from a painting -- all soft, voluptuous lines. The ATS, in comparison, could still have been drawn with a razor blade, even if the edges were then sanded down.
But if the Q50 looks more organic than the ATS, it certainly doesn't feel that way.
"The ATS feels alive in your hands while the Q50 feels artificial," notes deputy editor Joe DeMatio, adding, "The Cadillac feels smaller and far more athletic."
This says a lot about Cadillac's chassis development team. But it says even more about the ATS's mission. The cars share the same goal -- to peel away buyers from established bestsellers like the BMW 3-series -- but they go about it in a very different way.
"The new Infiniti Q50 seems to be about the technical wizardry, including the world's first production "steer-by-wire' system and a mild level of autonomy. Cadillac, by contrast, has used the 1998 to 2006 (E46-chassis) BMW 3-series as its bench mark, recreating the pinnacle of 3-series steering feel and feedback," says executive editor Todd Lassa. "The Q50 wears its technology on its sleeve, whereas the ATS wears its sportiness," confirms DeMatio.
There is a lot going for Infiniti's new formula. It struck DeMatio as the roomier, more comfortable car. "Perhaps some will prefer its interior ambience and its more voluptuous styling," he says. Lassa adds that the 2014 Infiniti Q50 reflects where most luxury sedans -- even sporty ones -- are headed. And yet we're thankful Cadillac is prioritizing driving dynamics.
"For those who seek a genuine, rear-wheel-drive performance sedan experience, the 2014 Infiniti Q50 provides little competition to the 2013 Cadillac ATS, which feels smaller and far more athletic than the Infiniti," concludes DeMatio.