Cadillac ATS Coupe
Cadillac made strategic choices to reach the enthusiast driver with its compact, four-seat 2015 ATS Coupe. The ATS Coupe, which is based on the Consumers Digest Best Buy ATS Sedan, will have a 2.0-liter, 272-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine or an optional 3.6-liter, 321-hp V6 engine. (Both engines are more powerful than the four- and six-cylinder engines that are available in the BMW 4 Series coupe.) The ATS Coupe will be available in rear- or all-wheel drive with the choice of a six-speed manual transmission and the four-cylinder or a six-speed tap-shift automatic transmission with the V6. As of press time, the vehicle was unavailable to test-drive, but we expect that this car’s power, particularly with a manual transmission, will provide a lively ride. Run-flat, all-season tires are standard on the vehicle’s 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Estimated fuel-economy ratings are 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway for the 2.0-liter engine and 18 mpg city/31 mpg highway for the 3.6-liter engine. The coupe has roughly the same exterior size as the 4 Series coupe does but notably less headroom, back-seat space and trunk capacity. Still, the ATS Coupe dares to compete with the European brands, even if its styling isn’t as striking as that of Cadillac’s larger CTS Coupe.
You can see it in showrooms: Late summer 2014
MSRP: $35,000 (estimated)
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
You shouldn’t expect Mercedes’ first electric vehicle to be merely a short-trip alternative to riding the bus. Because its drive system comes from Tesla Motors, this 2014 subcompact four-door hatchback uses that company’s 174-hp motor, which Mercedes says will pull the B-Class Electric Drive to 60 mph in an estimated 7.9 seconds. That isn’t exactly sports-car quickness, but, because an electric motor provides instant acceleration, we expect real punch from zero to 30 mph. The five-seat B-Class Electric Drive’s lithium-ion battery is sandwiched beneath the cabin floor, where it doesn’t take away from cabin or cargo capacity. The battery can produce a cruising range of 100 miles, the manufacturer says. Charging a depleted battery from a public or home 240-volt system takes about 4 hours, Mercedes says, or you can get 60 miles with a 2-hour charge.
You can see it in showrooms: July 2014
MSRP: Low $40,000s (estimated)
Finally, we get an innovative and reasonably attractive midsize sedan from Chrysler. Based on an Alfa Romeo chassis, like the Dodge Dart’s, the 2015 Chrysler 200 should provide capable handling. The 200 will have two engine choices—a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder model that generates 184 hp, and a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 295 horses. The 200 also comes with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive and a new nine-speed automatic transmission, which aims at fuel economy. Chrysler pegged the fuel economy of the version that’s equipped with the standard 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine at 36 mpg highway. Handsome interior materials and technological design features will give the 200 some distinction in this highly competitive segment. Standard features include an electronic parking brake and a space-saving rotary gear-selector dial instead of the traditional shift lever that’s located on the console. That console has been rethought to include rear pass-through storage, a covered charging station and sliding cup holders. Options include parallel- and perpendicular-parking guidance—firsts for the 200.
You can see it in showrooms: Summer 2014
Mark Maynard is the automotive editor at U-T San Diego and the host of “Maynard’s Garage Radio” at wsradio.com. His articles are syndicated across the United States.