- Max Speed
The ATS-V delivers a nice surprise before it’s even turned a wheel – it has got nine more bhp than the engineers originally thought. That might not sound like much on a car already boasting an ocean of power, but it’s enough to make the smallest V car more powerful than the base 455bhp C7 Corvette Stingray.
It’s also far from the only pleasant shock you get when you get behind the wheel of the ATS-V. The base saloon and coupe both impress with their well-mannered, neutral chassis. Yet they always feel like they would be a lot more entertaining with 50 per cent more power. The V car confirms that feeling is bang on.
The twin-blown bent-six engine is not the most sonorous unit – although it sounds meaty enough when it flies past on full chat – but there are no complaints about how it goes about its business. It’s entirely lag-free at all speeds. Is it faster in a straight line than the M3/M4? Oh yes.
However, as sweet as the engine is, it’s the way the little V handles that is probably its best trick. The chassis has been so dialled in that, even with 464bhp, there were a couple of places on the test track – the F1-approved Circuit of the Americas in Texas – where the car felt like it could do with even more. Not because it was slow – far from it – but because the chassis just didn’t feel like it was having to work very hard.
It’s 25 per cent stiffer than the standard ATS, which helps. But there are other bits that help contribute to the picture. The dampers let you run right over quite high kerbs and the car stays level and composed. There’s Performance Traction Management, borrowed from the Vette, which is nothing short of witchcraft. And there are tri-compound Michelin tyres that act like semi-slicks when they are warmed up.
All of which wouldn’t matter a jot if the car weren’t fun to drive. The good news is that it is a proper riot. This is good news not just for the baby V but also the big brother CTS-V, which we will drive later this year. It shares the same platform as the ATS yet boasts around 640bhp. So that should be quite a surprise, too.
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