All good 2013

By Laura Stampler laurastampler Dec. It was viewed more than 50 million times in less than two weeks. If it wins a Intuit sponsored competition, the commercial could secure a free slot in the Super Bowl. One of the best examples of this was when Pepsi Max had racecar driver Jeff Gordon disguise himself and give a used car salesman the most terrifying, high-octane test drive of his life.

All good 2013

While nearly every high-end marque has at least one offering with power at all four corners, the hardware can't help but play second fiddle to Ingolstadt's Quattro kingdom. Leather-lined all-wheel drive is simply Audi the way minimum wage is an English degree.

Engineers and designers made no secret of the fact that the baby Cadillac was penned specifically to take on the BMW 3 Seriesbut Audi should be no less concerned about the newest luxury prince from Detroit. GM has been stuffing all-wheel drive systems under their vehicles for years, but the effort hasn't come without nasty side effects.

Unfortunate understeer, extra ride height, smallish wheels and porky curb weight meant opting for all-wheel drive was like signing your driving pleasure's death warrant. Would you like polished brass or brushed nickel hardware for your right foot's coffin, sir?

But the Cadillac ATS 3.

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Is this neutral-driving powerhouse enough to punch a hole in the Audi front line? The ATS is entirely Cadillac in the best way possible. Cadillac has done a smart job of keeping the ATS AWD nearly indiscernible from its rear-wheel drive brethren outside, and the optional inch polished aluminum wheels of our tester help make the two machines functionally identical aesthetically.

Make no mistake, this is a damn-fine looking car. Properly aggressive features like the LED headlamps that stretch from front fascia to fender top and a mini cowl hood hint to the amount of power and handling prowess on hand, and the subtly flared haunches help hide a slightly wider rear track.

With a familial grille and taillamp treatment, the ATS is entirely Cadillac in the best way possible. And that theme continues indoors. The red leather and genuine carbon fiber of our tester flirts with lewd in the way a status symbol should, and its front seats offer enough bolstering to keep you planted when sawing on the wheel with a purpose.

Speaking of the steering wheel, we're smitten with the tiller's backlit redundant controls and small diameter, though we miss the swank paddle shifters we toyed with on our First Drive.

And what of Cadillac CUE? The touch-capacitive infotainment system clearly has its limitations. While the voice recognition software is superior to that of MyFord Touch or other systems, it can be confounded with basic commands. The center stack looks drop-dead gorgeous with its sleek, glossy panel and crisp illumination, and after a little time with the device, we no longer found ourselves struggling to get the controls to do our bidding.

Mash the volume or fan speed with a purposeful finger and CUE will play along.

Cadillac ATS AWD - Autoblog

Still, the tricks are more distracting than a classic button or dial, and we can't help but feel Cadillac sacrificed some functionality for the sake of style. CUE isn't the only sore spot indoors, either. The ATS suffers from a troubled back seat in terms of usable passenger volume, ingress and egress.

Combine that with a cramped trunk with Still, buyers looking for an expansive back seat and cavernous trunk space have plenty of options in the Cadillac line, and the ATS more than makes up for those faults on the road.

Engineers have managed to keep the machine's curb weight down to under 3, pounds, even with the added heft of the all-wheel drive system onboard. What's more, that weight is balanced nearly perfectly front to rear.

If that sounds familiar, it should. It's the same recipe BMW has been following for years now.

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The result is the best-driving Cadillac in the brand's history that doesn't carry a "-V" at the end of its name. The result is the best-driving Cadillac that doesn't carry a "-V" at the end of its name. Tackling a set of twisties reveals a remarkably rigid platform with none of the body roll or understeer of bygone Cadillac all-wheel drive models.

Our tester came with the optional FE3 Handling Package, and while the hardware will probably be a bit too stiff for buyers accustomed to the plush wafting of Cadillac cruisers of yore, we found it perfectly capable of walking the line between hard-hitting pavement pounder and comfortable highway frigate.

When we first tested the FE3 Sport Mode, we found the tech to be a little too downshift happy for use on public streets. Engineers seem to have assuaged that issue in the final release, however. Kick the machine to Sport Mode and the six-speed automatic gearbox is a perfect dance partner, dropping you into the right gear at the right time with blistering shifts.

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Drive like a responsible adult and the transmission delivers nearly imperceptible gear changes, both up and down the pattern. GM says the slusher can match or beat most dual-clutch units in shift speed, and we're inclined to believe it. While the Cadillac PR machine has raised plenty of racket over the turbocharged 2.

Power builds in an appropriate linear swell, with the gearbox making the most out of the admittedly absent low end torque. The full horsepower piles on at an atmospheric 6, rpm, but the engine's pound-feet of torque arrives at a somewhat more reasonable 4, rpm.

With the all-wheel drive system on board, the ATS pops off of stoplights with authority, and getting excited with your right foot will introduce you to the triple digits sooner rather than later. We were fortunate enough to give the all-wheel drive system a workout during the East Coast's first real snow storm of the season, and the hardware proved a suitable step up from previous GM efforts.But now I had to try to work the new blocks I had made into the grand scheme, and it all became a bit too much like hard work.

Over the last few days, I've rehashed the layout, played around with fabric ideas for the remaining blocks, crossed my fingers it was all going to work, and continued piecing.

Rejection doesn’t feel good to any of us. But, some of you respond better to being refused than others do. It’s easier for you to separate out who you are, personally, from the rejecting person or circumstance, as you are secure.

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All good 2013

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