Cadillac ATS 2.5 vs E30 BMW M3 2.3L?

Can you buy a Cadillac ATS 2.5L and imagine you are getting a modern E30 M3?  How does the upcoming Cadillac ATS compare to the original 1986 E30 BMW M3?  The Cadillac ATS 2.5L is the standard version of the upcoming ATS sports sedan.  The E30 BMW M3 was the original M3, created in 1986 to race against the Mercedes W201 190E (1982-1993).

BMW M3 E30

BMW M3 E30

The first M3 was something of a parts bin special, with bits of this BMW and that BMW to form an interesting new street fighter.  It used the 4-cylinder engine from the 320 of the time, reinforced, and with valvetrain from the M1 supercar.  The engine was designated S14.  The 2.3L E30 M3 four-cylinder produced 192 hp at 6750 rpm and 177 lb ft of torque at 3750 rpm.

E30 BMW M3 Vehicle Dimensions
  • weight 2866 lbs
  • wheelbase 101.0 in
  • front track 55.6 in
  • rear track 56.1 in
  • length 171.1 in
  • width 66.1 in
  • height 53.9 in

The all-new Cadillac ATS navigates through the turns and straightaways at Atlanta Motorsports Park during performance testing Tuesday, May 8, 2012 in Dawsonville, Georgia. The Cadillac ATS is engineered to be the lightest compact luxury sports sedan, reducing weight through the use of advanced materials – but not at the expense of performance. (Photo by Sam Sharpe for Cadillac)

Cadillac ATS 2.5L

The Cadillac ATS 2.5L utilizes the new for 2013 GM 2.5L four cylinder.  It produces 202 hp at 6300 rpm and 191 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm.  Very light for a Cadillac, but bearing the improved safety and chassis rigidity of a modern car, the Cadillac ATS is heavier than the 1986 E30 M3.  The new Cadillac ATS weighs in at 3,315 lbs, or 449 lbs more than the first gen BMW M3.

Cadillac ATS 2.5L Vehicle Dimensions
  • weight 3315 lbs
  • wheelbase 109.3 in
  • front track 59.5 in
  • rear track 60.9 in
  • length 182.8 in
  • width 71.1 in
  • height 55.9 in


The E30 M3 could do 0–62 mph: 6.9 s. Top Speed: 146 mph

The Cadillac ATS 2.5L is projected for 0-60: 7.5 s. Top Speed: not announced.  However, since we know it comes with P225/45R17 90H all-season tires then expect a speed limiter at 128-130 mph.  Advantage: BMW


Skidpad numbers for the BMW are uncertain, but likely 0.87g or so.

Skidpad numbers for the ATS 2.5L are uncertain, but likely 0.85g or so.

Advantage: uncertain


Tip-top condition 50K mile M3: $37K+

Brand new Cadillac 2.5L: $34K+

Advantage: Cadillac

Miscellaneous Other non-performance stuff:

Luxury, features, interior space, MPG, etc all advantage Cadillac.

Appearance a matter of taste.

2.5L Cadillac ATS "LCV" Engine Dyno

2.5L Cadillac ATS “LCV” Engine Dyno


Okay, Bruce, Why did you slog through this comparison at all?

It occurs to me that although the 2L Turbo Four and 3.6L V6 versions of the Cadillac ATS will get the enthusiast attention, and the 2.5L Four regarded as ‘to be avoided’, the standard 202 hp four may give an experience more like the original M3.

Yes although the ATS is physically bigger than the E30 M3, it will have similar performance, and may be regarded to have similar charms.  It will be easier to find a nice, unmolested example, and easier to keep up.  But just as much fun on track days.

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