It's been a good year. We've had the privilege of driving numerous new or significantly updated models that set new standards for luxury and performance. Of that group, we had to leave several excellent vehicles off our list of finalists, but seven cars rose to the top like so much delicious cream.

During the next two weeks, we will profile each of these cars, making the case for why they could be the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2016. Up first is a BMW M3 fighter from Cadillac.

The case for the Cadillac ATS-V

BMW aimed for the BMW M3/M4 with the ATS-V and scored a direct shot. With a twin-turbocharged 464-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 under the hood, the ATS-V is capable of a 0 to 60 mph run of just 3.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 199 mph. But this car is about more than just straight-line speed. The excellent platform from the ATS sport coupe and sport sedan is made event stiffer for V duty, the body gets plenty of cooling and aero changes, and sticky tires and big brakes make this a track-ready beast that will match the vaunted BMW around any given circuit. But the Cadillac will do it with more feel and more passion than the BMW, which often feels cold and clinical.

The ATS-V also has some features to make any driver feel like a hero. Activate the downshift rev matching and you won't have to heel-and-toe to keep gear changes from upsetting the balance; this system does that for you, even with the manual transmission. Cadillac also offers a no-lift-shift feature that helps you shift the manual transmission as quickly as possible. I tried these on a track and found that they let me concentrate on the racing line and made me a better performance driver.

2016 Cadillac ATS-V

2016 Cadillac ATS-V

The ATS-V is also a great car to live with on the road. The ride is firm but forgiving, a definite improvement over the sometimes-too-stiff BMW. While somewhat subdued, the sound is more inspiring than the BMW's somewhat industrial note. The seats are also enveloping and supportive on the street or on the track.

That's not to say that the BMW is a bad car. The Cadillac is just that good. If you thought that America in general and Cadillac in particular couldn't build a car that's as fast and as engaging as the best from Germany, it's time to think again.

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We'll announce our Best Car To Buy winner on January 4, along with the winners from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. We'll also reveal the winners in our Driver's Choice awards—as voted by you, our readers—at that time.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow when we make the case for the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V.


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