Cadillac has been steadily improving its products for a decade, shedding its old man stigma in favor of a new brand identity, favoring luxury with a performance twist. After all this time, on the eve of the Detroit Auto Show, the GM luxury division is finally ready to put its money where its mouth is, launching the ATS as a direct rival to the segment leading BMW 3 Series.
With a choice of a 4-cylinder, turbo 4-cylinder or V6, the ATS matches solid power with one of the lowest curb weights in the segment, with Caddy claiming the ATS will come in at under 3,400 lbs.
Weight reduction was key in the development of the ATS, helping to maximize the performance and efficiency of the powertrains while making the vehicle more nimble overall. Cadillac says every component of the vehicle was checked to see if a lighter alternative could be found. To help keep weight to a minimum the ATS features an aluminum hood, magnesium engine mounts and “natural-fiber” door trim panels. The result shows in the vehicle’s balance as well, with a 51/49 weight distribution.
Based on an all-new rear-drive architecture, the ATS uses a MacPherson front suspension and the brand’s first 5-link independent rear end. Both automatic and manual transmissions will be offered, as will all-wheel drive.
To maximize performance the ATS comes with an adjustable Magnetic Ride Control suspension standard, a ZF variable electric steering system and 17-inch wheels. Brembo brakes and 18-inch wheels are optional.
As mentioned, three powertrains will be available with a base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder making 200 hp and 188 lb-ft of torque. A mid-level turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder will deliver 270 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque from just 2400 rpm, while a top-level direct-injection 3.6L V6 makes 318 hp and 267 lb-ft. Cadillac says the ATS will get over 30 mpg highway – aided in part by grille shutters that close at highways speeds.
In terms of design, the ATS is clearly a Cadillac, with an overall shape similar to that of the CTS, while taking design cues from the new XTS flagship sedan. Most evident is a wider two-piece grille that’s still imposing but toned-down on the chrome.
Inside the cabin is a solid leap forward, using real wood, metal and carbon fiber as well as hand-stitched leather on the instrument panel, console and doors. Numerous color options are available and Cadillac says the cabin was designed to offer a driver-focused experience. Of note, sport seats with power-adjustable side bolsters will be available.
A focal point in the cabin is Cadillac’s new CUE telematics system, designed to be both high-tech and easy-to-use, with iPad like controls on the 8-inch LCD screen.
In addition, Cadillac has stuffed its new car with numerous safety and convenience technologies that include: a back-up camera, full speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, adaptive forward lighting, hill hold assist, a collision alert system and even intelligent brake assist that will stop the car on its own (going forward or in reverse) if a collision is detected.
“More than just another new entry, the ATS aims to change the status quo of the European-dominated segment,” says Caddy VP of marketing Don Butler.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS will go on sale this summer.