2012 Detroit Auto Show
What is it?
2013 Cadillac ATS
What's special about it?
The 2013 Cadillac ATS is the company's latest attempt to build a better BMW 3 Series. Just about every luxury manufacturer has tried to do the same before and none of them have cracked the code with any great success.
This time Cadillac isn't trying the bigger car/smaller price formula it used with the original CTS. Instead, the ATS is nearly identical in size to the latest 3 Series. In fact, the ATS is not even a half inch longer at 182.8 inches and fractionally shorter and wider at 55.9 and 71.1 inches, respectively.
More importantly, Cadillac says the ATS is lighter than a comparable 3 Series, too. It hasn't provided any final numbers yet, but Cadillac says the ATS will weigh less than 3,400 pounds. We assume that's for the lightest configuration possible. In the 3 Series lineup that means a 328i with a manual transmission and it tips the scales at 3,406 pounds. Let's hope Cadillac does better than 3,399 pounds.
No matter how far under the 3,400-pound threshold Cadillac gets, the ATS will be well-equipped to outrun the 3 Series, provided you choose the right engine. Three different engines will be available, the least powerful of which is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 200 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque. We suspect this is the bottom-feeder special, or the car Cadillac will use to drop the price under $30,000 and suck in a few extra step-up buyers who might otherwise opt for a loaded non-luxury sedan.
The real fun starts with the optional turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It develops 270 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, a significant bump over the 240-hp 2.0-liter engine found in the base 3 Series. Then there's the V6 option, which delivers 318 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. Both a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic transmission will be offered, although Cadillac hasn't specified in which configurations.
An all-new rear-wheel-drive platform underpins the ATS. Cadillac says the new chassis delivers a nearly 50/50 front-to-rear weight balance. The front suspension is a multilink, double-pivot MacPherson strut design, while the rear suspension is a five-link, fully independent setup. An optional "FE3" suspension will be available that adds driver-adjustable Magnetic Ride Control similar to the larger XTS sedan. A set of 17-inch wheels will come standard, while 18-inch wheels and Brembo brakes will be optional.
As far as interior features go, the ATS will offer all the safety and convenience features you would expect in an entry-level sport sedan. Its one ace in the hole is the company's new CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system. It pairs a touch-sensitive screen with the ability to connect with up to 10 Bluetooth devices to deliver music, phone and navigation integration, with a minimalist design that keeps the button count to a minimum. Like so many other aspects of the ATS, we'll have to try it out before we'll know for sure if it's an improvement over the competition or not.
Edmunds.com says: Cadillac finally goes after the BMW 3 Series head-on in terms of size, power and features. It looks good on paper. We'll see how it feels on the road later this year.