America Puts Germany on Notice: 2013 Cadillac ATS Revealed at Detroit

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Eat this Germany: the 2013 Cadillac ATS arrives to take on the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4.

It's been a long time since Cadillac announced they had begun development on their long awaited ATS sport sedan. And this time they promised it was going to be different. Forget their misgivings of the past, which can be difficult for anyway who's driven a Catera. But this time it's different. The automotive world is different. GM is different. The all-new 2013 Cadillac ATS is the American luxury brand's lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sport sedan we've been craving for too long.


Weighing less than 3,400 pounds (roughly 100 pounds less than an Audi A4); it's powered by a broad lineup of engines, which includes an optional all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 270hp. A second 2.0-liter four banger, the 2.0T with 135hp, will be offered in Europe and it's one of the most power-dense engines in the industry. The base engine for North America is a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four with 200hp which GM claims is capable of 30 mpg on the highway. For those who have a thing against the concept of a four-cylinder powering a luxury sport sedan, then you're in luck.

The optional engine will be the familiar direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 with 318hp. As of now, no V8 will be offered, but Mark Reuss, GM North American President, has confirmed that a diesel option is on the way soon. No specific details have been announced just yet. Transmission options include a six-speed manual or an automatic. And in their quest to take on the likes of the BMW 3-Series and the Audi A4, Cadillac proudly notes that the ATS has a nearly 50/50 weight distribution, available all-wheel drive, a multi-link doubt-pivot MacPherson-strut front suspension with a direct-acting stabilizer bar, and available Brembo performance brakes.

"Designed with quick, nimble and fun-to-drive dynamics, the ATS expands Cadillac's portfolio into a crucial global segment," claims Don Butler, vice president of marketing for Cadillac. Exterior styling is a clear evolution of the brand's famous and striking Art & Science design language. Combined with standard 17-inch wheels and optional 18s, the ATS's presence is very much felt and when compared to say, the A4, and even the 3-Series. The front-end features new LED front signature lighting details and even the grille shutters close at certain highway speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag. Without question, Cadillac has some of the best exterior stylists in the industry.

Stepping inside, it has a driver-focused interior with integrated technology and crafted materials throughout. Cadillac claims that everything from the placement of the pedals to the position of the shifter has been designed for effortless and intuitive performance driving. The instrument panel wraps into the doors and the center stack flows into the center console, all of which is unmistakably Cadillac. Along with real wood, plated metal plating and carbon fiber trim, the whole interior is just as attractive as the bold exterior.


So how does it drive? According to Cadillac, the ATS is one of the segment's lightest cars which optimizes performance and efficiency of powertrains. Lightweight components include an aluminum hood, magnesium engine mount brackets, and even lightweight, natural-fiber door trim panels. The rear suspension is mostly steel which helps offset the weight of the engine and transmission at the front, thereby helping the ATS deliver its near-perfect weight balance. And as we know from the many spy shots, GM has conducted plenty of testing on the Nurburgring. In other words, we have high hopes.

No official pricing has been announced, but we're guessing that the base model with the 2.5 four banger will start at around $33-35k.

Will all of this be enough to take on the best of Germany? And can the ATS firmly give Cadillac the foothold in the global sport sedan market they've coveted for so long? Only time, testing, and comparisons will tell but from we see here today, Cadillac has finally designed and built from scratch what could turn out to be their best model in decades.


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