Detroit 2012: GM Announces 2013 Cadillac ATS

Cadillac’s CTS sedan, coupe and wagon range, as well as their enhanced V counterparts, have brought Cadillac up to BMW’s level.  The CTS-V has even bested cars well above its pay grade.  While the CTS was created to contend with BMW’s 5-Series sedan, Cadillac needed to do something about BMW’s volume-seller: The 3-Series.  Enter the Cadillac ATS, announced at this year’s Detroit auto show.  Combining rear-wheel drive, a sporting demeanor and an inviting interior, BMW just may have a fight on its hands.  Continue reading to see plenty of pictures and my breakdown of the upcoming 2013 Cadillac ATS.

Cadillac started with a “clean sheet” design for the ATS, meaning the underpinnings of this car are brand new.  According to Cadillac, that gives the ATS one of the lowest weight in its class, at under 3,400 pounds.  That’s svelte by today’s luxury car standards, which mostly hover at or above the 4,000 lb mark.  In addition to an all-new chassis, the ATS benefits from recent GM R&D under the hood, sporting a trio of engines.  The base engine, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, delivers 200 horsepower, but the optional engines are where the fun is.  A 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rounds up 270 horses, while a 3.6-liter V6 develops 320 of them.  I expect that the 2.0-liter turbo engine will be the volume seller, and it’ll most likely be the best-handling of the three setups.

Speaking of handling, the ATS will of course feature a fully-independent setup, but they’ll also have a magnetic ride setup, wherein the computer-controlled shocks adjust their stiffness hundreds of times per second.  The use of lightweight materials in the suspension has helped keep a nearly 50/50 weight balance, which is always good for handling.  Brembo brakes will be an option, to scrub speed off with gusto.

Beyond the engine, the ATS will offer up 6-speed transmissions in both automatic and manual setup, the latter for performance-oriented luxury buyers.  The ATS will be rear-wheel drive, with an optional all-wheel drive setup for those in snowier climes.

The end result of the chassis, engine and transmission should be a fairly frugal yet fun to drive sedan.  Cadillac is expecting the EPA to certify its ATS at over 30 MPGs on the highway, but I’d expect that only from the base engine, while the optional engines should rank in the high 20s.

Moving on to what we can see, the ATS closely resembles its CTS sedan sibling, just scaled down a bit.  Sharp creases abound, from the hood and front fascia to the rear of the car.  The flanks of the ATS show the most prominent curves, in a character line near the door sills.  The fender flares are curved too, which helps to hide them.  The dual exhaust outlets are in an odd position – not quite centered like the CTS-V, but not at the outer edges, as is seen in most cars.  The rear end also looks a little too much like the Acura TL for my liking, but still fits in the Cadillac design paradigm.

Inside, it’s more of the same from Cadillac, which is to say, very well done.  The most interesting color combination I’ve seen of the ATS is the gray seats with brown leather and dark wood trim.  It’s warm and inviting without being overdone.  The seats look like they could use a bit more bolstering, but should be comfortable enough for the daily commute.  Cadillac is showing off its CUE infotainment system in the new ATS, where the touch screen navigation system is linked to the digital gauge cluster, providing the driver with plenty of information at his or her fingertips, as well as a myriad of customizations.

Also in the technology department, Cadillac’s new ATS will feature a ton of safety and tech features, including the aforementioned Cadillac CUE system:

  • Full Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Intelligent Brake Assist
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Brake Pre-Fill Automatic Collision Preparation
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Side Blind Zone Alert
  • Rear Vision Camera With Dynamic Guidelines
  • Adaptive Forward Lighting
  • Hill Hold/Start Assist (Standard, manual transmission)

At the end of the day, I think Cadillac has ticked all the boxes on the sports sedan checklist:

  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Sporty suspension
  • Powerful brakes
  • Powerful engines
  • Manual transmission

Nobody can be sure that the Cadillac ATS will topple the segment-leading BMW 3-Series, but with the specifications and bodywork it’s strutting, the ATS looks to be a serious contender.  Look for the ATS in Cadillac showrooms starting this summer.

Show Press Release

by John Suit

Source: GM

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1 Response to “Detroit 2012: GM Announces 2013 Cadillac ATS”


  • Melinda McCutcheon

    LOVE the look of this ATS!!! The red interior with black is too cool… Any idea of pricing yet? Looks like just what I’ve been looking for.

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