2013 Cadillac ATS spy shots
Cadillac is billing the upcoming ATS as a true BMW 3-Series fighter, but a new report from GM Inside News suggests the program is in the middle of a crash diet.
According to GMI, the ATS and its Alpha platform are suffering from mission creep--meaning that more vehicles and product attributes are being added to the program, which alters some of its fundamental engineering points, which in this case could be adding unwanted weight to the resulting cars.
GMI reports the original designs for the ATS' suspension were penned with the goal of near-perfect geometry for superior ride and handling. As engineers added features for an expanded Alpha portfolio--features like all-wheel drive, and a longer wheelbase version to underpin the next Cadillac CTS--the suspension design needed to change. GM's solution, the Web site reports, is to retune the chassis instead of redesigning the suspension entirely.
The Alpha platform also was conceived only for four-cylinder engines. To spawn a new CTS, the Alpha program needed to incorporate space for a naturally aspirated V-6 and a twin-turbo V-6.
GMI says the changes may have added nearly 500 pounds to the Alpha program, which could push the ATS' curb weight much closer to 4,000 lbs than originally intended. The BMW 335i weighs a little over 3,500 lbs, and the M3 weighs a little over 3,700 lbs, though it makes extensive use of weight-saving materials.GM is now working on weight-saving solutions for the Alpha vehicles; the program could incorporate composite body panels for certain areas of the car or powertrain tweaks.
In the meantime, the ATS program is said to be on track; GM recently discontinued production of the STS sedan to make room for the ATS at its Grand River assembly plant. Production is set to begin next year, in time for the 2013 model year.
Will the 2013 ATS be the BMW 3-Series fighter Cadillac is promising? For now, it's a weighty question.