2013 Cadillac ATS: First Look

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Having moved fully into competition with the best of the luxury and performance brands from Germany and Japan in terms of quality--though not yet volume--with the CTS and its many variants, Cadillac now seeks to build its portfolio of world-class cars. The upcoming XTS large sedan will sit above the CTS, but it may be the ATS that does the most to contribute to sales figures and the bottom line--but only if it's a home run.

Why? Because the 2013 ATS faces off against the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, both brand new this year, and both fantastic mid-level luxury sedans in their own right. The ATS will need to be at least as good, if not better, to win customers away and build its own base. From what we can see in this preview, it's off to a good start.

Styled to reflect Cadillac's Art & Science design philosophy while presenting a fresh and unique face, the ATS doesn't copy Cadillac's own cars or anyone elses, instead striking out its own ground, and doing it with bold lines, strong proportions, and elegant details.

According to Cadillac's Don Butler, vice president of marketing, the ATS was also designed with an eye toward sportiness: “Designed with quick, nimble and fun-to-drive dynamics, ATS expands Cadillac’s portfolio into a crucial global segment. For a new group of luxury consumers, this is a car that will fit their lifestyle and challenge the segment’s status quo.”  

OK, so it looks pretty sharp. But what about the hard figures? Those look pretty good, too.

Weighing in at less than 3,400 pounds, it's right on par with, if not lighter than, its core German and Japanese rivals. Weight balance is nearly 50/50, it features a MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear, and it offers driver-adjustable magnetic-ride dampers.

Engine options are perhaps the highlight of the ATS, offering more choices and, in some cases, more power, than rivals with a 270-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder, and a 3.6-liter, 318-horsepower V-6. Further down the track, a highly-efficient turbodiesel is expected too.

All-wheel drive is also available, as is a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions--though it's not clear if the manual will be available with all-wheel drive. For those that don't opt to drive all four wheels, rear-drive will be standard.

Electronics and features are another important element in the luxury sedan segment, and the ATS offers Cadillac's new CUE infotainment system, which uses an 8-inch LCD multi-touch capacitive screen to interface with the in-car computer, which can store up to 10 Bluetooth phone connections, read SD and USB memory, and interface with MP3 players, as well as respond to voice commands. Keyless entry, push-button start, a 5.7-inch reconfigurable instrument panel LCD display, full-color reconfigurable heads-up display, and more are also available.

Also packaged in the ATS is a host of available safety technology, including adaptive cruise control, brake assist, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, rear-view camera, adaptive lighting, and hill hold/hill start assist, which is standard with manual transmission cars.

For all of the details, including a detailed spec sheet, read the full release on page two.

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