Rear-wheel drive is a defining element of a luxury car for many buyers, endowing a car with superior handling and dynamics despite somewhat more expensive and marginally less efficient packaging. So it's with relief that Cadillac fans heard the news last week that the upcoming 'baby' sedan, dubbed the ATS, is officially confirmed to get rear-wheel drive standard, with optional all-wheel drive available. Today, even more details about the upcoming BMW 3-series fighter has come out.
The latest information on the ATS reveals that the car will possibly reflect some influence from GM's down-under subsidiary, Holden. About five years ago, Holden unveiled a rear-drive, mid-sized concept called the TT36 Torana, which actually previewed the styling of the upcoming VE Commodore (known here in the U.S. as the Pontiac G8).
But according to a GoAuto report, GM's new marketing chief and long-time product guru Bob Lutz has said the Torana is actually the basis for the Alpha platform spoken of so often in the U.S. media.
"Torana is a rear-wheel drive vehicle smaller than the Zeta architecture and smaller than the current CTS Cadillac architecture. It is, or would be, about the size of a BMW 1 Series – maybe just a tiny bit bigger to enable larger wheels,” said Lutz.
“Now that is the architecture that has been bandied about the US press under the name of ‘Alpha Architecture’, and Alpha is still under consideration, but we haven’t kicked off any design work or any engineering work because we have to sort our way through this 35 mpg task."
Holden, therefore, could be involved in any future Alpha platform development. Given the existing production and import/export relationships between Holden and GM's U.S. operations, it's an easy move.
The ATS will be part of General Motors' new small car platform family, so the drivetrain layout is likely to find its way into other small GM-branded vehicles, including Buick's upcoming small crossover. With its small size and likely affordable pricing, the ATS is intended to be Cadillac's highest-volume seller.
The new car's styling will be somewhat reminiscent of the current CTS, though it will also be its own vehicle. Going heads-up against BMW's 3-series and Mercedes C-Class in size and performance while undercutting them in price doesn't mean it will have any room to look less than put-together, however, so expect a package at least as tight as the CTS if Cadillac is going to reach its desired sales figures.
Cadillac is also working on a larger, more 7-series/S-Class-sized XTS flagship sedan, which will get some styling influence from the dramatic, long and sleek Sixteen Concept, though with a somewhat softer, more chrome-laden final result.