Small cars and Cadillac haven't, historically, gone hand in hand. But they will in the near future, as General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] is already stepping up work on the Lansing plant where the Cadillac ATS compact sedan will be built. The work entails $190 million worth of upgrades and additions to the plant, including 600 additional workers to produce the car.

Cadillac's ATS has been on the drawing boards and kicking around rumormills for years now, with the target a compact sedan to slot below the CTS while still offering the unique look and premium feel the brand has cultivated over recent years. Though little on the ATS's appearance has leaked out of GM yet, the compact, Voltec-powered yet doomed Converj concept (pictured) could give a hint as to the direction Cadillac is looking.

Those fearing a front-drive ATS can rest easy for the time being, as previous reports put the ATS on the next-gen flexible rear-wheel drive platform that will also underpin the next CTS and Camaro, dubbed Alpha. Rear-wheel drive will likely be a necessity to compete on even ground with the ATS's ostensible targets: the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. All-wheel drive will also likely be available.

Also in the cards for the ATS platform are convertible, coupe, and wagon variants in addition to the sedan--again a necessary step to compete with the Germans and Japanese in the mid-luxury to luxury segments.

As for power, the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine slated for the Regal GS as well as the 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated four found in the standard Regal are likely candidates, though there's still a possibility that the 3.6-liter V-6 found in the CTS could find its way under the hood as well. Hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrains aren't out of the question either.

The Cadillac ATS could arrive later next year as a 2012 model.


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