In decades past, buyers could choose between performance or luxury, with few cars delivering a palatable balance of both traits. Thanks to modern advances in brake and suspension technology, today’s luxury car buyers can get the benefit of performance components without any drawbacks.
Cadillac’s new ATS sedan, for example, can be configured with high performance Brembo brakes, as well as with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension which can deliver both comfort and performance based upon a driver’s needs.
The high-tech suspension, developed by Delphi and licensed to such companies as Ferrari, uses magneto-rheological fluid to change the damping properties of the shocks. In easier-to-understand terms, tiny iron particles are suspended in the fluid, and these particles react to a magnetic charge.
With no charge applied, the shocks deliver the comfortable ride normally associated with luxury cars. Apply the maximum amount of charge, and you have dampers that would be best suited for racetrack use only.
While ATS drivers get three basic settings for Magnetic Ride Control (including “Tour,” “Sport” and “Snow/Ice”), sensors constantly monitor the road surface and driving style to fine-tune damping in as little as one millisecond. The difference in ride quality and performance is impressive, and better handling can often translate to increased safety.
That’s true with the ATS’ Brembo brakes, too, which are available as part of the Luxury, Performance or Premium packages. While brake fade isn’t much of an issue in street driving, the shorter stopping distances delivered by performance braking systems can help reduce accidents, or at least lessen their severity.
Now that Cadillac has dialed in the suspension and braking systems on the ATS, all we need are details on the engine in the heavily anticipated ATS-V. GM still isn’t confirming that an ATS-V is in the works, but you really can’t take on the BMW 3-Series without tackling the M3, too. We just hope that the ATS-V is as good as our expectations for it.