Cadillac’s 2013 ATS sedan is arguably the most-hyped car to come from GM’s luxury division in decades. From the very beginning, Cadillac made it clear that the ATS was built to go head to head with the BMW 3 Series, long considered the leader in the compact luxury sedan class.
We’ve driven the ATS, but we can’t tell you about our impressions just yet. We can, however, tell you how the ATS stacks up against specific models from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW.
Base models of the Cadillac ATS come with a direct-injected, 202-horsepower in-line four that returns a GM-estimated 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The run from 0-60 takes 7.5 seconds, which is slower than the Mercedes C250 Luxury (6.9 seconds) and the Audi A4 Premium (6.3 seconds.).
Both the Mercedes and the Audi post higher horsepower numbers than the base Cadillac ATS, which helps explain why they’re quicker. On the other hand, the Cadillac posts better fuel economy numbers than either competitor, thanks to a curb weight that’s over 100 pounds lighter than the the Mercedes and nearly 200 pounds lighter than the Audi.
Cadillac's ATS proves less is more
The base ATS, however, isn’t targeted to driving enthusiasts. Those who see driving as a passion and not a chore will likely gravitate to the 2.0L Turbo Performance ATS, which comes packing a 272-horsepower turbocharged and direct-injected four with an available six speed manual transmission.
That’s enough grunt to get this version of the ATS from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, which is 0.2 seconds quicker than a BMW 3281 2.0L Turbo. In this case, though, the fuel economy nod goes to the BMW, which delivers fuel economy of 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, one mpg better in each category than Cadillac projects the ATS will return.
Opt for the 3.6L Premium variant of the ATS, and you’ll get a 3.6-liter V-6 engine good for 321 horsepower, enough to propel the fastest ATS from 0-60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. That’s the same time put up by the BMW 335i, which comes with a 300-horsepower turbocharged in-line six engine.
The 3.6L Premium ATS delivers comparable fuel economy, too, returning an estimated 19 mpg in the city (one better than the BMW) and 28 mpg on the highway (the same as the BMW).
One category where Cadillac will soundly beat the competition is price. A base 2.5L ATS, sans options, will start at just $33,990, while an optioned-out 3.6-liter with all-wheel drive will still sticker below $56,000. We’re guessing that range will net the ATS, and Cadillac, a lot of new fans.