2013 Cadillac ATS: Suck It, Germany

Illustration for article titled 2013 Cadillac ATS: Suck It, Germany

General Motors has done a stellar job of bringing the Cadillac brand back from the brink of death. The Art & Science design language — now ten years old — still seems fresh, new and young in an absolutely American way. The upgraded interiors finally make you feel like you might actually be sitting in a real luxury vehicle.


That said, Cadillac has always been an "odd" luxury brand — never having quite the right product to match up to the competition. The 2013 Cadillac ATS, aims to change that. For the first time in a generation (Do you remember the horrific Cadillac Cimarron of the 80s? We try not to.) GM's gonna have a true "compact" luxury sedan. Well, it's as "compact" as any "compact" can be these days. You know, something to compete with the Johann's of the world — the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C Class and Audi A4.

Well, on paper anyway.

Unlike past attempts in the class, on paper, the ATS looks like it can compete. Rear wheel drive? Check. It's supposedly got a nearly 50/50 weight balance. Check. It has Cadillac's first five-link independent rear suspension. Check. Multi-link double-pivot MacPherson strut front suspension with direct-acting stabilizer bar, Corvette ZR1-derived driver-adjustable FE3 sport suspension with Magnetic Ride Control real-time damping, four-channel ABS with optional Brembo brakes and available all-wheel drive? Check, check, and check.

Power? It'll compete there too with three powertrain options for the U.S. — two four-cylinder engines and a V6. A base 2.5-liter inline-four engine that nobody should buy and two optional engine options — an all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 270 horsepower and the 3.6-liter V6 that GM currently estimates will throw down an 335i-beating 318 horsepower.

Fuel economy? The peak fuel economy of one of the engine options will hit more than 30 MPG. But nevermind that. You're buying a luxury car. Better stats to look at include things like the number 135 — the number of horses produced for each of that turbocharged four-banger's liters. That's some serious Euro-beating power density for motivating a car that weighs "just" 3,400 lbs.

That's right, the curb weight is under 3,400 lbs, which means it's lighter than the BMW 335i. Yeah, you heard me right — GM built a car that's lighter than the competition. That alone just blew my mind.

Will the ATS offer both manual and automatic transmission options? Yes. There's a Tremec-sourced fully synchronized six-speed manual with single overdrive along with a Hydra-Matic six-speed, electronically controlled, automatic overdrive auto tranny with a torque converter clutch.


Toys? Yes, the ATS will have those too — Cadillac's new CUE system, as we first showed you last year, is the brand's new Apple-like infotainment system. And yes, it looks like it could be amazing.


But like everything with this car — we'll have to see how it all works together — because that's the true test of a luxury car. And Cadillac still needs to prove it can provide the same experience its German competitors do in a segment GM's luxury brand had long since abandoned.

Also, they'll need a coupe, a convertible, a wagon, and -V versions of all of the above. You know, for kids! Stay tuned for at least some of that.



That's cool and all, but why is the only recipe carmakers can come up with to beat German luxury brands to be more like them? Why can't anybody seem to come up with a viable alternative? The way it looks now, if you're in the market for a luxury car, you can either have it the teutonic way (no matter if it's actually a German car), or you buy an SUV (which obviously a lot of people do, but that's another market).

I mean, the ATS sure looks like a very well-made car, but aren't there buyers, especially in the US, who want something different than light-somewhat-sporty-yuppieness from their luxury cars? Even Jaguar is becoming more and more German.

Maybe as a European it's just my sadness about the world becoming less exotic, but do people really not want 20 ft. long body-on-frame sedans with endless hoods and trunks anymore (not to mention 7-liter V8's that get really shitty mileage)? Because to me, that's what has always been so cool about old-school Cadillacs and the like to me: they're a big "fuck you" on wheels. A 7-series says "fuck the poor", but an oldschool Caddy says "and fuck everyone else, too".