2013 Cadillac ATS at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show


  • Competes with: BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Acura TSX
  • Looks like: A sleeker CTS, except maybe in back
  • Drivetrain: 200-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder; 270-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder; 318-hp, 3.6-liter V-6; six-speed automatic or manual transmission; rear- or all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Summer 2012

Ever since the CTS grew with its second generation, Cadillac has needed a credible competitor in the entry-level, rear-wheel-drive sport sedan segment. Behold the long-awaited ATS, which hits Cadillac dealerships this summer.

More 2012 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

It's GM's latest shot at the BMW 3 Series, which is still the best-selling luxury car in America. Cadillac says the ATS weighs less than 3,400 pounds — less than the minimum weight of the 2012 Acura TSX (3,400 pounds), BMW 328i (3,406) and Audi A4 (3,505). That's an impressive statistic from GM, a company whose cars often show up heavier than that neighbor who ignored all restraint on holiday fudge.

Toward that end, the ATS is 8.5 inches shorter, bumper-to-bumper, than the CTS. It's also 1.4 inches narrower and 2.1 inches shorter wheels-to-roof. The footprint mirrors the 3 Series, while the A4 and TSX are a bit larger. Unfortunately, the shrink-wrapped package affects trunk volume, which measures a scant 10.2 cubic feet.

The ATS' narrower headlights represent the closest interpretation yet of the slit-like lamps on the Ciel and Converj concepts shown in 2011 and 2009, respectively. The protruding nose — with an offset center bumper inlet — recalls GM's Buick Regal, though the cars ride separate platforms. The Cadillac's short tail holds two inboard tailpipes, with a shoulder line that materializes under the C-pillar, winds around the trunk and disappears a few inches from Cadillac's deck logo. It could look interesting or dopey; we'll have to see the car in person to decide. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 18s optional.

Inside, the dash has genuine wood and metal trim, with similar stitching as in the CTS. Cadillac's CUE system — Cadillac User Experience — is front and center. First seen in the XTS sedan, CUE has an 8-inch touch-screen, smartphone multimedia integration and touch-sensitive buttons that motor out of the way for a storage cubby. Rounding out the safety front are up to 10 airbags, plus radar-based automatic braking in Drive or Reverse.

Like any decent automaker building a sport sedan, GM took to Germany's Nurburgring track — the Mecca of raceways — to develop the ATS. Cadillac says the chassis sports near-50/50 weight distribution and a multilink rear suspension. Brembo brakes are optional, as is a limited-slip rear differential and sport-tuned adaptive suspension.

Base models get a 200-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection. A 270-hp, turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder will be optional, as will Cadillac's familiar 318-hp, 3.6-liter V-6. All three engines can run on regular gas, though Cadillac recommends premium with the turbo. All-wheel drive is optional across the board. The ATS comes with a six-speed automatic, and a six-speed manual will be available with the turbo, but Cadillac hasn't determined whether the other engines will be offered with a stick. A spokesman told us it’s "less likely," and we wonder why the most powerful engine (3.6-liter) will be automatic-only.

Gas mileage is pending, but Cadillac says the car will deliver 30-plus mpg highway in at least one variation.

Clicking on any image below will launch a larger photo gallery; you can browse through them by hitting the right and left arrow keys.

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base engine makes 202 and 191lb-ft. V6 makes 215hp and 267lb-ft. Lots of sports sedans limit manual transmissions to one engine. Its hardly uncommon. You can't get a stick on the IS350 and never have been able to do so either. MB only offers a stick on the anemic 1.8T. Don't see why Cadillac should do anything different, its not like many are buying manuals in this class anyway. BTW, in spite of the constant media hype about "heavy GM cars" they are only heavy compared to Korean and Japanese cars. They aren't heavy relative to similarly sized American or European cars. Overall, Chrysler has the heaviest cars/SUVs for their respective classes.


Kind of funny how Shet talking about how bad Acura must be to put a V6 in the TSX:

"This makes no sense. Its only going to hurt TL sales in the end. Why not give this car a 3L V6 with better mileage? The TSX is not much smaller inside than the TL and now you can get the same engine in a cheaper, lighter package. Acura must be responding to lackluster sales for the TSX for them to make this type of change."


But is he going to make the same kind of stink (he is full of it) when Cadillac does it?

No. Not that totally biased Shet. What a fraud.

i love this car, but i would perfer a V series of this car. That would be amazing.


If it's not sharing the Regal's platform then what platform is it? The Chevy Cruze/Buick Verano?


This car is rear wheel drive, not fwd.


The tsx was an existing car that never had a v6 and its very close in size to tl. The ats is far smaller than the cts and the next gen cts will be even larger. Ats could steal lower end cts sales if people don't care about rear seat room.


Ps: I realize bellye isn't smart enough to know this but tsx and tl have almost the same mileage because they have 500lbs lighter than the cts and should appeal to people who want fuel efficiency. It should beat cts by 3mpg at least due to weight.


Sheth is amazing...LOL


I realize bellye isn't smart enough to know this but tsx and tl have almost the same mileage because they have 500lbs lighter than the cts and should appeal to people who want fuel efficiency.
-WTF? Does anyone have any idea what this means?

No kidding, Big Biased Shet, the Big BS, is trying to make some excuse as to why its bad for an Acura small car to have a v6 but it will work for Cadillac... only because its GM.

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