2012 NAIAS: 2013 Cadillac ATS designed to take on BMW 3-Series

  • 09-Jan-2012 08:25 EST
Cadillac ATS reveal 8Jan12.jpg

The new ATS features headlamps using a combination of projector and LED technologies, and active grille shutters.

“Seriously competing in this segment is a significant challenge,” said Mark Reuss, General Motors President of North America, just prior to the covers being lifted on three 2013 Cadillac ATS models at the Jan. 8 media unveiling in Detroit as part of the North American International Auto Show.

The ATS is being called Cadillac’s BMW 3-Series fighter; it offers an opportunity to vastly expand the Cadillac brand globally—if its ability to conquer the reigning German compact sport sedans (including Audi’s A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class) is proven true in the marketplace.

The rear-drive, compact (C-segment) sport sedan enters production later this year at GM’s Lansing Grand River assembly plant in southeastern Michigan. It touts a comprehensive list of technologies and feature content, including three direct-injection gasoline engines: a 270-hp (201-kW) turbocharged 2.0-L Ecotec four; a naturally aspirated 2.5-L, which Reuss claimed is capable of achieving more than 30-mpg highway; and a 3.6-L V6 with 320 hp (239 kW).

Power flows through a choice of two six-speed transmissions, including a Tremec M3L TR3160 manual. A diesel option will be available “during the car’s first life cycle,” Reuss said.

The ATS is based on GM’s new global rear-drive body architecture, known internally as Alpha (www.sae.org/mags/aei/10544), that features lightweight construction. The Alpha structure makes its first appearance on ATS. The program team led by Chief Engineer Dave Masch focused intensely on mass attenuation throughout development; engineers told AEI that base curb weight when the car enters production this summer will be approximately 3200 lb (1451 kg). The car’s front/rear weight balance is 51/49%.

Masch’s development engineers used Germany’s famed Nürburgring as one of their main testing circuits.

Front suspension is by MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar. An independent five-link rear suspension is mounted on an isolated tubular-steel subframe. GM’s Magnetic Ride Control, which helps optimize ride quality while keeping the standard 17-in and optional 18-in wheels planted, is optional. Steering is by a ZF rack-mounted electric, power-and-variable assisted system.

The ATS’s standard front foundation brakes use 11.8 x 1.02-in. (300 x 26-mm) vented rotors featuring GM’s proprietary FNC process for corrosion resistance. Standard vented rear rotors measure 12.4 x 0.90-in. (315 x 23-mm). An high performance Brembo brake package is available with 12.6 x 1.18-in. (320 x 30-mm) vented front rotors and 12.4 x 0.90-in (315 x 23-mm) vented rear rotors, also with the FNC treatment.

The ATS measures 182.8 in. (4643 mm) long and rides on a 109.3-in (2776-mm) wheelbase. Front and rear track are 59.5 in/1511 mm front and 60.9 in/1547 mm rear, respectively. U.S. EPA passenger volume is 90.9 ft³ (2574 L).

Active grille shutters close at preset highway speed to reduce aerodynamic drag, for improved fuel efficiency.

Among the car’s safety technology suite is Front and Rear Automatic Brakes. The system uses short-range radar and ultrasonic sensors to help the driver prevent front and rear low-speed collisions via a progression of alerts that extend to complete braking, if necessary.

The ATS is loaded with infotainment technologies, including a reconfigurable head-up display and GM’s new CUE system. CUE (Cadillac User Experience) features the industry’s first capacitive-type touch-screen controls. The system is capable of pairing information and entertainment data from up to 10 Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices with the vehicle infotainment system. It’s designed to reduce complexity and driver distraction with only four buttons.

IHS Automotive analyst Aaron Bragman expects GM to get significant volume from the ATS. “The China market will provide plenty of scale for Alpha,” he told AEI, noting the volume Holy Grail is the BMW’ 3-Series’ 400,000 units per year.

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