By on July 23, 2012

Smaller grille than CTS, but clearly a Cadillac.

Size and weight are a big part of GM’s DNA. They beat Ford not with a frontal assault on the Model T but by offering a larger, heavier, flashier car. They thought they could do the same to BMW. But, even as the Bavarians packed on the inches and pounds, car buyers “in the know” saw the additional size and weight of Cadillacs as a sign that the General either lacked technical competence or just didn’t “get it.” Well, maybe the “new GM” really is different. With the 2013 Cadillac ATS, the company has pulled out all the stops to directly challenge the BMW 3-Series with a rear-wheel-drive car that is—surprise—a few tenths of an inch smaller and a few pounds lighter. Could the people who tried to sell us the Cimmaron have gotten this one right?

Standard 17-inch wheels.

From looking at the ATS, you’d never guess that GM was swinging for the fences, because the exterior designers weren’t. Instead, they were instructed to bunt. The first CTS was a brash yet largely successful attempt by Cadillac to carve out a new visual identity. The second one smoothed off the first’s edges, but its muscular fenders and enlarged grille oozed swagger. Many people loved it, but some also hated it. The ATS’s leaner, less dramatic body sides and trimmer grille are better for aero, packaging efficiency, and not scaring off buyers who want to blend in. The longer you look at it, the better it looks, but such subtly stylish sheet metal won’t sell the ATS all by itself. Instead, it might maximize the number of people willing to check out the rest of the car. This is the opposite of GM’s past practice, where often the hope was that dramatic styling would lure buyers to overlook the rest of the car.

Red interior with real carbon fiber trim.

Crack open the front door, get in, and the ATS’s second impression is a strong one. Nothing crazy here either, but the design and materials are at least as good as others in the segment. No direct competitor has fully upholstered the upper surfaces of the instrument panel and doors. This covering has a tighter, more precise fit than in the CTS. Seven different interiors are offered, and all are attractive, some strikingly so. The large screen for the touch-based “CUE” infotainment system (standard on all but the base trim) has vibrant graphics that combine the visual punch of Ford’s system with the superior usability of Chrysler’s. I noted only one part of the interior that appeared cheap, a faux chrome start button. They’re already planning to change the finish.

Black interior with real aluminum trim.

Look forward over the hood, and the driving position could hardly be better. The instrument panel seems lower and less massive than in a BMW, the A-pillars are downright dainty by current standards, and, in some refreshingly original thinking, the armrests are at different heights to support the left arm while steering and the right arm while shifting. The steering wheel has a smaller diameter than the standard GM tiller, and its rim isn’t overly padded. The front seats could be better. With headrests that adjust fore and aft and side bolsters that, on the top two of the four trim levels, adjust in and out, the right boxes were checked. But even at full-tight the bolsters provide only middling lateral support. They’re undersized and the center of the seatback feels slightly convex instead of concave. As with the exterior styling, GM has avoided driving away any potential buyers (in this case the widest ones). They could have offered more aggressively bolstered seats as a standalone option rather than making these “sport buckets” mandatory on the top two trim levels, but this would have driven up build combinations (more on this later).

Front seat set for 5’9″ driver. Can go back 2-3 more inches.

Jump from the front seat to the back, and if you’re over six feet tall (luckily, I’m not) you’ll wish you hadn’t. Second row leg room isn’t far off that in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Audi A4, but the latest BMW 3-Series has vaulted well ahead of the field in this area. Multiple ATS team members confided that they hadn’t foreseen the 3er getting so much bigger than their car. When I pointed out that the F30 is only three-tenths of an inch longer than the ATS, 182.5 vs. 182.2, and so still far from CTS territory (191.6), one of them noted that overall length isn’t the best indicator, as the small Cadillac has pointier ends. The BMW’s wheelbase is significantly longer, 110.6 vs. 109.3, and the additional inch-plus seems to have gone entirely into rear seat knee room.

Intrusive suspension and goose neck hinges.

But rear seat room isn’t the ATS’s largest weakness. The Cadillac’s trunk volume barely tops ten cubic feet. This is a fair distance short of the previous-generation 3’s twelve (matched by the C-Class and A4), and far less than the new one’s seventeen. What happened? Judging from the intrusiveness of the rear suspension, GM might have given ride and handling much higher priorities than cargo volume when making tradeoffs.

Note holes punched to save weight.

Actually, there’s no question that handling was the team’s top priority. They wanted to beat the 3-Series in direct competition, by being better at what it does best, and the BMW hasn’t dominated the segment for three decades by having the biggest trunk. The ATS team designed every excess gram out of its body structure and employed significant amounts of high-strength steel, aluminum, and even magnesium to get the curb weight to 3,315 pounds with the 201-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine, 3,373 with the 272-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four, and 3,461 with the 321-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. A CTS with the same V6 weighs nearly a quarter-ton more. A 240-horsepower BMW 328i automatic weighs 3,410 pounds, a 300-horsepower 335i weighs 3,555. The ATS team is rightly proud of this win. Beyond curb weight, the team fitted a BMW-like double-pivot front suspension, developed Cadillac’s first five-link rear suspension (a mere 30 years after the pioneering W201 Benz), optimized the angles of all of the beautiful alloy suspension links, and forward rack-mounted an electric power steering (EPS) unit by ZF (which also supplies Audi and BMW). They then called on the same people who made the heavyweight CTS-V dance to fine tune the half-ton-lighter new car.

Lots of aluminum.

Jump back into the front seat to evaluate their work, and you’ll find a very balanced, highly precise, fairly agile, and altogether pleasant-handling car. Damping seems much better than in the latest, looser 3-Series even without the FE3 suspension’s magnetic ride control shocks, and especially with them. With rear-wheel-drive and a limited-slip rear differential (included with the FE3 suspension or the manual transmission with either suspension), the rear end can be rotated progressively with the throttle much like in the CTS. (As in the larger car it helps to switch the stability control out of its slightly too conservative default mode.) The front brakes are strong Brembos with all but the base trim 2.5. This is an easy car to drive quickly along a curvy road.

What you won’t find, due to a combination of EPS and a desire to appeal to mainstream luxury car buyers, is steering that communicates every nuance of what is going on where the rubber meets the road. I suspect they’re withholding this for a future V. Even as it stands, the Cadillac’s moderately light steering feels at least as good as that in the Audi or BMW, much less the hopelessly numb Mercedes. It’s a precision instrument, just not an overtly engaging one.

Five links.

On the streets of north Georgia, the ATS rode well, even with the firmer FE3 suspension. Aiming for the largest road imperfections, I failed to elicit a harsh reaction. But the largest road imperfections in north Georgia aren’t very large. A more thorough ride evaluation must await a week-long test in Michigan. Noise levels aren’t the lowest, but they are fairly low, partly due to active noise reduction (via the speakers). As in many cars, rough concrete poses the toughest challenge.

It’s tempting to write off the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (a new generation Ecotec) as suited only for people who care nothing for performance. But, facing the lowest expectations, it actually performs well enough in the ATS that in the north Georgia hills I didn’t find myself wishing for one of the others. Refinement is also very good for a four—and better than with the turbo 2.0-liter (also new, not the same engine found in the Buick Regal GS).

The boosted engine definitely feels stronger, but not to the extent suggested by the specs or the stopwatch (5.7 vs. 7.5 seconds to 60), and it sounds buzzier when revved. It’s not the sort of racket produced by earlier GM fours, just a soundtrack more suited to basic transportation. A car that performs as well and costs as much as the ATS deserves a less pedestrian-sounding engine. The V6 feels stronger still when revved (GM claims 5.4 seconds to 60, and it makes a larger difference over 60), but it lacks the midrange punch of the boosted sixes in the Audi S4 and BMW 335i. The V6 has a much throatier sound than the fours, but also could sound more like well-tuned high performance machinery (the heretofore unmentioned Lexus IS gets a win in this area). All three engines are passable, but none stands out the way the chassis does. If you want the well-executed manual transmission, then your decision among the three engines is made for you. The base four and V6 are auto-only.

Set well back, for 50-50 weight distribution with manual transmission.

EPA ratings with the three engines, automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive are 22/33, 22/32, and 19/28, respectively. The fours are close to the admirable figures achieved by the latest BMW, the V6 not so much. GM notes that the ZF transmission in the BMW has two more ratios, for a total of eight, but there’s more to the story than this. The far heavier CTS tests nearly as well, 18/27. Reasonably precise real world figures will require more time in the car. Hustling a 2.0T ATS with all-wheel-drive through the hills, I observed low twenties on the trip computer. In straight highway in an all-wheel-drive V6, I observed 26. While the automatic transmission functions well in performance driving, it needs more ratios to deliver class-leading fuel economy.

At Atlanta Motorsports Park.

So, how much are those upholstered interior panels, fancy suspension bits, and pricey alloys going to set you back? The Cadillac ATS starts at $33,990. Add $1,805 for the turbo (available with all four trim levels), but deduct $1,180 for the manual transmission. Add $2,000 for all-wheel drive, which can’t be paired with the manual transmission or the base engine. For leather, you choice of interior trims (wood, aluminum, carbon fiber), a folding rear seat, CUE (optional on the base trim), additional amenities, and the option of adding the V6 for another $1,800 on top of the turbo four, step up to the $38,485 “Luxury” trim. For the sport buckets, xenon headlights, and shift paddles, you must opt for the $42,790 “Performance” trim. This price also includes the formerly optional turbo four, Bose surround sound, and a basic safety package. The last includes forward collision alert and a lane departure warning that vibrates the seat instead of beeping—much less annoying. But the folding rear seat is lost. To regain the folding rear seat, and add magnetic ride control shocks, quicker steering, firmer FE3 tuning, and a head-up display, you must get the $45,790 “Premium” trim (deduct $1,475 for the manual). This price also includes 18-inch wheels and navigation, both optional on the mid-level trims. Put another way, to get the best-handling ATS you must also get the most expensive ATS.

Sound like BMW territory? Close, but not quite. A 2012 328i starts nearly even with the 2.0T ATS, $35,795, but includes less standard equipment. Equip the BMW to the same level, and it lists for $2,545 more than the Cadillac. But adjust for remaining feature differences using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, and the Cadillac’s advantage is a mere $1,290. Load both cars up, and this advantage becomes more substantial, with a sticker of $47,440 vs. the BMW’s $52,310 (for a difference of $4,870). The adjustment for feature differences is negligible. Other competitors cost less than the BMW. The Infiniti G37 remains the segment’s bargain play.

Tan interior with real wood trim.

Overall, the Cadillac isn’t priced low enough to sell based on price alone, but isn’t priced so high that even those who prefer it will opt for the much more established BMW…unless you happen to require the most athletic suspension, and little else. In this case, the BMW lists for over $5,000 less with a manual transmission, and over $6,500 less with an automatic. Yes, the Cadillac includes about $7,000 in mandatory additional features, but some enthusiasts won’t want them.

I pressed a number of ATS team members about this inflexible packaging. Their response was that they had to keep the build combinations very low, 915 to be precise. GM feels that matching the BMW’s 1.2 million build combinations would substantially drive up costs and harm quality. I believe that they believe this, but I’m nevertheless skeptical. How does it significantly help cost or quality to always install nav when you install the FE3 suspension? I don’t doubt that reducing manufacturing complexity helps, but I don’t think all additional build combinations are equally harmful (as assumed by GM math).

Another rationale makes more sense. One team member said that they’re undercharging for the adaptive shocks and other FE3 bits. Since these are deleted when AWD is added, some easy math yields a $900 price. This is cheap. To make this low price financially viable, they must force you into a heavily optioned (and so more profitable) car to get it. Personally, I’d much rather see the FE3 suspension available on lesser trims, even if it then had to cost more. Until then, I’d advise people uninterested in all of the Premium’s features (or at least uninterested in paying $45,000+) to settle for an FE2 car. I drove the two suspensions along the same road, and while the FE3 car handles better the difference is far from night and day. The character of the car remains the same.

Aside from rear seat room, trunk capacity, and option packaging, the Cadillac ATS approaches, meets, or beats the 3-Series in every area. The car’s curb weight might be only a little lower than the BMW’s, but even this represents a seismic change for GM. A large number of details done right suggests a well-functioning team that intensively studied the market. Interior styling and handling are clear strengths. I had hoped for a more visceral driving experience, but luxury car manufacturers typically reserve such an experience for special performance variants with stratospheric price tags. If I had to choose from among the cars that are actually available in the segment, this would be the one.

Cadillac provided the tested cars, fuel, insurance, airfare to Atlanta, one night in a nice hotel , very good food, and five laps around Atlanta Motorsports Park (two of them with a driver far more skilled than I am).

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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231 Comments on “Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS...”


  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    I wonder if they will try to sell this Caddy in Europe. Every now and then GM will say they have a luxury car to take on the Germans, and bring it across the Atlantic. Only to be ignored.

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      No diesel, no wagon -> no sale in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Supposedly will get a diesel powerplant for Europe, but no wagon until the 2G ATS since GM wants to see how sales go in Europe.

        May, however, see a compact CUV based on the ATS platform that would be perfect for the European market.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      How will depreciation affect the 5-year total cost of the Caddy vs a similarly equipped 3 Series? I’m guessing that depreciation loss would make up for the higher initial BMW purchase price with a higher residual value.

      Your thoughts?

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        A new model if it’s good/very good won’t necessarily see the same depreciation loss for older models from the same brand (for instance, ALG gives the Kia Optima 4 stars for residual value, the same as for the Camcord).

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      Of course they will. Here’s the link:

      http://www.cadillaceurope.com/ats/en/index.php

      After all, they sell the CTS in Europe, and it’s never had a diesel.

      That’s not to say there will never be a diesel in the Euro-ATS. Just not at launch.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And how many CTS do they actually sell in Europe? I don’t know why they bother. As Mirko already noted, if you don’t have a diesel wagon, you are just pretending. See also Lexus and Infinity sales in Europe.

        Looks like a decent effort on GMs part, bravo for them. Without a wagon I won’t even look at it though.

      • 0 avatar
        Mirko Reinhardt

        @krhodes1
        In Germany, Cadillac sold 35 CTS in the fist half of 2012. In June, they sold ONE CTS.
        Total sales for the Cadillac brand was 11. (One CTS, ten Escalades)

    • 0 avatar
      another_pleb

      I saw a BLS today. I thought it looked alright.

      Would I buy one? No.

      This new one looks good though.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      The question is will they TRY to sell this Caddy in Europe. From the presence of the ATS on the Cadillac Europe website, yes, they will try.

      Whether they’ll SUCCEED is another question entirely.

      Judging from the CTS sales Mirko provided, they have quite the uphill battle.

      But so does every other automaker in Europe at the moment.

    • 0 avatar
      bufguy

      My God…All the hate…TTAC is seriously critical in their evaluations and they found a good car with some shortcomings..All cars in this segment have shortcomings…Base engine in A4, the VW GTI engine. Infiniti G37…horsepower ratings that don’t equate to performance, (a BMW with 70 less advertised hp is as quick)…Lexus IS…need I say anything?
      All this discussion on rearseat room? Does anyone in this segment carry anyone in the backseat more than a few times a year?

      Cadillac’s biggest hurdle is going to be getting people in the showroom. If they do, they may just sell a decent amount of them.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Honestly, bufguy, I have not seen hate in this discussion anywhere, or it would not have run to 160+ comments. I have seen good comments, frankly offered, often with decent documentation and references. Part of what you may be interpreting as hate may be just cynicism or suspicion of Caddy’s abilities, given their past history. And, in my view, that is quite understandable.

        But I agree with you on the show room thing: if Americans can drive the cars, they will buy the cars. Not everyone does cross-shopping, and many folks have a patriotic pro-GM bias, especially in the Midwest. So, I would expect the ATS to sell reasonably, but not overtake the 3-series or C-class here (stateside).

        ————–

      • 0 avatar
        oboylepr

        Some folks are far to quick to throw the “hate” word around.

        “I don’t like the colour”. “Oh you just hate the CTS, you hate Cadillac, you hate GM, you hate Detroit, you hate America, Obama” etc. etc. Okay but I still don’t like the colour!

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I agree with NMGOM, that there has been for 150+ comments a civilized discussion with sharing of data, reference and opinions. Which is as it should be. It helps that the few usual suspects have largely not commented – maybe that in itself says something about the ATS!

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      If I KNOW GM, and I don’t, I’d guess that they’ll price the car right out of the market as they successfully done with the Corvette (911 territory). GM seems unable to comprehend that the price you ask for a car must be what the consumer is willing to pay for it and not what you think they should want to pay based on where you hope to take the brand. If somebody would be nice enough to explain to the average american auto exec that Europeans are quite keen on interior fit and finish (as opposed to Americans that seems focused on robust drive trains) they might be able to get some traction with European buyers if the car where priced reasonably.

      • 0 avatar
        TireIrony

        “I’d guess that they’ll price the car right out of the market as they successfuly done with the Corvette (911 territory).”

        Corvette starts at $49,600.
        Porsche 911 starts at $82,100.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    Very descriptive and informative review as always, Michael. I am considering getting an F30 LCI 3er or F80 M3 in a couple of years, so I certainly read it from a prospective buyer’s viewpoint. Scratch that, being a BMW fanboy and GM anti-fanboy (after growing up with their products from the 80s, finding enticing exteriors undermined by PlaySkool interiors well into the 00s, hearing all sorts of mechanical whining in various parking lots, etc), I started the review with the intention of pissing all over another half-baked GM effort to take on a standard-bearer with nothing more substantial than cash on the hood. It would seem that Cadillac got this one a lot more right than wrong, however.

    Engine character and packaging, and perhaps even fuel economy, could use some improvement yes, but the biggest challenge seems to be interior quality, or more specifically, perceived interior luxury. Based on these pictures, the center stack, steering wheel (what’s the thickness, btw?) and door trim, and overall interior design are not up to the standards of BMW or Audi. I will commend them on the two-tone execution of the interior (black carpet, lower trim, and seat backs) – BMW does this well with some interior colors but not others. Points deducted for the maroon interior however, as it gives me flashbacks of riding in the back of numerous behemoths from the 70s as a kid, windows up and no A/C in sweltering LA.

    The overall exterior design is not as well executed in the details as BMW (given that several creases dead end abruptly) nor as sublime as Audi (not much is), but it is exciting and approachable. The standard wheels paired with the dark gray paint do nothing aesthetically speaking, but the silver with the upsized wheels is quite comely, more so than the CTS I would say.

    I don’t think that I could live with the interior nor overall packaging but perhaps the ride could convince me to do so. If I do somehow end up with an ATS in 2015, that will be a significant conquest sale for Caddy and hopefully portend of great things to come.

    Is there a wagon version coming (only half joking)?

    • 0 avatar

      When asked whether there would be a wagon, the Vehicle Line Executive said that one isn’t likely, as GM no longer spends money on products that aren’t likely to be profitable.

      The steering wheel isn’t very thick. I personally don’t care for a thick rim, and found this one nearly ideal, but some people will wish it was thicker.

      • 0 avatar
        multicam

        Must… fight… Lame joke urge… That’s what she said.
        Sorry, now that that’s out of the way, those who would like a thicker wheel could put one of those covers on, no? That’s what I did. I figure if you err on the side of too thin it can always be fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      “The overall exterior design is not as well executed in the details as BMW.”

      Thank God for that.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Agreed – longtime BMW driver, but recent BMW designs have been worse than the Bangle years.

        The front fascia of the new 3 is atrocious (never mind the 7 Series or 1 Series hatch).

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The interiors of the 3 Series have never been worthy of an ‘entry-level’ luxury sedan until the most recent iteration (same goes for the C Class until the refresh job on the current C Class).

      And let’s not forget the interior of the 1G X3 which was downright embarrassing.

      I find it a bit amusing that people can make conclusions about the quality of the interior of the ATS when they likely haven’t even sat in one.

      There have been more than a couple reviews which have stated that the ATS has the best interior in the segment next to the Audi A4.

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      To me it looks far better than any BMW of recent years inside, and on par with or better than the current 3-Series. I just call it as I see – I’ve never driven one. But I do think it’s unfair to imply the interior is worse than a 3-Series.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Looks like a winner. Though the rear seat bottom looks too short, I guess to give the appearance of lots of legroom. But no one buys a car like this (ATS, Mercedes C-class, BMW 3-series) for rear seat legrooms anyway. The tan interior looks delicious.

    Any news whether this is going to be sold worldwide? BMW 3-series and the Merc C-classes had their volume because it’s sold just about everywhere, not just the US and Europe.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re definitely planning to sell the car in China–this is one reason for the relatively demure exterior. I also find it hard to believe they wouldn’t give it a go in Europe, as the size is finally right. They should be able to come up with a suitable diesel engine. RHD doesn’t seem likely, though. Did they ever convert the CTS?

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        I’m willing to bet that this will be outsold at least 10:1 by the A4, 3 series, C class and maybe even the S60 in Europe. I’m, Guesstemating a staring price of €35k ex taxes (same price including taxes is still a hell of a stretch), leaving BMW and Audi laughing with profitable joy.

      • 0 avatar
        Mirko Reinhardt

        @MeaCulpa
        For Germany: If they sold 10% of the 3-series (3-series: 7052 sales in June), that would put them in the 700-cars-per-month league, which would be in the bottom 10 of the top 100.

        10% of the S60 (965 in June, S60/V60 combined, I guess 90% or more are V60) would still be about 1000% of what the Cadillac brand sells right now.

        ( http://www.autohaus.de/sixcms/media.php/2141/Top100Modellreihen_6_2012.pdf ) <- top 100 best selling cars in Germany, June)

        I don't think they even have a remote chance to achieve that. The whole Jeep brand sells less than 700 cars/month, and ALL their models have diesels. Cadillac? None.

      • 0 avatar

        @Mirko: Hardly. GM imports to all of Europe from the U.S., June 2012, as per ACEA (http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/europe-half-year-review-bad-news-for-french-italians-ford-and-gm/) : 15

      • 0 avatar
        Mirko Reinhardt

        @Bertel
        Assuming those are all Cadillacs and they don’t lump Camaros and Corvettes in there: Wow! 15 for all of Europe? We know 10 of the 15 are Escalades sold in Germany, 1 of the 15 is a CTS sold in Germany.

        Not even you could come up with a strategy to sell Cadillacs in Europe, right?

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        @Miko
        10% was pan European best, realistically I could say 20:1, or 50:1 pan Europe.

        I would think that most american GM cars are sold as grey market imports, the corvette is basically 30-40% less as a grey market car.
        Cadillac is in a hard spot with their brand in Europe, the core customers doesn’t want a sporty or “modern” car, if they did they would just walk to the BMW/VAG/DB dealer, on the other hand most people doesn’t want a barge. A s**t load of European motorsports could change the perception of the brand, but I seriously doubt that GM is all that keen on spending dollars infringing on Corvette prestige and in any case it would have to be a loooong term investment, Audi Quattro rallying long term. I don’t see Europe – in a shaky financial state – contributing large volumes of sales for Caddy in the foreseeable future.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i doubt RHD figures in their grand plan

    i like it, i like their dedication to a design goal… it didn’t get diluted too much

    i like the manual tranny too

    however… it has the same problem as the C class and the BMW 3… its just too small for four six foot guys… its not like i transport three guys all the time but I felt way too cramped in this class of car

    coupe might work

    • 0 avatar
      OliverTwist

      Cadillac has right-hand-drive CTS on sale in the United Kingdom.

      The second-hand CTS, SRX, and STS in right-hand-drive version listed in Auto Trader UK:

      http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201227477859027/sort/default/usedcars/make/cadillac/onesearchad/used/onesearchad/nearlynew/onesearchad/new/page/1/radius/1500/postcode/se17jb?logcode=p

      http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201215463568430/sort/default/usedcars/make/cadillac/onesearchad/used/onesearchad/nearlynew/onesearchad/new/radius/1500/postcode/se17jb/page/3?logcode=p

      http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201226476605067/sort/default/usedcars/make/cadillac/onesearchad/used/onesearchad/nearlynew/onesearchad/new/radius/1500/postcode/se17jb/page/4?logcode=p

      GM has confirmed the RHD version of ATS:

      http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1071924_cadillac-to-expand-overseas-with-more-right-hand-drive-models

      http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/cadillac/20116/cadillac-returns-uk

  • avatar
    dwford

    Isn’t this the Alpha chassis that Cadillac commandeered and supposedly ruined with excess weight and complexity? I guess they figured it out after all…

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    “…with the 201-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine…”

    Way to kill Cadillac’s reason to exist, geniuses of the PowerPoint at the RenCen. Way to murder whatever little virtue and differentiation remained in the Cadillac brand.

    Who’s up for an intra-company cannibalizing Buick Regal 2.0T, which looks better, probably drives better, and is more Teutonic in every way than this large-on-the-outside but small-on-the-inside answer to a question no one is asking of Cadillac?

    F*ck you Cadillac, and your 4-banger competitor, the BMW 3 Series, too (where 4 bangers have replaced the silky inline 6, and for good measure, the Bayerische Motoren Werke dummköpfe completed their mechanical ‘ugrade’ of the 3 with disjointed, numb steering, to boot – great job guys- really- at murdering the 3 series, or that which was a legend).

    I can hardly wait for the Porsche Jalapeno, Porsche’s answer to the Honda Odyssey.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I can understand your disgust at having a 4 cylinder as the base engine. Power wise though it is comparable to the base IS, G, A4 and C class.

      I had read before that there was to be a wagon version and it would be sold in Europe. Maybe more details at Frankfurt.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        It’s not the power that’s the problem in this, or any other, vehicle that purports to be that which it isn’t.

        It’s the fact that no matter how advanced motor technology is claimed to be by various internet experts in all things engineering and physics, power does not equal balance and refinement, and that no matter how much underhood insulation, cabin sound deadening, active noise cancellation technology, counter-balancing doo-dads, etc., a 4 banger is not capable of delivering the smooth and refined power delivery of a 6 cylinder.

        Furthermore, as the fuel economy figures indicate, many larger displacement motors with more cylinders obtain the same or better fuel economy, while delivering that more smooth and refined power that is befitting anything purporting to be a near luxury vehicle.

        I know some will say that “this is just the way things are trending,” and they are actually correct, but that doesn’t mean that automakers aren’t shooting themselves in the kneecaps, even in some (or many) can’t see it right now, by destroying the attributes people who can afford these vehicles have come to associate with these vehicles.

        Exterior design, interior fit, and all the electronic gadgets in the world will not change the fact that Cadillac is stooping to the galactically idiotic missteps of BMW in destroying the 3 series by abandoning its glorious inline 6 and gumming up its steering feel.

        Hell, Chrysler’s 300 gets a far smoother V6 in its base version that obtains better fuel economy, develops far more power, has loads more front seat, rear seat and trunk space, and looks better than this Cadillac 4 banger, and does it for less money.

        It’s just a sad, sad trend to see so many car makers swap out their 6 cylinders for 4 cylinders with no appreciable benefits, and a lot of worse attributes; the BMW 3 Series is a prime example of this lunatic trend.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        DW – I agree with your comments. But one factual correction the Dodge Charger/Chrysler 300 base V6 gets 19/31 whereas the base ATS engine is 22/33. I agree the Pentastar gets great fuel economy, helped by the 8 speed transmission (6 speed base model gets 18/27). So comparing 6 speed to 6 speed the base ATS (with a lot less power) is more fuel efficient by 4/6mpg (around 20%). I would not be surprised if the ATS during it’s life gets an 8 speed transmission or better/different engines. These are things that can be relatively easily fixed, compared to small rear or trunk space which are fixed.

        It will be interesting to see what the new CTS next year starts with, I would hope the V6, so that will at least be better than the 5 series in that respect (which starts with a turbo 4).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I couldn’t agree more DW, the inmates are running the asylum at BMW and over at RenCen if they think 4 banger is the way to go.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I hate to break it to you folks, but from the beginning, four-cylinder engines have been typical of the near-luxury sports sedan class. Have you already forgotten the 2002 and the 318i?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Excellent point, I had forgotten the 318 and 2002.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Typical of the 2002 50 years ago has what exactly to do with $40,000 expectations today?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Typical of the 2002 50 years ago has what exactly to do with $40,000 expectations today?”

        The base engines in the US-market Mercedes C250 and Audi A4 are turbo fours. Four-cylinder motors remain commonplace for this class of car, even if some of you don’t realize it.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Cadillac used to be, without Irony, called ‘The American Rolls-Royce.’

      Now Cadillac struggles (and somewhat succeeds at) attempting to compete with a mid-level German aspirational brand.

      Oh how the mighty have fallen.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        ‘The American Rolls-Royce.’ WITHOUT Irony? That calls for a ROFL.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Well, it appears they have come closer than automotive giants such as Daimler and VW/Audi, Toyota/Lexus and Nissan/Renault/Infiniti.

        And with the greenlit Omega flagship, Cadillac may very well give the new S Class a run for its $$.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        That was back in Oldsmobile’s glory days, when the Oldsmobile Silhouette, circa-1995, was commonly thought of as “the Cadillac of minivans.”

        http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xhqurb_the-cadillac-of-minivans_shortfilms

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Thing is though, they might be able to get away with a good small V6 in the flyover states where a domestic car is a viable proposition. But if they’re going to have the slightest chance of winning over import buyers, they need the four, or we won’t ve able to hear over the deafening idiocy about how “GM doesn’t get it” or how “they won’t build a good small car.” They’re just not in the position to do things that differently. Besides, as you admitted, the trend is going that way. So GM just has to make the most refined four cylinder to not kill what remaining brand image they have left (not that it has much brand image with the buyers they want).

      That said, if it’s that much of a problem for you, go buy a V6 ATS, if you know anyone buying an ATS, encourage them to spring for the big engine. Money talks louder than internet chatter, right?

      • 0 avatar
        Josh McCullough

        “Flyover states” make up about 60% of the lower 48. They also happen to be Cadillac’s primary market.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Hey, believe me, it’s not meant to be a criticism – just that there are certain parts of the country where Cadillac is not a viable contender, and for any number of reasons, they want to field a car to compete with the 3-Series (as it is a viable proposition in many areas). When the ATS starts within two grand of the CTS, it’s theoretically irrelevant, but it’s hard to ignore that all the imports field relatively successful small sedans.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The Regal is a fundamentally front-wheel-drive car, that ALONE is a huge differentiator vs. the ATS.

      Six cylinders in 3-series are a largely American phenomenon. In the rest of the world, the 3-series are predominantly 4 cylinder cars, and always have been. If you want a six, suck it up and get a 335i.

      I was perfectly happy with the 2.0L Turbo four in my Saab 9-3, and I am sure I would be equally happy with the 2.0L Turbo four in one of these or a current 328i. I would certainly miss the sound of the 3.0L six in my ’11 328i, but not at the gas pump. As usual, poor Saab was ahead of thier time.

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    Been waiting for this review since I saw the first spy shots. The low cowl, thin pillars (at least up front), and presumably good manual shifter suggest GM took this car seriously.

    And Cadillac sure scored an unexpected win with the 3-Series abdicating some of its sporting cred. Suddenly the standards of the class drop a notch, and ‘almost as good as an E90′ becomes ‘top of the class.’

  • avatar
    Good ole dayz

    Judging by the photos, rear visibility from the drivers seat is almost non-existent. Beyond being an annoyance while driving, I’d consider that a major safety issue (I’ve no faith in, nor wish to rely upon, electronic sensors to vibrate my seat, thank you very much — a quick glance at the mirrors BEFORE executing a lane change, rather than awaiting electronics to alert you after you’ve commenced, is immeasurably safer).

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Bad rear and all around visibility seems to be a a current design theme that needs to fade away. I much prefer a “box” design for any type of vehicle.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    Thanks, Michael for a thorough and thoughtful review. The ATS seems like a good car, but well short of a great car, let down by mediocre visibility, a tiny trunk, and poor rear seat accomodations. So it seems to be a 2+2, not a four-passenger sedan. As ever GM’s options and configurations are puzzling. Why not AWD, FE3 and magnetic ride control shocks, for example? That’s the combination I’d want. As ever, GM chose form over function. Cruze, Verano, ATS. Nice try. No cigar.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Some of the issues can be fixed easily and quickly – like the option packages. I am sure for the 2014 model year they could change substantially (just like the 2013 Focus has way different spec levels and options than the 2012). The trunk and rear seat space are obvious fixed now until the model is replaced in say 2020. Trunk space may not be a huge deal to most people since I don`t usually see a sedan trunk packed full and being 2 cu ft smaller than the A4 and others isn’t major (others may disagree).

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      As Michael says, the back seat is roughly the same as the previous generation 3-series, and the current A4/S4 and C-class. Do you consider those ones 2+2s as well?

      And the visibility issue is the bane of modern cars, thanks to the current styling trends. ATS is far from the worst offender here.

      I think Cadillac has built a worthy contender here. Each car in this class has its pros and cons, and different people will prefer one or another, but there is nothing to be embarrassed about with the ATS.

      • 0 avatar
        SLLTTAC

        Having spent two hours in the back seat of a coworker’s 2007 BMW328 four-door sedan, I concluded that it’s a tight squeeze and none too comfortable for my 5’8″ 190 pound frame. The Audi A4/S4 and the Mercedes C-class are just as confining. It’s one thing to drive a sedan around a track, which I’ve done many times, and another to live with it, day in and day out. That’s what’s so disappointing with the ATS. How could four adults with luggage travel in that car? The ATS and its siblings seem to be so inefficient with space. Surely it’s possible for a car to be fun to drive and useful for four average-sized adults. For that matter, my wife would have a tough time putting groceries in that small trunk. I’ll will buy a new fun-to-drive sedan next Spring, but not the ATS.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        A tight squeeze at the rear would be the Lexus IS.

        If more interior room is really impt. – then people are free to get the larger CTS, the Infiniti G or one of the FWD entry level sedans which offer more room at a lower price (such as the Acura TSX). Heck, if it’s really that impt. get the XTS.

        People were complaining when the current 5 Series got bigger with more rear leg room, and hence, less athletic/agile; and now people are complaining about the ATS not being big enough?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        How often do four full-size people travel together in this class of car? I would say about never. These are the cars of the young executive. Or a middle-aged, single car enthusiast like me. At MOST they have a kid or two, but they probably have some sort of Mommy-SUV for that duty. If you actually need to haul four six footers around, get a CTS or a 5-series. Or better yet, a minivan. Anyone who complains about the accomodations in the back of my car is welcome to arrange thier own transportation. Not my problem, *I* don’t have to sit back there.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m 6′ 5″ and of wide frame, and I prefer smaller cars, I have friends of similar heights and never is there a problem with figuring out how to all get in the car. It may be cramped, but it works. But that may happen twice a year, where I choose to drive to the lake or entertainment venue. If someone truly expected to get 4 adults comfortably in a car in this size class they have no business buying a car.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    GM-Zeta inspired suspension. Michael, the “double pivot” and the 5 link array in the back is already present in the G8/VE Commodore, and although you compare with the Germans, this configuration has been within GM for some years already. The CTS uses double wishbones in the front and something a little different than the Commodore in the back. The Aussies used struts and the Americans spring and a damper. I leave the discussion of the merits of each configuration to the experts.

    Beautiful car. I’ve seen a current CTS recently and the thing looks expensive, the tailamps look relatively high tech. Nice. Off topic, also saw a Q3 in traffic today, awesome headlamps.

    Thanks for the mechanical bits pictures.

    • 0 avatar

      The G8 had a similar front suspension, just with less aluminum, but it was inspired by BMW, not a GM innovation.

      The G8 had a four-link rear suspension.

      http://blogs.insideline.com/roadtests/2009/05/2008-pontiac-g8-gt-suspension-walkaround.html

  • avatar
    Gannet

    Very nicely done, Michael.

    It all looks and sounds very good…until you get to what is behind and below the C-pillar. The top brakelight/spoiler is just weird-looking. The beltline is too high, and too angled, and hence the windows are too small. Again. Still. Argh!

    What I really want is the technology of a new car with the styling of the 90s, smooth and clean. Pound sand, they explained.

    Still, I may have to put this one on the short list.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      I just can’t get past the backside of these cars. The C-pillars are massive and the trunk is too high. Looks wise, this isn’t an ugly car, but it is much worse looking than the new 3, the C or especially the A4. Even the IS is more attractive (but too small), and Lexus hasn’t done diddly to it in many years. Even the Buick is better looking.

      If this came in much cheaper, it might be a reasonable option. But at the same price, I think this will struggle. GM will need to put some cash on the hood.

      As an E90 owner, I echo the benefits of the straight six. BMW keeps wanting to buy my car and trade me “up” to the turbo 4. No thanks. The mileage penalty isn’t that high. I don’t know why they didn’t drop the displacement on the straight six if they needed to bump the mileage.

      • 0 avatar
        benzaholic

        The switch from six cylinder to four is not just for fuel economy.
        Emissions, especially during traditionally dirty warmup, are easier to control with less thermal mass.

      • 0 avatar
        Grahambo

        As you already seem to know, do NOT made that trade. The E90 was/is a great, tight steering and handling car. The F30 — at least the two (non-Sport lines) I have driven — has well and truly lost the magic, even when on the Sport setting. Some say that the right options (Sport line obviously, the variable steering) can get it “closer” to the E90, but that is not clear to me. I’m sure Sport would make a positive difference, but I just can’t see it bridging the gap. Even a bog standard 2006 325i non-sport felt great and worlds better than the F30, IMHO. I was hoping that the ATS would fill that void but sounds like the steering on this is lacking as well. Not sure if anything in this class has decent steering or a somewhat visceral feel any more.

  • avatar

    WOW Mike… you got to that one faster than I expected!

    I’m not a Cadillac lover anymore, but when I have this car this week I only have one question on my mind:

    I already, in the back of my mind have an idea how the materials will feel based on my experience in the XTS. I already have an idea how fast it will be. I already know CUE by memory.

    The one question I must answer is will I fit in it like I fit in the Buick Verano?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Don’t let the mammoth, grotesque exterior dimensions fool you (hey Cadillac, you might as well have put fins on the rear).

      You’ll Cruze in the ATS just fine.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m really glad to see Cadillac adopting the “same sausage – different length” mentality. I’m sure anyone who likes small cars and can afford a Buick Verano will go for this as the upgrade.

      Can’t wait for the “V-Series”.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The Verano is bigger from the specs – 95 cuft compared to 91 for the ATS. I was surprised by how small the ATS is compared to the BMW when looking at interior volume, the main difference seems to be head room and that inch of rear leg room.

      • 0 avatar

        I guess the Verano is bigger inside because it is FWD instead of RWD. I did fit in the CTS-V Coupe. Maybe I’ll be surprised by the ATS?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        And that’s just pathetically sad, especially since the Verano is a Cruze by another name.

        It’s just incredible that anyone who understands the basic concept of brand dilution and who doesn’t believe that less equals more can’t possibly disagree that this ATS is an answer to a question that no one asked of Cadillac, and that it can only serve to hurt Cadillac’s core image.

        GM is back to its Cimarron days. Some will scream “[N]o way man! The Cimarron was an awful car based on an awful Chevrolet dressed in leather!,” and they’d be correct, but even if this ATS is a better car than the Cimarron, so too is the Chevy Cruze a far better car than the Cavalier upon which the Cimarron was based.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        The ATS is not based on the Cruze (so your Cimarron analogy is wrong). It is RWD, the Cruze is not.

        How is the ATS brand dilution when every other luxury brand has an entry in this market – TSX, IS, G, C class, A4, 3 series etc. You might call the A1, 1 series or A/B class brand dilution but hardly the ATS. Unless you think the brand had a future as being V8 powered luxury barges.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Unless you think the brand had a future as being V8 powered luxury barges.”

        I certainly don’t think it has a serious future as a faux sport German-wannabe brand either. One thing about being a brand of luxo-barges is at least it was authentic and reflected the brand’s heritage for better or worse. Buick playing wannabe Lexus I thought was wise because Buick had no real identity, and was able to find one. But Cadillac is supposed to symbolize the best, and should strike out on its own to… I dunno… innovate. Build something like the Ciel or Sixteen concepts, both were very different than what’s being offered on the market today, and I would see them as being genuine and real attempts at excellence. Until recently I’ve always considered myself biased (in a positive way) toward GM. But the only way I would lease/purchase said ‘Cadillacs’ of today over BMW/Mercedes/Audi would be if Cadillac severely undercut them in price with rebates or other cash-on-the-hood. If its four cylinder ATS vs four cylinder 325 at roughly the same price point (+/- 2K), 325 is going to win all day long in my book.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        28 cars later – I certainly agree a Ciel type vehicle should be built. I am assuming the reason for the ATS is to build volume and profitability. For better or worse it seems Cadillac (and GM) are trying to fill in the market gaps where they can potentially make money. It is too late for Cadillac to compete with Rolls-Royce and others.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “GM is back to its Cimarron days. Some will scream “[N]o way man! The Cimarron was an awful car based on an awful Chevrolet dressed in leather!,” and they’d be correct, but even if this ATS is a better car than the Cimarron, so too is the Chevy Cruze a far better car than the Cavalier upon which the Cimarron was based.”

      The ATS is a RWD (with optional AWD) sedan that doesn’t share a platform with any Chevrolet product. Read up more on the Alpha platform. I don’t care much for GM cars but calling the ATS a rebadged Cruze is completely false.

      • 0 avatar
        slance66

        I think this is right. I wouldn’t buy one, but hell, BMW offers a 1 series and that hasn’t hurt the image.

        For my money though, if I want a small-ish car with a 4, I want FWD. If economy and frugality are your selling points, go all the way. RWD cars with base 4 cylinders are illogical. Why pair a heavy and expensive platform with a N/A 4? The turbo 4, ok, I guess I can buy the argument, and there is a chance for torque steer.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        RWD is not necessarily heavy. My BMW 328i wagon weighs EXACTLY the same as my Saab 9-3 wagon did. There is no contest in handling between the two – the Saab was a good handling car, the BMW is in a different universe, while riding better as well even on the relatively crap OEM runflats. 50-50 weight distribution pays dividends.

  • avatar

    “The last includes forward collision alert and a lane departure warning that vibrates the seat instead of beeping—much less annoying. ”

    You LIKED this feature?

    When I had the XTS, I couldn’t wait to turn it off. I absolutely HATE all those “safety tec packages” and when I get my next 300cSRT8 I’m gonna be certain it doesn’t have it. I want massage seats. Having the seat “kick” me everytime someone is in my blindspot just makes me angry.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Hmmm…now you’ve done it! Here I am, sold the 2007 MX5 and am in the market for possibly replacing my beloved 2004 Impala. My choices? A new 2012 Impala LTZ or a Buick LaCrosse. Now I may have to check out Cadillac. Thanks a lot.

    I do notice that in one of the photos that the back windows roll down all the way! I count that as a serious win…sorry, y’all knew I had to say that…

    (slinking away quietly, now…………)

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      I can’t see how someone looking at the Impala and LaCrosse would see an ATS appealing. Someone who regularly travels by boat may not like traveling by rail. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      If you like the way an Impala drives, you’ll probably find this Cadillac far too responsive and severely lacking in interior cheapness and sofa-like seats.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The Caddy for you is the XTS, not the ATS.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      My rental du jour is a ’12 LaCrosse, completely loaded with NAV. It’s nice, in a giant barge sort of way. Quiet, effortless power, and the interior is quite well done. On the minus side, how can something so enormous feeling be so cramped inside, it has zero steering feel, and you can’t see out of it? Thank God for the backup cam. But I think it is brand perfection and quite a nice car for the non-enthusiast driver. No comparison to the out-going Impala at all, but of course the real-world price is probably nearly double.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    You shouldn’t mention the Cimarron until you review a Converj. :)

  • avatar
    catt102

    naturally everyone’s tastes are different but seven different interior choices and it looks like ALL?/most? of them have that awful shiny, black piano surface.

    please no more shiny, black in car interiors. seriously, is genuine aluminum or tasteful wood really that expensive?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Michael’s review mentions “choice of interior trims (wood, aluminum, carbon fiber)”. Maybe just not available for the photos?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I’ve been saying it for years – “The first thing we do…is kill all the faux aluminum plastic trim that’s painted silver.”

        Whoever was the genius that was the first to get this trend going should be identified and put into the guillotine.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Other sites report that it’s real aluminium in the ATS, not painted plastic.

      • 0 avatar

        The review includes photos of cars with the aluminum, carbon fiber, and wood trims. I noted that the CF and wood were real in the photo captions, neglected to do the same with the aluminum. The designers were adamant that all of the trim materials be real. The base car has plastic trim, but it doesn’t attempt to appear like something else.

        With all of these trims the center stack is shiny black plastic. This partly makes sense because much of this area is filled with touch sensitive controls as seen in the Volt and some recent Lincolns. Conventional buttons remain easier to operate, but these didn’t frustrate me.

        Unlike in the CTS, the trim pieces are only on the passenger side of the IP and the doors. I personally think this helpfully cleans up the center stack while freeing up its entire width for the controls. With the CTS-V, you have three different materials, all of them black, running the full height of the center stack. This is just too busy and wasteful of valuable real estate.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    how soon before an LSX and a Tremec?

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I’m not a fan of the elongation of the headlamps into the hood that seems to becoming a trend or the softening of the hard corners from the original CTS/STS design. I really don’t have an interest in this size segment as it’s too small for my preference, otherwise it seems like a good car for what it is–clearly a unique to GM’s lineup Cadillac and a big step above the comparably sized Buick.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I’m glad GM finally seems to be getting its act together. If there aren’t too many quality control issues and they treat customers right Cadillac might have a winner.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    There may be little surprises in the shortcuts that GM had to take to arrive at the “sporty” ATS. One glaring example: The BMW 3-series can be ordered with a manual transmission in all its versions, including the 335i with twin-turbo six. The ATS lets you have the fun of a manual only with the turbo 4-cylinder, which is not “6-cylinder fun” anyway. Nice move, GM. What do you do for an encore?

    ——-

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Sorry, you are incorrect. The manual is only available with the turbo 4. Auto is the only transmission for the base engine and the V6. At least you get a credit for choosing the manual, whereas with the new 3 series the manual is the same price as the automatic (kind of screws manual drivers).
      I do laugh when you say a manual is available in ALL versions of the three – there are only 2 engine choices (excluding M3). Here you get three choices, isn`t choice meant to be a good thing?

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Thanks for the correction, mike 978.

        You are right about the turbo 4. I goofed, but had a chance to make the correction above before my “edit time” expired.

        The point was: ATS = NO 6-cylinder with manual; BMW = YES, 6-cylinder with manual.

        ——–

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      ATS offers three engines, manual only in the mid-range 2.0T (not the base).

      3-series* offers two different engines, manual with all except base AWD (328ix)

      A4/S4* offers two different engines, manual with all except 2.0T FWD.

      C-class* offers three different engines, no manual available.

      * ignoring M3, RS4, AMG.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Thanks, th009…..

        Made the turbo-4 correction, as per mike978’s comment above.

        But why do either of you want to ignore the M3? Isn’t that car a valid member of the 3-series family?
        (Including the M3 does give BMW shoppers 3 engine choices in the 3-series.)

        ———-

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      M3, RS4 and AMG are valid competitors … for the ATS-V, if/when that model becomes available.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Hi again, th009…

        Yeah, OK: I see where you’re going here. But the fact remains that the BMW 3-series does have an advanced performance option available right now (the M3), so that does allow 3 engines choices. When the ATS-V becomes available (hopefully soon) then the ATS line would have 4 engine choices.

        ——–

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        You’re correct — Cadillac doesn’t have the complete line-up yet.

        – BMW offers a 2-door coupe and the M3
        – Audi offers a wagon, a 2-door coupe (A5/S5) and the RS5
        – Mercedes offers the AMG C63

        But then arguably Infiniti and Lexus have many of the same gaps, too.

        It’s far from perfect, but I do think it’s a very credible entry. (And I have never owned a GM vehicle …)

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        BMW offers 4dr sedan, 5dr wagon, 2dr coupe, and 2dr convertible versions of the 3-series. At the moment, only the 4dr is on the new platform, but all four body styles are still available. The new wagon comes next, then the coupe and convertible – which will be badged 4-series going forward, but are still on the same platform as the other two body styles.

        Note that in the rest of the world, BMW offers FAR more engine choices than here in the States. From 1.8L n/a gas four to 3.0L twin-turbo diesel.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        True, forgot about the convertibles (BMW and Audi) and the BMW wagon. Cadillac’s range will be closest to that of Mercedes.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Don’t forget, in addition, MB will soon have a ‘4-door coupe’ version of the C Class and BMW a GT version of the 3 Series.

  • avatar
    Monty

    Recalling Dan Akerson’s comments it seems Cadillac has under-promised and over-delivered with the ATS. I cannot recall any review of a GM product where the vehicle in question was so favourably compared to it’s competitors. A very refreshing change from the General.

    Not that I would ever consider buying an ATS, but now I’m very curious to test-drive a few of them. In all likelyhood, Mrs. Monty would look at a Verano, or Regal ahead of a Cadillac (Buicks are for old people, and Cadillacs are for wealthier old people in her mind), but she liked the looks of the Verano, so maybe the ATS is what starts changing her opinion of Cadillac. Mrs. Monty would be most interested in the turbo 4 with a stick, and having had a 335i manual for a loaner for several months, if Cadillac can convince her that the ATS is as good as a 3 Series, that is a very positive indicator that GM may be finally reading their customers better.

    This is the direction GM needs to travel – a car that may actually conquest sales from BMW, Audi and Daimler, because the car in question can legitmately compete with ze Germans.

    • 0 avatar
      Josh McCullough

      “Recalling Dan Akerson’s comments it seems Cadillac has under-promised and over-delivered with the ATS. I cannot recall any review of a GM product where the vehicle in question was so favourably compared to it’s competitors. A very refreshing change from the General.”

      “Not that I would ever consider buying an ATS.”

      That sums up every perception problem GM has.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        It takes a hell of a lot more than one competent and competitive vehicle to turn the tide.

        Even GM can apparently produce a decent car when it throws enough cash and resources at a project. Pity it can’t seem to do the same with most of the rest of its (Daewoo-and-Opel-sourced) car lines.

      • 0 avatar
        Monty

        Considering I prefer to own and operate a ten year old truck as my occasional daily driver (I bike to work most days), it’s unlikely I would buy any new car for myself – however, I did indicate that my wife, the venerable Mrs. Monty, might actually end up with the ATS on the short list. We will need to replace her present ride within the next year, and if I get her to test drive the Verano, I may be able to convince her that the ATS is worthy of consideration.

        We ARE the customer GM wants – we can afford the purchase price, we’re middle-aged with no children to support any longer, we have moved up the ladder (more importantly, I’m not nearly as cheap about buying cars as in the past), and we’re definitely “brand ambassadors” of whatever we’re currently driving, if it’s worthy. I espoused so vociferiously about our positive experiences with the Focus that we did Ford’s work and provided conquest sales from within our circle of family and friends.

        We have a basis for comparison, as we had use of a 335i coupe for a long term loaner (owner didn’t want it sitting all last summer and fall whilst he was away on an extended trip), and one of her co-workers purchased an Audi A4 Stasis which we have both had a lot of seat time in. If the ATS is equal to, or at least close to the 335, it will merit consideration. If it doesn’t have runflats, a notchy shifter and a comparable backseat, it will be a possible winner. My wife hated the ride with the runflats, detested the notchy shifter (loved the silky smooth action in the Audi, though) and complained that the seats were “too tight”, because she was unable to slide around (she’s got the “jimmy legs” and does a lot of squirming on longer drives).

        From the description of the ATS, it sounds like it may be just the ticket for her. I am not a fan of GM, but after our experiences with a rental Cruze, I am considering putting GM vehicles back on the list.

        That was a long way of saying “don’t take my words out of context”. Or, perhaps you missed the pertinent details of the post…

  • avatar
    rmwill

    Whats up with the small trunk largely due to el cheapo goose-neck hinges?

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Great Review, Michael! Looks like Cadillac finally has a fighter in the BMW’s weight class. Can’t wait to see what they do with the ATS-V.

  • avatar

    The best thing about this is the new-new 3.

    Congrats GM.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Finally…a car review.
    And A Good One!

    Michael, I always loved the 3. But 2 BIG things have kept me from it.
    First, the rear seat room was important as I insist upon offering my rear passengers a comfortable ride. Knee room is a must.
    Second…I HATE run Flats. What a stupid way to save storage space and lower weight. But I will not buy any car with RFlts. If I do, I guess I would be forced to eventually get real tires and go without a spare.

    Now the 3 is larger and I have hopes for the new wagon this fall…
    But still no regular affordable and available spare.

    Does THIS new Caddy have a a spare tire??
    I thought I read carefully but saw no referrence to this.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s no spare, even as an option. Otherwise, the trunk would be even smaller!

      The base 2.5 has conventional tires and a can of fix-a-flat. The others all have run flats. As noted in the review, it wasn’t possible to thoroughly evaluate ride quality.

  • avatar

    I’m happy to read a real review of the ATS, my local dealer has been gassing me up about how soon I’ll get to see one there. I think a V6 would make an excellent DD/girlfriend car. I don’t know if I read this right, but the base model doesn’t have leather? If not, what is it? Overall, I see a great change at Cadillac, something I’ve been wishing for every since the CTS popped up in 2003.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      It is leatherette. The configurator is now live on Cadillac.com – so they follow BMW (and the others) in having leather further up the spec/package tree.

      They seriously overcharge for paint – the nice metallic red is $995. That needs to change.

      • 0 avatar

        That is common practice at GM in general, I never have understood why Red-E cost 1k more than a non-metallic color on my older SRX. It just smells of highway robbery.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Audi, BMW, Mercedes all charge a premium for metallic paint as well … it’s par for the course in this segment.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        mike978,

        Yeah, $995 is a bit of a shock for paint. The up-charge for the special “sparkling graphite metallic” on my 2006 3-series was only $500. You’re right about the ATS folks needing to change their paint pricing, if even pricey BMW gets away with 1/2 that figure!

        ——–

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Metallic paint upcharge: $475 Audi A4, $550 BMW 3-series, $720 or $1515 Mercedes C-class. Cadillac is either $0 or $995 depending on the colour.

        Interestingly Cadillac has a “glacier blue metallic”, BMW has a “glacier silver metallic” and Audi has a “glacier white metallic.” Very different glaciers those three manufacturers have been looking at …

      • 0 avatar

        With the the white and the red, the paint has an extra coat and so requires an extra trip through the paint ovens. This does significantly add to its cost.

        The “chromaflair” pigment in the Thunder Gray paint significantly adds to its cost. When the CTS-V was introduced they used paint with three times as much of the pigment. It looked amazing. I asked why they didn’t do the same with the production paint. The response was that the pigment is so expensive that they’d have to charge a very high price for the option.

        The Europeans charge extra for standard metallic colors. GM still isn’t doing this.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Mike – thanks for the information regarding Thunder Grey. What annoys me though is the red tintcoat, which I think is a great color, is $325 on a Cruze. Saying these two cars are similar in size, and therefore surface area I would expect the cost to be comparable. Not three times the cost. My point was also in comparison with BMW which charges around $500 – although you do get a greater choice of “free” colors with the ATS than the 3 series (which has only 2 colors free!)

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Peal White paint, something GM got perfect. Just about the only white paint I’d pay for. Drove way too many white F-150s.

  • avatar
    catt102

    I should’ve been more clear, in the photos the center stack looks like it’s shiny, black plastic. boo.

    while yes, it looks like the dash trim can be carbon/alum/wood.

  • avatar

    So did they make any mention of an ATS-V?

  • avatar
    Wraith

    “EPA ratings with the three engines, automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive are 22/33, 22/32, and 19/28, respectively.”

    Any word on mpg with AWD?

  • avatar
    vvk

    I would not choose this over a 3er. If it had a spare tire, maybe. But it does not. Stupid GM…

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      I’m pretty sure 3ers have run flats and no spare. Run flats = horrid ride. An old gf had one.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        el scotto,

        You are right: 3-series = run-flats (RF’s) and no spare. But as for the ride, it depends on how old the old gf was (!), meaning there are several generations of RF’s now since 2003; and some, like ContiProContact, have a decent ride, – – almost (but not quite) as good as regular tires. Some, like Bridgestone Turanza are hard, stiff, and maybe good as track tires but little else.

        ———-

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        I don’t care about runflats, they are easy enough to discard. I do care very much about the absence of a spare tire.

        BMWs have no spare, so having a spare would be a huge competitive advantage for ATS. Since GM chose to copy BMW’s lunacy (not including a spare tire,) there is no reason to buy an ATS over a 3er.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        To vvk and el scotto,

        Forgive me, but you may be over-emphasizing the need for a spare tire over the virtues of run-flats. Yes, there are some, and we all better get used to that feature, since more car makers will be getting on board in the future:
        1) No need to change a punctured tire in a dangerous neighborhood or inclement weather;
        2) Controlled air-release (gradual: it actually allows you to pump up a tire even with a nail in it);
        3) No outright blow-outs (which had usually occurred in sidewalls of regular tires);
        4) Even without the benefit in 2) above, you can drive deflated up to 100 miles at 50 mph to get help.

        But, yes, here are some disadvantages:
        1) Not all back-country garages have run-flats, nor the equipment to mount them properly;
        2) They are more expensive;
        3) Their ride is often a little worse (nowadays) than regular tires;
        4) Their cornering ability may not be up to the standard of non run-flat performance tires.

        There you have it. Would I get them again for my two BMW’s? Probably. But If I were doing track days as an exclusive diet, or lived a million miles from nowhere, probably not. But that is not my lifestyle. So, I guess, it really depends on where you live and what your driving habits are.

        —————

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        NMGOM, I am not arguing for or against run flats. I personally dislike them but they do have their advantages. I am arguing against selling a car without a spare tire. By all means, BMW and Cadillac, use run flats all you want if you believe in their redeeming qualities. But also include a spare or at least space for a spare.

        I had TWO full size spare tires on my trip to Alaska, my trusty old Volvo 245 accommodating both without any reduction in cargo space. I had to use both of them. There are places where you will DIE if you don’t have a spare tire.

        Another example. I accidentally ripped my tire apart on a trip to Canada. Replacing a run flat would have been problematic and would delay me and my family a couple of days (it was a long weekend.) It would have also cost several hundred dollars. Instead, I opened my E46 BMW’s trunk, took out my matching full size spare and was on my way in a few minutes. No speed restrictions, no safety concerns.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Audi is the way to go for those of us who hate run-flats and want to carry a spare, as long as you can tolerate FWD or AWD.

      Add extremely poor availability of winter tires to the list of run-flat disadvantages.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        rpn453,

        Certainly FWD is out of consideration for me, since driving performance is a key requirement.
        But ironically, so is AWD: that system is not nearly as virtuous as it may seem, in my view.

        Here is why AWD would not measure up, at least for me, for robust performance and durability. (This write-up is actually a “clip” from a Word document that I prepared for my son when had asked me “why not AWD?” after a long discussion on the topic) :

        1) “Slow upon Turn-In”. When the car initially enters a corner (before the apex, just beginning the turn), the vehicle feels sluggish, as though it’s almost “tripping” over itself.
        (Although, after cresting the apex, and coming out at the exit, the AWD system can often lay down power very effectively.)

        2) “Insensitive, numb steering, with little feedback”. The increased necessary force in the AWD power-steering system, needed to allow easy turning, also reduces sensitivity to road conditions, an essential requirement for accurate driving. If the power steering forces are reduced, then “torque-steer”(#3 below) becomes more of a problem.

        3) “Torque Steer”. This is the tendency of any AWD car to turn directionally one way or the other upon moderate to intense acceleration. It means that the driver has to “fight” that tendency with his own effort, and then work harder to place the car accurately where he wants it. Torque-steer can be minimized by better engine placement and similar-sized half-shafts, but cannot be eliminated.

        4) “Under-steer”. This is the tendency of the vehicle to “plow” ahead without turning well, once the curve has been fully engaged. It is a consequence of both the often lop-sided, front-biased weight distribution (#5 below) of AWD cars, which of necessity must have a front-mounted engine; and the fact that the front tires must “divide their traction budget” between power delivery to the ground and directional-turning forces.

        5) “Added Weight and Poor weight Distribution”. AWD systems, with their separate differentials (often two) and multiple drive shafts, can add hundreds of pounds to vehicle weight, and almost all in the wrong place: the front end. This means that a lop-sided weight distribution is created, further accentuating the under-steer problem (#4 above). The AWD system also forces the engine to be placed higher up in the car, meaning that the vertical weight distribution is adversely affected (#6 below). The ideal weight distribution for a performance car is either 50/50, or a rear-weight bias of 47/53 (F/R) to 48/52 (F/R), depending on driving needs: no AWD car can achieve either.

        6) “Higher COM: Prohibited Low Front-Engine Placement”. For front-engine performance cars, designers try to get the engine to be placed as low as possible so that the vertical COM (center-of-mass) is as low as possible. (They also try to get it as far back as possible.) But the AWD system and its associated hardware prevent a really low placement. This was clearly shown in the development of the Subaru BRZ /Toyota FR-S, which intentionally went with RWD for that reason (over Subaru’s initial objections, since it had specialized in AWD).

        7) “Mechanical Damage Susceptibility”. The more delicate and mechanically complex front-end hardware of an AWD system is less robust, and can be misaligned or damaged by endurance road races on severe tracks. RWD does not suffer from this. In the 2012 “24-Hours of The Nürburgring”, the noted AWD car maker, Audi, deliberately ran its “R8 Ultra” cars with RWD only to make sure they last. Porsche did not use its 911 AWD “Turbo” for the same reason.

        8) “Cost”. AWD systems are much more expensive to make than RWD systems.

        …………….

        With regard to winter-tire availability in run-flat versions: Blizzak, Continental, and Michelin (and others, I’m sure) all make winter run-flat tires. Please see link below:

        http://tires.tirerack.com/search?asug=&view=list&w=winter+run+flat+tires&x=12&y=10

        But you are right: it does seem that the range of selection may be somewhat more restrictive than with regular winter tires. What is your vehicle, model, year, and wheel size?

        —————–

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          Having just driven an ATS turbo AWD today, I went back to read this review by Karesh and saw your apparently erudite post on AWD.

          I have owned the following AWD cars: ’87 Audi 4000 quattro, ’90 Eagle Talon Tsi, ’94 Audi 90 quattro, ’88 Subaru GL Turbo, ’99 Subaru Impreza, ’08 Subaru Legacy GT.

          Only one showed torque steer, and then only in crossing snow ridges between lanes – ’99 Impreza. None of the others evinced torque steer at all. Here’s my bill for “delicate” AWD half shafts, center diffs, or for running gear in general. $0. Zero. Zip.

          Only two of the cars ever showed the “understeer” you speak of: ’88 GL, ’94 quattro. Neither were as bad as the 2013 Accord I recently drove. The Impreza was silly good at abrupt transitions, such as suddenly diving down a side street at 30 mph.

          All these new cars I’ve driven in the last year : Abarth, Focus, Dart, Accord, Mazda6, ATS have EPAS. They all suck compared to the LGT I currently own, which is hydraulic but fairly numb I thought when I bought it, compared to my previous cars.

          The LGT’s hood (and therefore engine underneath) is so low I have to bend down to touch it. High engine placement? The Impreza’s was higher.

          I have to ask, just exactly how many AWD cars have you owned? Or are your comments just a theoretical thought exercise typed for posterity?

          My LGT weighs 100 pounds more than the ATS, is 2 inches shorter, is lower, has a temp spare tire, and has a much bigger back seat. It’s AWD system is far more advanced, being full time with a planetary center diff and 45/55 F/R static torque split. It’s pretty obviously the better system compared to the ATS’s. Something not quite right there, almost, but not quite snatchy, like an engine unable to run evenly.

          The Cadillac has amazing handling though, very responsive. Oh yes indeed, although you have to sort of trust the suspension because the steering is numb, like all EPAS systems I’ve driven. The engine is as laggy as the LGT, thought it would be better. It might be a bit quicker, but hard to tell, and it’s no fun to listen to. The interior materials in the ATS are better, but indifferently assembled, and a jumble. No theme, just scattershot mixes of stitching and weird door panels. Not even a backup camera for $40 large in Canada.

          Had to extricate myself from dealership gently. Now I suppose it’s BMW time. Even Audi – owned 5 of them, maintenance hogs. Frustrated.

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            Hi wmba ……

            Glad you got to drive and ATS (and let us here know your impressions), but did you also check out a RWD version?

            Briefly:
            1) My comments were general and statistical; your comments were personal and anecdotal: the two don’t always jive.
            Example: The “delicate” FWD component of an AWD system doesn’t matter much until you hit a curb or pothole sideways, at speed, and perhaps you didn’t, which is why you can report $0 repairs. RWD is more immune to damage here, statistically.

            2) Never owned AWD. Would never do such a thing. I even sent the truck back that I ordered when it mistakenly was furnished with 4WD. Have driven many AWD’s. Have received repair remarks from owners/friends. The early Audi’s you mentioned were indeed maintenance hogs. I drive my friend’s Honda CR-V all the time: a really goofy AWD system, but that’s another story.

            3) AWD systems generally are known to have less perceptible torque-steer than their purely FWD counterparts, depending on F/R torque split. But if you haven’t detected significant torque-steer, you just haven’t been accelerating and trying to turn the wheel urgently enough. They also show more understeer fail than comparable RWD cars: see video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdiF-BxPSH0

            4) Higher engine placement is again a general characteristic of FWD/AWD systems, as well as a more forward biased weight distribution, when comparing to modern RWD cars. The vertical COG, often measured by some car magazines, is almost invariably higher for AWD cars then for their RWD counterparts (e.g., Mercedes, BMW). I think the new Scion FR-S and Porsche Boxster are excellent examples of cars with a low vertical COG, to which no FWD/AWD vehicle can compare. And the F/R weight distribution on my 2006 RWD BMW 325i is 50/50, for example.

            But if you have been driving Subaru’s, you have one of the best AWD systems made (barring perhaps the newer versions of Audi Quattro). I doubt that the ATS AWD system would be as good (but here I am guessing); and the BMW X-drive AWD systems certainly can’t compare effectively to Subaru’s AWD.

            —————

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        To: vvk…

        Thank you for your response.

        (I just don’t know how to put my comment anywhere else in order to be in the same “commentary neighborhood”, so I guess we’ll have to ask rpn453’s pardon!)

        Actually, you have described the perfect “million-miles-from-nowhere” situation in which NOT to use run-flats alone, and definitely to include a spare tire (or two, or three). In fact, some of my friends in the local BMW club who do continue on with run-flats keep a spare tire anyway. But they had to buy a jack on the after-market: BMW won’t sell it for their “mandatory” run-flat cars. And that’s a shame.

        I hope you enjoyed your road trip to Alaska: that is something I’ve always wanted to do. I am envious! (^_^)…

        ——–

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Yeah, I’d prefer RWD if I didn’t drive on ice and snow almost every day for four months straight each year (not to suggest that I don’t enjoy that). 2WD is adequate in winter, but not nearly as much fun. Up here, it’s best to have an AWD daily driver and a second car for summer RWD pleasure. That, or an AWD winter beater.

        As for winter tires, I’m a studded tire junkie, as are pretty well all my friends and family. I’d expect that they may be available in run-flat versions in Europe but I’ve never seen any here. So when it came down to it, the B8 S4 was the obvious choice for both of my buddies who were recently in the market for such a car. Nokian Hakka 7’s on one and Gislaved Nord Frost 5’s on the other, in 245/40R18. The first one to buy that car looked into putting a spare tire kit in a 335xi, but it would have taken up way too much trunk space.

        The one S4 owner daily drives an ’09 Z06 in summer. The other plans to get a RWD sports car once the S4 is paid off. We all grew up driving electronic-free RWD vehicles, so we do crave it. Me, I’m just driving my lowly but well-loved Mazda3!

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    That red interior is awful, why the heck are these making a comeback? I thought they died in the 1980s.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    If they don’t mess up with the quality and reliability, they should do very well.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I could like the ATS but I’m not a big fan of their styling. I do like how they softened it up tho. I worry about reliability and
    when I see 5 year old Cadilacs they look tired. I’ll add it to my list for a test drive to replace my A3 in a couple of years, but so far I’m not sold.

  • avatar

    looks too much like a CTS, has a stupid name, suffers from the same inept GM marketing and will certainly fail. want one? simply wait for the inevitable distress pricing.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Ummm a lot of assumptions. It might fail but it might do well like the Cruze has. I mention the Cruze because on previous history a compact Chevy would have been bound to fail and have “distress” pricing. As the Cruze approaches its third model year the deals are still pretty limited on it.
      As for marketing, I haven`t seen much for this. As for naming, well I don`t think Lexus, Acura or Lincoln do any better with their two or three letter concoctions.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    the009,

    You said: “Interestingly Cadillac has a “glacier blue metallic”, BMW has a “glacier silver metallic” and Audi has a “glacier white metallic.” Very different glaciers those three manufacturers have been looking at …”

    Very funny. Must be the time of day: Blue = later afternoon; White = mid day; Silver = early morning on the same glacier (^_^). Or maybe they were all up there together, meditating, or drinking beer, or something… Probably it was the German beer, after which a glacier can look like any color you want…

    ———-

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I don’t see this succeeding. Why this, when I can get a 3er w/a usable trunk, backseat, and the dynamics this car was modeled on for little to no more $$$$?

    JB blows a lot of hot air, but he was right when he said Caddy needs to stop aping the Germans and build AMERICAN cars. If I want German I buy German. But everyone doesn’t want German (see, ironically, Chrysler 300). There is a huge glut in truly American luxury cars- and I don’t mean land yachts. I am thinking more, the IMAJ. Something bold and different.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      “Why this, when I can get a 3er w/a usable trunk, backseat, and the dynamics this car was modeled on for little to no more $$$$?”

      We all know that shoppers in the entry luxury market are all about the trunk space and rear seat. Good lord. The reviewer wrote that, in spite of those two flaws, the ATS would be his choice in the segment. So, you’re not going to buy one now that its out? You never were going to buy one.

      God forbid Cadillac puts out a credible entry level luxury vehicle…how dare they…those morons.

      “There is a huge glut in truly American luxury cars”

      I would argue that there’s a huge glut in the demand for truly American luxury cars…our American luxury cars are 40k muscle cars.

      You say that you don’t see this vehicle succeeding….what would be your definition of success for the ATS?

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        “We all know that shoppers in the entry luxury market are all about the trunk space and rear seat. Good lord. The reviewer wrote that, in spite of those two flaws, the ATS would be his choice in the segment. So, you’re not going to buy one now that its out? You never were going to buy one.”

        Well when the ATS offers nothing different from the 3, those details begin to make a difference. Especially when you consider this might be someone’s only car, as opposed to the family car/sports car combo these cars are supposed to replace

        “God forbid Cadillac puts out a credible entry level luxury vehicle…how dare they…those morons.”

        Nobody said that. This is w/o a doubt Caddy’s best car since the original CTS. But it apes the 3 so much the question of why one should choose it over the 3 becomes legitimate in this climate. Nearly all of the 3’s other competitors either offered a significant advantage/different experience than the 3 (A4 = quattro, G35 = horsepower, CTS = 5 for 3 money) or came out during a time where there was much more room to expand (190/C class, Lexus IS, Volvo S60, etc)

        Plus those models still succeed because they have established brand cachet. The models have legacies. Caddy has none.

        “I would argue that there’s a huge glut in the demand for truly American luxury cars…our American luxury cars are 40k muscle cars.”

        And you know what? The Chrysler 300 was a huge success. In its best year it sold over 2x (140K) in the US what GM hopes the ATS will do worldwide (60K). The Chrysler 300 filled an actual market gap, rather than jumped into an incredibly crowded segment.

        Am I saying Caddy should make another 300? No, sales have dropped down to the mid 30s even with the new model. Market demands are completely different. But Americans still want cars that are bold and unique. The ATS is literally anything but.

        You say that you don’t see this vehicle succeeding….what would be your definition of success for the ATS?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I thought the CTS (Catera) *was* a credible entry level luxury vehicle? Did something change to allow it to be better than this new ATS, or did they just make a slightly smaller version of the same car in order to boost the price of the current entry level car, CTS?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        @ 28 days later –

        Coincidentally, I had a Cadillac Catera for 4 months provided by the company I worked for, and drove it many, many miles.

        That car (an Opel built in Rüsselsheim, Germany) felt as German as anything I’ve ever driven. The 3 liter motor (built in England) didn’t sound particularly refined, but it wasn’t course either, and the car was SOLID and quiet, with a relatively large back seat and very large trunk.

        Unlike the ATS, there’s no doubt that the Catera, despite being the brunt of many jokes, was far more suitable for accommodating 4 adults in comfort over long treks, and provide enough cargo space in the trunk for their luggage, to boot (pun that works for both Canadians and Brits).

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Caddy needs to stop aping the Germans and build AMERICAN cars.”

      That’s a nice theory, and I don’t entirely disagree with it.

      However, there is very little demand in the marketplace for traditional American sedans, particularly expensive ones. Americans don’t want very many of them, and the rest of the world wants even fewer of them.

      The Panther worshipers think that it’s normal to adore floaty, blandtastic land yachts. Sales data should make it clear that they’re wrong. The Germans have dramatically changed the American consumer’s expectations for what defines a luxury sedan, and everyone else has little choice but to pay attention.

      Of course, it isn’t competitive to offer an exact copy of the Germans, as most people will choose the original over a copy. But the idea of GM going back to its roots isn’t a viable choice, either. Somehow, they need to figure out how to be the same, yet different.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Exactly. GM def needs a “Chrysler 300″ moment, albeit with a car that has attributes relevant to the times. Caddy is not going to gain the volume they seek by building a carbon copy of a 3 series for the price of a 3 series.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    crunch crunch crunch

    Good popcorn

    crunch crunch crunch

    The GM haters are out with the Cimmaron flags.

    crunch crunch crunch

    The GM defenders are out with hope for the V in the future

    crunch crunch crunch

    And the BMW fans are measuring the rope to hang Michael from for daring to compare a piece of Detroit iron to a 3-series.

    crunch crunch crunch

    Mmmmmmmmmm…good popcorn, and cheaper than a movie.

    Please, keep talking amongst yourselves – quite fascinating.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      What makes you think this car will succeed? It’s a very good also ran in one of the most competitive automotive segments.

      What reason is there for anyone to buy this over a 3? G? C? A4? S60? TSX even?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Sporty – the same argument can be made for any car in this (or any other) class. Why buy an A4? or IS250 or TSX or C180 ? I can`t think of too many categories where one vehicle has 50% market share and is head and shoulders above the others. In the compact luxury category, which is what this review is about, the 3 series is the volume leader but still has a minority of the market share. Therefore there are plenty of people who want a compact luxury car but choose something else (like an A4, G250, IS250, C180, TSX). Why not an ATS?

        As Sunridge says above “what would be your definition of success”. I don`t expect this will get half way to 3 series sales (so no more than 4000 a month). But since this a first generation model I would think that is creditable. Maybe outsell the IS would be a good sign too.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        You said it wouldn’t succeed…I asked you what you thought success would be for this vehicle. A fair question I thought.

        A ‘very good also ran’? An ‘also ran’ in sales? In specifications? In looks? An ‘also ran’ compared to the G, C, A4, S60 and TSX?

        You act like the demographic for this segment is two parents and two kids trying to see if their groceries and child seats can fit…and the lack of trunk space compared to the 3 series will doom it…that’s not the demographic.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        crunch crunch crunch

        I’m sorry, but where did I comment on the success or failure.

        crunch crunch crunch

        If anything, wait, slllllurrrrp, Mmmmmm, good Diet Coke, icy cold.

        If anything, you even responding to me, let alone the way you did, is making me go back to the microwave to pop another bag.

        crunch, crunch, crunch

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        APaGttH – I think sunridge was replying to sportyaccordy, as was I. You can go back to your pop-corn now.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        My reply was directed at sportyaccordy.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        mike178- you tell me?

        Like I explained before, all the cars you mentioned came out during a time where there was room to expand, or they offered something the 3 + rest of the competition didn’t. ATS brings nothing to the table its competitors don’t (it is literally a BMW printed on Caddy paper) in a time where its segment is damn near fully saturated. 4000 units a month- thats close to 50K. Youre talking about 50K in a 400K segment.

        And lets not forget, 3er “caught GM by surprise”. ATS was benchmarked on the E46 in dynamics and E90 in space. What’s gonna happen when the new IS, G, and C-Class all come out within the next 2-3 years? Had this thing truly been a revelation rather than a very good also ran, this could have raised the bar to which those other cars had to live up to… but now it is fighting a rapidly rising tide

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I look at GM like I look at some of my drunken uncles. They’ve been on a bender for decades, even rehab (bankruptcy) did little to sober them up. They’ve been getting by on trucks, the Corvette, and Cadillac. The rest of they time they’ve been drinking cheap wine behind the mini-mart. Then they make something like this and I start to believe they’ve sobered up and got their act together. For frequent readers/commentators that’s my view on GM, so much was wasted (no pun intended).

  • avatar
    love2drive

    I guess my problem with GM in general is that they don’t realize how far they’ve fallen. They sell commodity cars now, in my opinion, other than in the truck segment where they can really sell on function and reputation. As such, at least in North America (China and Buick aside), they need to compete on price. When Lexus was introduced, they sold on the notion of everything you get in a Mercedes for half the price. It took them more than a decade to be a direct competitor with Mercedes, so that people cross shop. People who are shopping for 3 Series are not cross shopping with Cadillac, on reputation and image alone. They’ll cross shop Audi, which are perceived as a real comparable purshase. As long as they think they are in the same league as BMW and so price the same way, they will fail. It’ll sell in middle america, where there is a lot more loyalty to US makers, but on the coasts, I think it’s no sale. Give me everything a BMW has for 10 grand less, then I would consider it. But if it’s the same price, with no measurable upside? Given that a lot of the cost is for a “premium status”, for the same money I’ll take the one that gives me the most. In truth GM is doing the same thing with Chevrolet – the competition for that brand now are the Korean car makers, not the Japanese. And so they need to compete on price against them. This isn’t a reflection at all on the quality of the offerings GM provides, it’s just a reflection of how far the GM brands have fallen in the last 15 years, and especially the last five, in the eyes of consumers. You just have to wake up, and realize that other than with trucks, they’re starting over again in many ways. And the new guys always compete on price, until the reputation warrants more.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I could not agree more. Chevrolet, from the standpoint of car offerings, *is becoming* a Korean automaker and competes as such. Buick is where all of the random stuff will get parked, much like Olds, Pontiac, and Saturn before it. I suppose in theory it competes with anything Japanese, not only Lexus as is claimed. Cadillac tries so hard to be BMW, and yet it can’t be. I don’t know too many people who even take it seriously anymore, as the older crowd I’ve seen who hasn’t yet died off has switched to floaty FWD Camcords which remind them of the old Caddys. GM may be starting over as you put it, but they can’t/won’t compete on price and it will doom them.

      • 0 avatar
        jetcal1

        I am looking at a Buick. And I will look at an ATS.
        The Japanese cars have lost their edge, and the
        Reliability and Maintenance costs of the German
        cars will be far more then I will lose in depreciation
        over the years. GM may not be where we would
        like them to be, but the tenure of Lutz maybe starting
        to payoff. Take look at a particular segment before
        you wrote off GM as a whole. There maybe areas where
        they are weak, but no single manufacturer has the
        the whole spectrum covered with perfect vehicles across
        their line. (Doing this on a phone is not fun.)

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      I don’t know where to start here…

      So, even though GM is at or near the top in a number of segments in retail sales and transaction price…they should lower those prices? So, lets lower the prices on the Sonic, Verano/Cruze, Equinox/Terrain, Traverse/Acadia/Enclave?

      In segments where they are either not as competitive or non-existant, they should build cars equal or better than the competition but sell them at a loss for about 10 years just to gain consideration? By that way of thinking, they should have the Sonic priced around 12k just to win some sales….but wait a minute, they lead that segment in retails sales with transaction prices over 17k.

      They will try to carve out a profitable share in the entry level luxury market with the ATS. The CTS will be bigger for 2014MY and by then they will have ATS/New CTS/XTS to offer. A heck of a lot better than CTS/STS/DTS of the past few years. Will they beat BMW/Mercedes in sales. Probably not. Will they pass Lexus? I think they can pass Lexus in car sales. 40% of Lexus volume is the RX they they only sell about 10k Lexus cars a month. Can they do this profitably? That’s the challenge, but they have a hell of a lot better chance with the new Cadillac lineup then the one they’ve had over the past few years…and they sure as heck don’t need to get the share by selling $33k luxury cars for $23k.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        GM has been traditionally strong in its SUV/CUV/Whatever UV segments, with some models they are making a good percentage of the whole brand’s sales (I would imagine Equinox and Terrain are a nice chunk of their respective brand’s sales, as you pointed out the RX is to Lexus). There is no need to offer a bargain in these segments.

        However GM is not strong in the small car segment, nor are they strong in the near luxury segments dominated by the Japanese. So Civic/Fit eat you lunch in the compact and subcompact segments? You’re darn right you should price your Daewoo’s below the market leaders and start building your new customer base by offering better value for the money. The only brand left to throw at near luxury is Buick, and with some success they introduced a few winners in with Verano and I suppose Lacrosse, but they are going to have to keep going if the marquee is to survive. Ask 30 somethings which near luxury brand model they would lease…a Nissan Altima, a Honda Accord, or a Buick Regal? I might be the only person I know who would choose the Buick and even I won’t touch one until they stop pretending to be Fast and Furious with turbos and offer a fracking NA V6. My Regal thoughts aside, people aren’t running out in droves to buy them, so cut the prices below similarly equipped market leaders and again build a loyal customer base. I think in more modern times this strategy was employed by Hyundai who did this with great success. Ten years ago Hyundai/Kia were at the bottom of the rung in the car market, look at them now.

        I haven’t seen images of the 2014 CTS, but I just saw the current one sitting next to the new ATS yesterday at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, and from most angles they were difficult to distinguish from each other. The BMW 5 visually looks different enough from the 3 even a causal observer can see this, and these ‘5 only’ design cues (grille and bulbous face, door shape, tail lights etc) present an air of desirability over the smaller 3. I can say even the XTS visually looked different from the C and A, albeit even uglier -which says alot- but it wasn’t a carbon copy on larger letterhead like ATS/CTS. They just did this with the CTS and Seville a few years ago, the last gen STS IIRC was merely a stretched CTS with different engine options, unless I was mistaken (it certainly looked like one). Everything aside what the alphabet soup of Cadillac says to me is GM as a corporation was hurting badly, and still probably is if these are its best offerings. The same rules should apply here too… if your ATS is meant to compete with 3 series, shouldn’t you price it a tad lower or offer something the competitor is not? *cough cough standard V6* I know the article was talking about getting more in the luxury packages in ATS vs 325, and who knows this may be the way to go, but to me its an accounting exercise. I want to buy my ride because I like it, not because I save $772 dollars over a 3 series because the 36inch alloy wheel package includes standard traction control as opposed to extra from BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        “However GM is not strong in the small car segment, nor are they strong in the near luxury segments dominated by the Japanese.”

        2012 CY Sales #’s:

        YTD Civic/Fit Sales=186,872
        YTD Corolla/Yaris Sales= 171,697
        YTD Cruze/Sonic Sales= 156,124

        BTW Sonic nearly outsells the Fit and Yaris combined. 42k Jan-June sales for the Sonic vs 44k Jan-June sales for the Fit/Yaris.

        You are commenting on your perception of the past not the present on GM and small cars. Is GM the leader in small cars? No, are they being ‘dominated’? Hardly.

        So, you would rather knock a couple grand off the price of the Cruze to try and squeeze out 5000 more sales a month (30,000 over 6 months)?

        110,000 units @ $20,000 ATP= $2.2 B
        140,000 units @ $18,000 ATP= $2.5 B

        I’ll betcha the cost of producing an extra 30,000 units more than eats up the $300 Million extra revenue.

        I know its not this simple. If production costs are around $13,000 per unit then building an extra 30,000 units to sell for $2000 less actually eats up $390 million in costs…you just lost $90 million bucks.

        How is Buick/GMC being dominated by the Japenese in near Luxury?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You certainly present some interesting figures Sunridge, looks like I’ll lose my seat on the board to you at the next planning meeting :)

        But seriously, the Civic just had refresh issues and is being actively marketed to correct its damaged perception. The North American model Corolla dates from January 2008 and the next gen is currently out only in Japan according to Wikipedia. So a two year old Cruze design is directly competing against a very dated, decontented Corolla, and a Civic which is recovering from a PR/Marketing fiasco, and its still in 3rd place by these figures. Sure this is probably worlds better than GM of the past, but its still not enough strength in the segment. Just getting Civic/Corolla buyers to cross shop you is an improvement but doesn’t necessarily translate into beating your rival for the sale. My thought is plan for the long haul, if one day you intend to lead the segment you have to give buyers incentive to switch and subsequently stay with your marquee over the current leaders. If there was no Hyundai/Kia or Nissan offerings in the segment, this might be possible without under the current scheme. But the fact is those rivals exist and will more than likely suck sales from GM and Ford, not from Toyonda. Give your customers a better car in the segment and charge a bit less. GM needs to profit but the fact is what keeps the lights on at RenCen is not Cruze/Sonic sales, and probably never will be, but at least in the past, Civic profits were crucial to Honda. If they could somehow pull an upset and rob their rivals of sales, they could win more volume and reduce the profits of the Japanese at the same time.

        I don’t have sales figures of Buick/GMC but I can say Pittsburgh has a GM slant to it. I see plenty of new GMCs but I don’t see plenty of new Buicks, just lots of the H and W variety and an occasional Enclave. I do see lots of shiny new Nissans and Hondas, typically loaded up on options. I can’t speak for the rest of the country but this isn’t looking good for Buick’s long term future from where I’m driving.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        I know what you’re saying…they need to increase consideration and price could help them do that.

        But, I don’t think its worth it in the long run. If there were a magical way to reduce the sales price for those incremental units they need to catch up, then they should go for it. But, you reduce the price for everyone…not just some people.

        By the way, if GM can’t figure out a way to sell small cars at a profit, the lights will go out in Ren Cen. There are dozens of reasons they went bankrupt, but one of them was the inability to build and sell small cars without losing their shirts doing it.

        You would be surprised how critical making $$ on small cars is to their success.

        And, oh yeah, we’re just talking USA sales.

        Take a look at global sales for the Cruze platform. Its certainly not #1 globally either but they have sold more Cruzes in China YTD (118k units) than in the US (112k units)

        That’s the real secret to selling small cars at a profit…not lowering the price a few thousand bucks to get a few more customers….its successful global platforms.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Eh, people really don’t cross-shop Lexus with MB or BMW.

      Look at IS and GS sales compared to C/E Class 3/5 Series sales (and the Lexus models have the price advantage).

      The bulk of Lexus sales are made up of the cheaper FWD models like the RX and ES.

      Even the LS460 is tens of thousands less expensive than the S Class.

      The ATS, with just one body style (until the coupe is developed), should place a comfortable 3rd in sales behind the 3 Series and C Class, and when the ATS coupe is added, may very likely nudge past the C Class.

      The 3G larger and more luxurious CTS should be even better within its segment than the ATS.

      Longtime BMW driver and I would seriously give the new and upcoming Cadillac models a hard look.

      BMWs have gotten bloated and the designs are just plain awful compared to what they were during the 1990s.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        But the ATS is benchmarked & is within fractions of inches of the dimensions of the 3ers from the 00s. And IMO anyway, the 3er’s design isn’t that great, but really neither is the ATS. A&S is getting long in the tooth, and this was a pretty lazy application. The F30 is proven dynamically, and ironically is also among the most practical of its segment, with lots of trunk and interior space and class leading gas mileage + performance. I can’t think of anything of note the ATS brings to the table that its competitors don’t offer, and most of those competitors are at the end of their life cycles.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    “Hell, Chrysler’s 300 gets a far smoother V6 in its base version that obtains better fuel economy, develops far more power, has loads more front seat, rear seat and trunk space, and looks better than this Cadillac 4 banger, and does it for less money.” Exactly.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      But it’s not exactly in the same segment. Few people will cross-shop the 300 and the 3-series, even if the 300 is cheaper. Or cross-shop the Impala with the 1-series. Or …

      One can always come up with comparisons like this, but that doesn’t mean they make any sense.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      If you want smooth, nothing beats an ice cold rocks glass filled with Vermont Gold vodka.

      Vermont Gold, with the smooth taste of maple in every sip.

  • avatar
    John

    This car is sad in so many ways. Two pieces of wood = real wood interior. First car I’ve ever seen that came from the factory tubbed. Will they have a Pro Street model for 13 1/2?
    Punching holes in sheet metal to lose weight – yeah, high tech all right – maybe in 1920.

    • 0 avatar
      jetcal1

      John,
      If done right, holes save weight and make the structure stronger.
      I’d highly suggest you do not look at any aircraft
      structures. The number of holes would bother you.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Wow, jetcal1, are you sure?

        You said: “If done right, holes save weight and make the structure stronger.”

        Did you mean that the structure would be stronger per unit weight (which does make sense); or stronger in the absolute way (I have trouble with that)? I am not into structural mechanics, but how would the latter occur, if true?

        ———–

      • 0 avatar
        jetcal1

        NMGOM,
        It’s true. However, I did fail to mention that holes must be flanged. If you look at the oval holes in the c-pillar, you will see flanged holes. It allows for thinner material that if flanged correctly will be stronger torsionally and significantly lighter. I can only assume there some mechanical engineers reading this forum who can really explain it well. I am just a turbine wrench turner.

      • 0 avatar
        John

        jet- I’m afraid you missed my point. I do know that holes make a structure lighter (they can also cause stress risers if not done right) – I’ve put them in my own street-strip car. What I was getting at was it was sad that this was one of the few things GM had to brag about in this article, when the technology is about one hundred years old. They do not; by the way, make a structure stronger.

  • avatar
    carguy

    It will be difficult for GM to convince sport sedan buyers that they can match BMW but this looks like a very good effort. I actually like that GM had no problem sacrificing trunk space for the sake of better handling. This is just where BMW went wrong – every generation since the E36 has been more family friendly and less driver focused leading to an increasingly less involving driving experience (and a bigger trunk and back seats).

    I have owned every 3 series since the E30 but will definitely test the ATS before replacing my current E92.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      This is the good news/bad news of this review. Yes GM has built a car that rivals a 3 series for driving pleasure excitement, but only because the 3 series has gone so far away from that. How would the ATS stand up in comparison to an e36 or e46? probably not nearly as well. I haven’t driven an F30 or this, but if I were to go trade in my e46 today, it would probably end up on the Infiniti dealer’s lot (I have driven G37’s). If I wanted something bigger and posher, I’d head for Chrysler and get a 300C.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        @tjh8402: I would have to agree. While the engine and transmissions are better in the E90/92, the chassis and ride quality took a big step backwards. I don’t need the space so the 300C is too big for me but the ATS is on the list of possibilities (as is the G37).

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hi carguy,

      You’re an ideal person to do a good comparison with the ATS. Please tell us what you think after the test drive.

      ———-

  • avatar
    hachee

    I don’t understand when people complain about the roominess of the cars in this class. If there’s not enough room, it’s not the class for you, so just get something bigger. However, I did get a chance to sit in the back of an ATS at the Greenwich Concours last month, and room is fine, but the seat cushion (again, GM) is too short, especially at the ends of the seat, near entry. The 3 Series has a much longer, more comfortable back seat. But again, it’s not the primary or even one of the most important features in this segment. I imagine that most of the time these cars have only one or two people in them.

    As for the rest of the interior, at least from a relatively quick look and feel around, it seemed better than the CTS, and really no worse than a new 3 Series, which looks like a mess unless it’s all black. And IMO, the design/looks of the ATS interior is MUCH more appealing than the 3 and the current A4 (which is overrated, IMO, and worse than the previous one).

    It was really Audi that paved the way in this class, proving that most buyers will be just fine with a turbo 4. And now it’s obviously the trend, and affirmed by BMW. Now, in order to get a six in any of these, you’ve got to really spend the bucks. As others have said, it’s not the power – it’s the feel, and it doesn’t look like we’re turning back the clock any time soon.

    This car looks good, though not as good or as bold and distinctive as a CTS. I think this might ultimately hurt it a bit in the US, but time will tell.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Whats the point of a sedan if the rear seat is barely usable? Again this is not a sports car, its a sports sedan… its inherently compromised, so they might as well make it truly inhabitable for 4 passengers. Besides, just like with the rest of the segment, most folks are buying these cars for image & daily driver duties, not dynamics… so a little extra size + weight to ensure comfort prob won’t kill sales. I mean look at how much the F30 grew from the E90; and yet its lighter + still dynamically sound and still can carry 4 legitimate adults. There’s no excuse.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        Who said the rear seat is ‘barely usable’? Good grief. The reviewer wrote that it is on par with all the competition except the 3 Series which is debuting with a new model with a slightly bigger back seat.

        Have you ever been in the backseat of a Civic/Corolla/or Cruze?

        Its not like people will be reclining in the back seat of a 3 series with their legs stretched out. You want a sedan with a roomy backseat, the market (and GM) has options for you in both luxury and non-luxury. You can pay the same mid 30k and get a nice sedan with a roomy backseat or step up to 45k to 50k and get a roomier backseat in a luxury car.

        These are drivers cars. BMW…the Ultimate Driving Machine….not the Ultimate rear passenger Machine…or the Ultimate pack the kids in the back seat and the luggage in the trunk and head out to drive across the country with the family Machine

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        The ultimate driving machine isn’t a 4 door sedan with a touch screen laptop in the dash and 8 speed auto… its something like an Ariel Atom.

        This isn’t some abstract concept made for approval by the internet council of enthusiasts… its a car built to sell and make GM money. You might think the only measure that matters for this car is how awesome it is on the road, but the vast majority of folks buying it will be looking at how practical it is, and when they see it is off the mark behind the 3 series, you don’t think that’s gonna impact their decisions?

        Most people in this segment are concerned w/brand, which Caddy doesn’t have. And it doesn’t have a leg up on anything else w/the competition. Whats the draw? Where are they gonna find 50-60K sales?

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        ‘Where are they going to find 50-60k sales’?

        I would imagine that some of the sales will come from the CTS which already gets about 5k sales per month. Cadillac is also about 35% lease in their current mix while BMW/Mercedes are over 50%. More leases pushed by Cadillac on the ATS…more monthly ‘sales’

        Going to guess that there is going to be quite a bit of marketing/advertising going into the ATS…lets see what sort of traffic and consideration it generates from the general public.

        Its been a rough few years for Cadillac dealerships as far as product goes…nothing really new except the CTS Coupe since fall of 2009. Cadillac dealers have essentially had the CTS and SRX and Escalade (to a much lesser extent.) Lets see what they can do with some fresh product.

        I would bet Cadillac would be happy with the following monthly sales in a couple of years:

        ATS=5000 (with a coupe and a V)
        CTS (next gen)=3000
        XTS=2000
        SRX (refresh coming in 2013MY)=6000
        Escalade (next gen) =1500

        That’s about 17.5k units per month. 8000 ATS/CTS Sales versus the 5000 CTS Sales today…not astronomical expectations.

        BMW (when you exclude Mini) sells about 21k units a month in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I just don’t know man. Most people shopping the segment aren’t headed to the Caddy dealers first. And look at all the new product coming from its competitors:

        Audi- A4 is already 5 years old, but Audi tends to run long cycles. So a new A4 should come around 2014-2015

        BMW- 3 is brand new and excellent

        Infiniti- new G is coming, aiming to be lighter w/more engine choices… I would say maybe as soon as next fall

        Lexus- new IS is coming, based on FR-S platform… actually very excited for this, again should be a thriller, also coming very very soon

        Merc- No news on the C, but W204 is 6 yrs old and C class runs about 7-8 yr cycle. I wouldn’t be surprised if something comes from them in the next 2 yrs

        And then there are all the 2nd tier cars like the Acura, Volvo, etc… Caddy’s got its hands full. Its even worse in the midsize luxury sector with Jag, Lincoln, Hyundai, etc… if Caddy wants volume they can’t work within German architecture, there is no room left in that haus

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        I understand some of your skepticism. The ATS certainly isn’t going to outsell the 3 series. You think Cadillac should go for a moonshot and try to find the next Chrysler 300 in terms of styling.

        The 300 was a flash in the pan and tanked within a year or two. I think Cadillac is far smarter trying to get into the entry luxury segment with a credible car…not a design statement.

        In a way, the 2003 CTS was Cadillac’s ‘300’ moment. They never really built on it and now are trying a different approach almost 10 years later. Dramatic styling only takes you so far. Trends change. A credible car goes a lot further and gives you a chance to rebuild a brand rather than catch a trend. Styling is always subjective, but you have to admit that the ATS isn’t hideous nor is it particularly polarizing.

        I wonder how many people woke up in 2008 or 2009 and looked at their 300 and asked themself ‘what was I thinking’ when they walked into their garage. Given the drop in sales from 140k to today’s level, I’m going to guess quite a few. Then, add in the fact that a large RWD sedan is a dying market in the US (and non-existant elsewhere in the world) and you have to make a choice if you’re Cadillac.

        The ATS will be a profitable entry level luxury vehicle for Cadillac and probably settle into 3rd place. It will help them create a true full line of luxury vehicles that they have not had in awhile. If the new CTS is solid and the XTS does it job, Cadillac has a chance to be credible.

  • avatar

    1/4 inches and 1/4 seconds are distant considerations compared to image. BMW and Audi are aspirational, Cadillac is not. game, set, match.

  • avatar
    vanwestcoaster

    Glad to hear it’s a nice drive; visually, not so exciting – from the side (to me) it’s a dead ringer for the outgoing Ford Fusion model.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I drove one last week.THe nice thing about living in Warren. Someone you know always has new cars before they actually come out. I liked it. A lot. And I usually hate most GM products. It was the turbo 4. I thought drastically better than my fathers CTS. It felt roomier, yet drastically lighter. There is also way more…stuff. The CTS has crap for content. A $15000 Kia has more stuff in it than a CTS. Given that there will killer lease deals on these cars in about 6 months…I would stronger consider one if something should happen to my paid off Altima. Even if the Altima is faster. I bet the V6 ATS might be quite fast however.

  • avatar
    Lynchenstein

    Great review of a nice car. Lincoln: I hope you are taking extensive notes.

  • avatar
    Grahambo

    Michael,

    Great review as always. There is a little ambiguity in my mind though after reading it. My question is — along the lines of the discussion between tjh8402 and carguy above — which car in this class do you think possesses the best steering/overall connectedness. And is it really a case of settling on the least bad from a relatively mediocre lot? You say you would pick the ATS if you were buying in this class, but also suggest that the steering is not that great and “about as good as” the (highly disappointing to me) F30 3 and A4, neither of which I have found impressive enough to make me even consider parting with $40K. In addition, maybe I just got a bad example, the steering in the G37XS feels very artificial/video-gamey to me and disconnected from the (nicely tied down if a bit unforgiving) suspension — does the RWD version feel a ton better? I agree with you that the C Class is much too light for real fun, even though it has a great ride. So is it the case that, in your opinion, one who really values steering/connectness should either no longer look in this entry lux sport sedan segment (at least not for now) or purchase a slightly used/remaining E90?

    Thanks!

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      I didn’t mind the steering on the G37x I test drove. That being said, the RWD one is far more lively. Having had this discussion with Michael once before when he tested the F30, my impression (and as I recall his basic one as well) with the e90 vs G37 was that the BMW was more refined, polished, and easier to drive quickly, but slightly numb. The G is grittier, rougher around the edges, a bit scarier and tricky to drive, but far more visceral and connected to the driver, feeling much more like a machine. Personally, I found the VQ37 to be more refined than the GM 3.6 in the CTS, despite being louder (I liked the noise). The BMW felt like a luxury sports coupe, whereas the G37 felt like what it is, a luxurious 2+2 coupe overlaid on top of a sports car (370z). After driving the two, I decided to pocket the $10k difference and bought an e46 instead.

      • 0 avatar
        Grahambo

        Thanks. Maybe I’ll give the G another chance or maybe it’s just not my cup of tea. Good call on the E46! Great handling/steering cars – leagues more connected and enjoyable than the G I drove (and the F30s). It seems this segment is just going in a direction that isn’t so great. The transition from IS300 to IS250/IS350 was perhaps a sign of things to come for the segment as a whole. Personally I guess I’d prefer it if there was a sport sedan segment shorn of the entry lux pretensions. Subaru and Mazda were there or getting there for a while albeit not with RWD but both now seem to have backed off as well

    • 0 avatar

      The ATS steering might be the best of the current group. I avoided a strong statement in the review because (like everyone else currently reviewing the car) I drove the ATS on unfamiliar roads on a strict schedule with no comparison vehicles. I could tell that the chassis was highly competent, but not how much I might enjoy driving it. The problem might be with the car, or it might be with the circumstances. To get at these subtleties I really need more time in the seat and some comparison vehicles.

      On the E90–I’ve definitely had more fun in the E90 than I managed to have in the ATS. But I also had the E90 on some curvier, more familiar roads. You’ll find quite a few people who prefer the E46 to the E90. A back-to-back drive of the ATS with three generations of the 3-Series would be ideal.

  • avatar
    Joss

    This is a really nice car. Beige interiors not so suited for middle aged hemorrhoids. With any new design the cost of R&D is recouped by early buyers. The best ATS will roll off the line in 3-4 years when production flaws have been ironed out and then be really worthy of the brand name. In the meantime imagine the annoyance of a suspension squeak or rattle and dealer knowledge to source it.

    Still a really nice car.

  • avatar
    WriterParty.com

    Something feels off about it to me. I was shocked when I read the review and you spoke so highly of it, and I will give that it has to be a good car to run neck and neck on a site like this which normally isn’t so forgiving of GM but it just seems inauthentic to me. Like they just Hyundai’d the BMW 3. Like it wouldn’t have it’s own character, the kind that makes you say ‘this is a Cadillac’. BMW (the athlete in an armani suit) has it in spades. The G37, which feels like a roided out Japanese methhead in car form, does too. I feel like an American entry level executive sedan should have some American-ness that stands out about it. No, i am not talking about soft floaty luxobarge handling and ride – more along the lines of Camaro/GTO//G8 but in smaller sedan form. These cars had character for better or worse. Does it have any distinct American character to it?

    • 0 avatar

      You’ll find the most American character with the V6.

      Beyond that, partly due to the light weight and partly due to the handling target the ATS has a more delicate and precise feel than American machinery tends to have. In appearance it’s more clearly American and especially GM, even if the exterior is restrained compared to the CTS. Aeshetically it has more character than a G37 and especially than a Hyundai Genesis sedan (which is what happens when a company truly lacks a clear identity).

      I didn’t have a problem with vibration with the fours. More with sound quality. Their sound wasn’t so much bad as not good.

  • avatar

    I hope Caddy does well. I’m a BMW fanboi but that does not mean that there can’t be a better car. I’m currently borrowing a first gen CTS and it is clearly a “transition” car. The second gen CTS “gets it”, so I’d be fascinated to drive an ATS.

    The four cylinder power thing is not a problem. I drove a 328i and 335i F30 back to back recently. The 328 is quick enough-the 335 is muy rapido. The four does vibrate in a way the sixes never did, and I’m not thrilled with that in a 50K car….I worked my way out of four cylinders (and FWD), and wouldn’t go back. Last year in Germany I drove a 320d for a week, and it too had some 4 cylinder vibration, but for 48 mpg in $10 per gallon land, I’d put up with it. Here, even when our prices spike, it’s not worth it. Give me the six.

    The only part of the new F30 I didn’t like was the steering. Hate to say it (and yes, I can afford a new one) but driving my e46 away from the lot was nicer….OK, my car has Bilsteins and over-maintained suspension, but whoever designed the electric steering in the F30 should be put on power-window duty, or forced to design the automatic sunshades you see in some cars….how could BMW mess THAT up !!!!

    I’ll definitely test drive the ATS, though.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hi speedlaw,

      I also hope the ATS does at least sell moderately well, – – enough to encourage Caddy to be really creative with design, capability, and pricing for its refresh on this thing.

      We used to have an old marketing expression: “If you go up against the Big Boys, you can’t just come on with the mostest; ya’ gotta come on with the bestest of the mostest.” That means that Caddy can’t mount a “me too” effort and really win. It just won’t happen.

      Here is an article from “Autonews” that discusses much the same thing about the ATS:

      http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120723/RETAIL/120729967/1489

      —————–

  • avatar
    alluster

    Looks very classy, especially in lighter colors like white and silver. I hope the ATS becomes a huge hit for Caddy and sells around 5 to 7K a month. Cant wait to test drive the ATS. It reminds of the days when i used to own a 2001 A4. Compact, fully loaded, Turbo and fits like a glove. However, it is very unlikely this car can take over the world. The styling is too american to be taken seriously elsewhere. The Buick Regal GS like styling would stand a better chance in Europe, Asia and South America. I also hope in the future there will be Chevy version based on the Alpha platform (not talking about the Camaro). GM will get my money if they can sell me a Chevy 4 door sedan, with the 2.0T and 6 speed manual, weighing under 3200 pounds and sporty styling for $23,000 or less. Micheal, what color is it in the picture third to last?

    • 0 avatar

      Just silver. I find silver cars easiest to photograph well. Overall I’m not happy with those I took–too much sun most of the day and not enough time.

      Here’s a bunch taken by GM’s hired lenses:

      http://www.atsmediadrive.com/product/public/us/en/ats_launch/photos.html

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    I think BMW’s newer products have put off a lot of people due to their horrible drive-by-wire throttle response issues and overly assisted electronic steering. Quite a few people have told me they’ll never consider a BMW again. I guess that’s one thing Cadillac has going for it, although I’m not sure such problems are unique to BMW…

  • avatar
    hachee

    Chiefmonkey, I agree with you to a certain extent. BMW’s new products, with their turbo 4s and lighter steering, HAVE put some people off, but I really think it’s limited to the enthusiasts – what used to be their core buyers. But BMW’s appeal is so broad today, that I’m really convinced most buyers just don’t care, as long as their bluetooth and the cupholders work. I’ve got a good friend who’s just not that into cars, and who is getting a new 328xi. He just really didn’t care about (or notice) the way the 4 cylinder drove, compared to his current 6. he didn’t see the need to spend any more money and he liked the fuel economy. I think he’s representative of most buyers today.

    And until something either really goes wrong with their products, they’re still going to dominate. I recently drove a new F30 328i (test drive) and a 528xi (loaner) with the 4, and while there’s plenty of power, I just did not like either of them, especially the steering. Like Speedlaw, I got back into my E46 and really preferred it, as I do my X5.

    The ATS of course, has the opposite problem. There’s no doubt Cadillac’s care are improving and that the ATS is quite competitive, but it’ll continue to be a tough climb to overcome the image problems. It seems to me there’s a sweetspot in the market that BMW’s left behind – you’d think someone would try to step in and fill it. But what do I know. I suppose the answer is get a current 1 Series or the last of the E92 coupes.

    • 0 avatar
      chiefmonkey

      I was partly speaking from my own experience with a 328i. Most of the time, it’s an awesome car, but when the drive by wire starts acting up it can REALLY annoy you and make you forget all the good qualities of the car. You’re right also contrary to what many people seem to think BMW’s are quite reliable.

  • avatar
    mountainman

    This car is just plain ugly.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Not to hijack this review and turn into an F30 discussion thread, but I thumbed through a Consumer Reports in line at Wal Mart today…tested the 328 against the C250. They said the BMW was better than the Benz but moving away from its core buyers group, and that they liked the G37 better than either Germans. Also, they got a somewhat impressive 28 mpg combined from the Bimmer. Beats my similarly powerful e46 by 5-6 mpg, not that I would give mine up for the fuel economy. They also complained about the somewhat unrefined nature of the BMW I4. I wish BMW would scrap the 328 and just make it the 320d…if you’re gonna offer an engine with diesel like drive characteristics, at least let me get diesel like fuel economy. I find it interesting that Mazda, Ford, and Audi/VW have all managed to make Turbo DI 4’s that most people find either refined and/or entertaining, but generally pleasing, but neither BMW nor GM have figured out that formula yet.

  • avatar
    bcaulf

    Based on this review, the ATS is the first Cadillac I can recall finding appealing. A faithful GM copy of a 3 series, at about the same price or a bit under, sounds great. RWD, good driver visibility, good steering and transmission feel, and you can get it with a stick and 275 HP at <3500 lb for $35K? That's great. Asking for it to be $10K cheaper is a fantasy. The car would have been made from plastic recycled parts and no one would have noticed its quiet death.

    The bits that matter are well specified: Borg Warner manual tranny, Brembo brakes, ZF power steering, proper paddle shifters–not any tiptronic button nonsense, limited slip differential standard with the stick, and this is at the $35K 2.0T base trim level. The standard 10-speaker sound system looks like all I need. The body parts and servicing will be cheaper than German/Japanese. And I vote with my dollars: if GM really has made a 3 series clone, that's what I have wanted from them for a long time and I need to buy it if I want them to make more.

    American cars have been a joke my whole adult life and I think that's a shame. I would love to be able to buy a domestic sedan with a true German feel. I have enjoyed driving a rental Regal and a Cruze recently and they made me proud compared to some awful Impalas and Malibus of recent years. A reasonably priced American car with genuine performance and feel would be amazing. There are plenty of people with engineering skill and good design taste in this country and we should be able to make well designed products of all types. The USA was the world auto leader once and it could happen again with the restructured GM and new entries like Tesla. I want our nation's industries to succeed and make things that I want to buy. I think that's healthy nationalism. The new Camaro will be based on this same platform and I'm hoping it will be a big improvement from the current, already respectable model.

    The low weight, and what both TTAC and Car And Driver say are superb handling, are far more important to me than rear seats and trunk. Even Top Gear, which never likes an American car, states the ATS beats the 3 series on its own dynamic terms, and praises the 2.0T with the paddle transmission.

    On the negative side the CUE looks poor to my eye and reliability is the big question mark. And like TTAC I would appreciate the option of getting the magnetic suspension without all the high margin options. But even the base 2.0T stick shift configuration looks very satisfying.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hi Bcaulf….

      I enjoy your enthusiasm and hope that the ATS does have some sales success.

      But the ATS manual-transmission issue is getting worse, and that may kill some enthusiast sales:
      1) It is not offered on their 6-cylinder, high-performance version (BMW can spec it on ALL 3-series);
      2) I notice you quoted “Top Gear”. Well, today’s review in “Top Gear”, from Pat Devereux, advises us to stay away from it:

      “Word of caution: do not spec the manual.”

      …… and a commenter (aconfusedazn) on that article said, with typical conservative British style:
      “…according to another review, the manual is not nearly as precise as one would like. ”
      (Translation: It’s a piece of …… well, let’s just be kind and say it isn’t a jeweled masterpiece made by Getrag or ZF.)

      ref: http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/Cadillac-ATS-first-drive-2012-07-23

      So, is this ATS something like the Toyobaru FR-S/BRZ? Close, but no cigar? (^_^)…

      ————–

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I agree with you about the issue of the manual only being available with one engine (albeit the likely most popular) and the issue of bundling FE3 suspension with other stuff. Neither of these are lethal issues since the 2013 model year is Cadillacs first stab at specification/features/pricing. They can e refined easily enough for the 2014 model year. Issues like trunk space, rear seat space etc are not easily fixed.

  • avatar
    Racer8055

    Hello !!!30 years after Mercedes ????

    The Cadillac CTS has had a 5-link rear suspension for like a decade now?

    The ATS is probably a Gen2 version of the 5-link.

    Please edit your comment that shows GM in poor light !!!

    • 0 avatar

      I can find some places that say the CTS has a five-link rear suspension. But GM’s own press materials say:

      “At the rear of the ATS is the first five-link independent suspension in a Cadillac.”

      http://www.atsmediadrive.com/media/us/en/cadillac/vehicles/ats/2013.html.html

      Not a reliable source?

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    These are, after all, “wife cars” for wives who DON’T want to touch an SUV. So, to quote the immortal sage, Bugs Bunny, Esquire: “Why all the hubbub? Bub?”

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    mike978,

    Yup. You’re right. They can always swap out the tranny (and offer the replacement with the other two engine choices), but how would they change trunk volume or back seat space?

    ———-

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Another Cadillac in a long line, that are supposedly “better” than the competition.


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