Test Drive: 2013 Cadillac ATS Compact Luxury Sedan

2013 Cadillac ATS - Back?Cadillac?s 2013 ATS: Finally a compact sedan that works?

Move over Euro sport sedans

2013 Cadillac ATSAtlanta, GA.- The Cadillac team doesn?t really like to be reminded of past forays into the small car market, but there were a couple of serious mistakes made, such as the Cimarron sedan that appeared in 1981 and that shared a platform with Chevy?s Cavalier. Cadillac?s share of the market fell off some 40 percent from the Cimarron?s introduction until the appearance of the Catera (billed as the Caddy that zigged) in 1997. The Catera was really a mid-sized sedan based on Opel architecture.

The CTS finally came along and launched the beginning of Cadillac?s resurgence in the luxury marketplace. Still, the CTS and its variants were mid-sized, rather than compact.

Enter the all-new 2013 Cadillac ATS, a true compact luxury sedan that is positioned to do battle with the likes of BMW?s 3-Series, the Lexus IS lineup and the C-Class stable from Mercedes-Benz. The compact category represents the largest sales volume globally for luxury autos.

2013 Cadillac ATS - From BottomAt first glance, the new ATS may appear to be nothing more than a smaller CTS, since both share the same DNA, but that?s not the case at all. The ATS is its own vehicle – the most significant Cadillac to be launched since the first CTS. It showcases new technologies along with a high performance driving experience. It is quick, nimble and fun to drive. It is nine inches shorter than its CTS sibling and weighs in at 545 pounds less. The ATS rides on a 109.3-inch wheelbase and measures 182.3-inches in overall length.

2013 Cadillac ATS - Passenger ShellThe 2013 Cadillac ATS offers three engine choices, two transmission choices and will be available in a collection of four trim levels: Standard; Luxury; Performance; and Premium. There are other choices to be made as well, such as Rear-Wheel or All-Wheel Drive, suspension packages, Wheel design, exterior color and interior trim.

2013 Cadillac ATS - Engine CompartmentEngine choices consist of two new four-cylinders: a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers 202 horsepower; an available 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder cranks out an impressive 272 horses; and a proven, available 3.6-liter V-6 generates 321 horsepower. All of the engines feature direct injection and dual overhead camshafts with continuously variable valve timing, which combine to?optimize power and efficiency, along with reducing emissions. The engines are matched with six-speed transmissions, including the Hydra-Matic 6L45 automatic with tap-shift control, and a six-speed manual available only with the turbo engine.

2013 Cadillac ATS - WheelsThe ATS is scheduled to go on sale in August and pricing will range from $33,990 for the standard 2.5-liter model to $47,590. The 2.0-liter turbo will start at $33,795, with the 3.6-liter V6 beginning at $42,090. All prices are inclusive of the Destination and Handling charge. Opting for the Sport level adds sport seats up front and magnesium paddle shifters, while the Premium level includes navigation and FE3 Sport Suspension.

During the national press launch, my driving partner and I were able to sample a representation of the complete lineup. We started our journey in a Luxury trim model powered by the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with the six-speed automatic, in an AWD configuration. It sported a Crystal Red exterior complemented by a Light Platinum interior with Jet Black accents and Sapele Wood trim. The base sticker read $41,395, which rose to $47,325 after factoring in the Navigation and Surround Sound Package, Cold Weather Package, Driver Awareness Package, Advanced Security Package, Sunroof and Destination charge. We next piloted a 2.5-liter, automatic, RWD version in Luxury trim sprayed Glacier Blue metallic that topped out at $39,085. Our drive finished off with a RWD 2.0-liter turbo, automatic,? Opulent Blue ATS in Performance trim with a window sticker totaling $44,185.

SUMMARY:? Our drive route took us on a 110 mile trip from downtown Atlanta to the new 1.8-mile, 14 turn Atlanta Motorsports Park, where we were afforded the opportunity to experience the 2.0-liter turbo manual RWD and 3.6-liter AWD auto on the challenging and technical track and then back to Atlanta.

The ATS displays exceptional 50/50 weight distribution front to rear, balance and stability, both on the road and on the track, which featured several elevation changes, blind turns, as well as decreasing radius and reverse camber turns.

I was not a big fan of the 2.5-liter ATS as it was noisy and seemed overworked in a high performance scenario – not really Cadillac-like. My on road choice was the 2.0-liter turbo AWD automatic with tap shift feature, and while I also enjoyed the 2.0-liter turbo manual RWD on the track, my pick for the track was without question the 3.6-liter AWD automatic. It was possible to circuit the track I third gear with the manual, and to operate the 3.6-liter auto in drive, ignoring the paddle shifters. The automatic delivered downshift rev matching when braking hard. The Magnetic Ride Control was phenomenal – able to read the surface and provide instantaneous damping adjustments. Everything worked well including Cadillac?s first five-link independent rear suspension, multi-link, double-pivot MacPherson-strut front suspension with direct-acting stabilizer bar, the Driver-adjustable FE3 sport suspension with MRC, the Premium electric variable-effort steering gear by ZF Steering Systems and four-channel ABS with available Brembo performance brakes.

The ATS is a real car to be driven by enthusiasts (or not). Smoke into a corner too hot and brake to correct, and you?ll likely encounter understeer. Nailing the throttle too aggressively on exit and the rear is quite capable of breaking loose. All fun stuff if in control, but not optimum situations for the best lap times.

In the looks department, the ATS is both sleek and sexy. The aerodynamics are enhanced by underbody sheathing. The split dual exhaust tips set in the rear diffuser hint at the cars performance prowess. The proportions are dictated by Cadillac?s ?Art and Science? philosophy and work well for a pleasing visual balance. Angles, creases and character lines come across more conservatively than the first CTS without losing any appeal.

2013 Cadillac ATS - InteriorMoving to the inside, the ATS?s interior is inviting, luxurious and comfortable. Cue, (Cadillac?s User Experience) is the focal point of the IP with a large screen and larger, more intuitive controls and utilizing the first automotive use of capacitive touch technology in an automobile – quite similar to an iPad.

2013 Cadillac ATS - DashIn the final analysis, the four-passenger, four-door 2013 Cadillac compact luxury sedan is ready to take names and seriously kick some European booty. If there is any downside at all, with a long-legged 6?4? driver, the occupancy is diluted to three by. Not a bad thing at all, mind you as it keeps the weight down.

SPECIFICATIONS: Cadillac ATS Luxury Sedan-?13

Base Price: $41,395
Price as Tested: $47,325
Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve turbocharged inline four-cylinder with Direct Injection and Variable Valve Timing
Horsepower (bhp): 272 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 260 @ 1,700-5,500 rpm
Transmission: Electronically controlled Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic with tap-shift control
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / All-Wheel Drive
Suspension: FE2 Sport suspension

Front – MacPherson-type with dual lower ball joints, twin-tube struts and direct-acting stabilizer bar.

Rear – Independent five-link with twin-tube shock absorbers

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel vented Brembo discs with fixed calipers, four-channel ABS and TCS with DRP
Tires: Michelin Primacy 225/40 R18 92V run-flat- all-season mounted on 18×8? polished 9-spoke alloy wheels
Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
Length Overall: 182.8 inches
Width: 71.1 inches
Height: 55.9 inches
Curb Weight: 3,542.8 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 18.0 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 22 mpg city / 32 mpg highway RWD not yet certified (expect roughly 1 mpg less for AWD)
Drag Coefficient: 0.299 for 3.6-liter RWD model
0 – 60 mph: 5.7 seconds