automotive.comĀ®...where your car search begins

2013 Cadillac ATS Debut

Cadillac aims high with its BMW 3 Series fighter.

2013 Cadillac ATS Research Click to hide

What's New
The 2013 Cadillac ATS is all new, in a couple of ways. First, it is a new vehicle for the brand, and a new nameplate. Second, it has a new target in its sights, one that Cadillac has never seriously tackled: The BMW 3 Series. While half-hearted small Cadillacs have come and gone without fanfare, this is the first time that Cadillac has taken the fight to the Germans, developing its car right in their backyard. From what we've seen so far, it looks as though Caddy is serious about taking on this German standard bearer with a combination of technology, features, and engine choices to rival the class leader.

Who It's For
While the 2013 Cadillac ATS will obviously be sold in the United States, and will target the same group of people that buy BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 sedans, in a way the target is European buyers. Cadillac's former slogan of "Standard of the World" is a claim the GM division would love to make again. But if it can't hold its own in Europe, it would just be so much hot air. With extensive testing on European roads and racetracks, and with significant input from GM's European division, it's obvious that Caddy wants to make inroads in a market where it's currently at best a bit player.

Key Features
With virtually everything about the 2013 ATS brand new, it's hard to narrow it down to a few key features. But here's what stands out:

  • A powerful four-cylinder engine: While the 2013 Cadillac ATS will offer a V-6, we're most curious about the 270-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It's only down 48 hp from the V-6, and offers up nearly as much low-end torque.
  • The other four-cylinder engine: In addition to the turbo, the ATS will also offer up a new2.5-liter four cylinder with 200 hp. This goes head-to-head with the four-cylinder in the Mercedes-Benz C250, for example.
  • CUE: The 2013 ATS will offer up Cadillac's new CUE integrated entertainment/information/integration/navigation system.
  • Interior accommodations: Cadillac has put a lot of work into the ATS's interior, and we're curious if its "cut and sew" philosophy will finally give it an edge in an area where it has struggled.

What We Think
It might be hyperbole to say that this is the most important Cadillac in the past decade. But maybe not. If GM wants its Cadillac brand to be respected worldwide, it must be able to compete without caveats against its German rivals. Taking on the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 is no easy task; just ask Lexus, which has struggled to gain respect with its small IS sedan. With a newly revamped C-Class now hitting the streets, and an all-new 3 Series coming soon, the ATS has its work cut out.

Back to Auto Show Coverage: Detroit 2012