Preview: 2013 Cadillac ATS reviews car previews luxury cars cadillac
2013 Cadillac ATS. Click image to enlarge

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Cadillac Canada

Article and photos by Grant Yoxon

Detroit, Michigan – Cadillac unveiled an all new compact luxury sports sedan at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) that the company hopes will attract buyers who might normally be more inclined to buy German – as in BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-class.

On paper, the 2013 Cadillac ATS has the attributes to do just that. It has rear wheel drive (AWD available), has a choice of three engines ranging from 200 to 318 hp, tips the scales at just 1,542 kg (3,400 lb.), and has a driver adjustable sport suspension to complement a nearly perfect 50/50 weight balance.

The power options include a standard 200-hp, naturally aspirated 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine, a 3.6L V6 that produces an estimated 318 hp and the new 2.0L turbocharged engine, which debuted in the 2012 Buick Regal GTS. With 270 hp (135 hp/L) and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, it is one of the most power dense engines in the industry.

The ATS will be available in both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive versions, along with a choice of a Tremec M3L TR3160 6-speed manual transmission or a Hydra-Matic 6L45 automatic transmission with six speeds. The Buick Regal GTS is not available with the automatic, so it can be safe to assume that the Cadillac ATS with 2.0-litre turbo will be only available with the manual transmission.

Preview: 2013 Cadillac ATS reviews car previews luxury cars cadillac
2013 Cadillac ATS. Click image to enlarge

A low weight was a goal from the beginning of development – as is evident in some components such as the aluminum hood, magnesium engine mount brackets and natural-fibre door trim panels – but not at the expense of drivability or fuel economy. For example, engineers found they could save more fuel with a cast iron differential than with a lighter aluminum version.

The rear suspension is mostly steel, which helps offset the weight of the engine and transmission at the front of the vehicle giving it a near perfect 50/50 front to rear weight balance. But to achieve the goal of lighter weight without sacrificing handling, Cadillac’s engineers focused on load management and straight links to achieve significant weight savings without using alternate materials. The rear suspension is Cadillac’s first five-link independent rear suspension.

Front suspension is a multi-link double pivot MacPherson-strut design with direct-acting stabilizer bar. Drivers will be able to adjust damping with ATS’s FE3 sport suspension featuring Magnetic Ride Control real-time damping and a mechanical limited-slip differential. The standard FE2 suspension features an open differential. The ATS’ power steering is electric.