Getting inside each vehicle, you’ll be exposed to drastically different styling exercises. Both the ATS and the 328i bring a very premium feel to the table, with beautiful materials throughout. The ATS has acres of soft, stitched, textured leather – the 328i has soft-touch plastics everywhere. The ATS throws in splashes of aluminum, the 328i, my tester in ‘Luxury’ trim, has wood trim bits. Fit and finish was very good in both, and I thought they felt well put together and solid.

The ATS feels tidy – not too big, not too small. I never felt cramped at five-foot-ten frame – but a much taller driver may run out of headroom. The 328i felt bigger and roomier.

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD2013 BMW 328i xDrive
2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD & 2013 BMW 328i xDrive. Click image to enlarge

I really loved the toned-down feel in the ATS – compared to other Cadillacs. It’s tasteful – a handsome, simple, straightforward interior with clean lines. The heated leather seats are fantastic. Not what you might expect in a Cadillac, they offer the perfect harmony of sport and comfort. I also enjoyed the heated steering wheel. It felt great in my hands. Behind it sit gauges and the driver information screen. The left, the centre and the right parts of the screen can be programmed separately to display what you choose.

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD
2013 BMW 328i xDrive
2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD & 2013 BMW 328i xDrive. Click image to enlarge

The centre stack houses Cadillac’s new CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system – it’s handled by an 8-inch touchscreen and manages media, navi, phone, vehicle settings and your back-up camera. It’s a beautiful screen and the user interface is decent. The 10-speaker BOSE sound system sounds spectacular. Below the screen is a smooth panel with soft-touch buttons (with not-so-great haptic feedback) to control the dual-zone, automatic climate control system.

I enjoyed the ATS’ tech. The HUD (Head-Up Display) is fantastic and there’s a front collision and a lane departure warning system. Cadillac has a new way to get your attention with Safety Alert seat pulses. It sounds bizarre and it is at first, but I liked it once I got used to it.

The 328i brings interesting new sculpting to the cabin and it is the most enjoyable 3- Series interior to date. The one thing I wasn’t too fond of was how the huge 8.8-inch widescreen display simply juts out of the dash. The heated, power-adjustable leather seats are very comfortable, and they offer good bolstering as well – a nice combination of comfort and sport. The BMW’s heated steering wheel is also great – it sits in front of BMW’s typical two large gauges, with a trip computer below.

The screen on the dash, while strangely placed, is bright and sharp – it handles phone, navigation, vehicle settings and media functions. The sound system is very, very good. iDrive is used to control it. I’m still not a fan. Below the screen is a set of very basic hard buttons for media control, and a well organized automatic dual-zone climate control system. Driver tech includes blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning as well as front-end collision monitoring. There’s also a rear parking guide, showing you an outline of your car on the screen and where you’re getting close to something.

These cars have keyless entry and push-start ignitions, and powered tilt/slide sunroofs as well. Overall, I found both interiors were generally well thought out and nicely crafted.

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