In a move that has to be considered a good omen for the all-new 2013 Cadillac ATS, men’s lifestyle magazine Esquire recently named the compact sport sedan its 2012 Car of the Year. Per David Granger, the publication’s editor-in-chief: "It's been heartening to watch the American auto industry re-assert itself over the last couple of years. The ATS is an exciting new chapter in that process—a balls-to-the-wall effort at reinvention. It's fantastic."
Granger’s praise is well-earned by the ATS, which certainly seems to represent a breakthrough in terms of Cadillac’s approach to curb weights. As good as some of the division’s recent products have been, they’ve also been plagued by ongoing concerns over poundage. The mind-boggling Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, for example, would probably be able to boggle even more minds if it weren’t for a curb weight in excess of 4,200 lbs. In contrast, the ATS, roughly six inches shorter than that killer coupe, is about 900 lbs. lighter.
And if the Esquire recognition is any kind of clue, that sort of weight loss could lead to some significant gains—in terms of both customers and more kudos—for Cadillac’s entry into the premium compact sedan segment.
“The new ATS is Cadillac’s spirited challenger, built to take on the world,” added Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac Marketing. “Having its design and performance validated in this fashion is a meaningful step in our journey.”
2013 Cadillac ATS: Powertrain Review
By ensuring that the 2013 Cadillac ATS is one of the lightest vehicles in its segment, engineers have ensured it’s one of the best performers, too. The ATS rides on a new architecture that was specifically designed for rear-wheel-drive performance—although the car also can be equipped with AWD for enhanced grip—and it rides on a very sophisticated suspension that represents Cadillac’s first use of a five-link independent rear setup, bolstered by lightweight, high-strength steel.
The setup allows owners to enjoy a nimble and dynamic driving experience regardless of which engine they choose, and there are three in the mix:
The standard powerplant is a 2.5-liter I4 with both direct injection and variable valve timing, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission; the result is 202 hp, 191 lb.-ft. of torque and EPA marks of 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway/26 mpg combined. But because of the car’s trim proportions, it showcases a better hp-to-weight ratio than slightly more powerful (and heavier) rivals like the Audi A4, as well as better fuel-efficiency ratings.
Next up is a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 that brings 272 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque—as well as one of the few manual transmissions available in the luxury segments. (EPA ratings are not yet available for the turbocharged ATS, but if past history is any guide, it should ring up numbers that are quite close to those from the naturally aspirated I4.)
At the top of the line is a 321-hp V6 engine, also with direct injection and variable valve timing, and it turns out 275 lb.-ft. of twist and EPA grades of up to 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway/22 mpg combined. That gives the ATS advantages in both horsepower and fuel efficiency against up-level competitors such as the Lexus IS350.
2013 Cadillac ATS: All That and CUE, Too
Along with its track-tested performance—proven on the twists and turns of Germany’s Nürgburgring—the ATS will boast a full complement of premium gadgetry and customer-satisfying creature comforts. Naturally, that includes the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) interface, which leverages a high-tech, eight-inch touchscreen and cutting-edge voice-recognition abilities to give drivers complete control over a wide range of vehicle systems. According to Cadillac, the bottom line is a much simpler, more intuitive approach to in-car infotainment, assisted by the fact that “most of today’s luxury cars have around 20 buttons controlling the radio and entertainment functions. CUE has only four.”
The ATS also offers a typically extensive roster of tech goodies, including:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Side blind-zone alert
- Lane-departure warning
- A rearview camera with integrated dynamic guidelines
- Adaptive forward lighting
- Bose active noise cancellation and premium audio
- Magnetic Ride Control
- Intelligent brake assist
- Forward collision alert
- Hill Hold/Start Assist (a standard upgrade with the manual transmission)
- An automatic collision-preparation system that pre-charges the ATS’ brakes in advance of possible emergency braking
Priced from $33,095, the 2013 Cadillac ATS is at dealerships now.