Luxury buyers asked and General Motors answered: The brand-new Cadillac ATS is a true luxury compact sport sedan, smaller than the CTS and specifically designed as an all-American alternative to the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The new kid will be popular among spendthrift fleet buyers. The base model starts at a hair above $33,000 (view GM fleet incentives here) and includes standard features that the class demands, such as premium upholstery, dual-zone climate control, seven-speaker stereo, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, cruise control and more. On the other hand, the standard 2.5-liter powerplant’s 202 horses can’t run with the base rides of the other competitors listed above.
Entering that race would require upgrading to the turbocharged I-4, which delivers 272 horsepower at 260 lb.-ft. of torque, or the 3.6-liter V-6, which delivers 321 horsepower at 275 lb.-ft. Each is mated to Cadillac’s Hydra-Matic 6L45 automatic transmission, while a six-speed manual — an endangered species in the segment — is available for the turbo.
Critics have praised the new car’s dynamic and well-balanced ride, especially when equipped with the two bigger engines. The ATS rides on a multilink, “double-pivot” MacPherson strut suspension up front and, in the rear, Cadillac’s first five-link independent suspension. The goal is to create and maintain a 50/50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles, keeping all four wheels glued to the road through every turn.
True to the Cadillac brand, there is no shortage of luxury items in the ATS among the upper-class Luxury, Performance and Premium editions. Luxury adds the OEM’s CUE infotainment interface, HD radio, rearview camera, run-flat tires, front and rear park assist, leather seats with driver memory and more. The Performance edition leaves the base engine behind and includes all the features listed above plus an upgraded set of “Driver Awareness” safety features, 10-speaker Bose stereo, and upgraded grille and headlights. Selecting Premium trim ups the ante with 18-inch wheels, head-up display, navigation and, with rear-wheel drive, a specially tuned suspension.
Most of the features listed above can be added as standalone options or in groups, so ask your local fleet dealer. And while you’re there, set up some traffic cones and take the ATS for a test drive.