Ever since its “Artwork and Science” rebirth, Cadillac has made it clear it is gunning for BMW. The CTS, and notably the big-stick CTS-V, is the opening salvo. For too lengthy, although, the CTS has been the one product in Cadillac’s portfolio worthy of taking over the Germans, and it wasn’t the undisputed victor. Now, with its all-new 2013 Cadillac ATS, the brand new Customary of the World lastly seems able to tackle the Final Driving Machines.

The ATS was offered as a real BMW 3 Sequence competitor, and was benchmarked in opposition to what Cadillac says is the most effective 3 Sequence ever, the E46. Them’s fightin’ phrases, proper there. Since then, Cadillac’s been working its mouth with Tremendous Bowl commercials, Nurburgring take a look at movies, and extra. Within the meantime, BMW has returned hearth in a really reserved, German approach, by introducing the brand new F30 3 Sequence, which simply trounced the competitors in a current MT comparability (“The Extra Issues Change… “, Might 2012).

The singular query, then, is whether or not Cadillac can again it up. Given Cadillac’s boasting and GM’s basic long-standing however lastly fading behavior of overpromising and under-delivering, I used to be skeptical. That new 3 Sequence is rattling good, and I ought to know — I am assigned to MT’s long-term 328i. Has Cadillac actually performed it?

The reply is sure. The Cadillac ATS is shockingly good. Actually, listed here are the 4 issues I do not like concerning the ATS: the instrument cluster is boring and uninspired; the shift paddles on the steering wheel are too far-off out of your fingertips; the again seat is simply too cramped; and the two.5-liter base engine has no enterprise being in a automobile aimed toward dethroning the three Sequence. That is it. However does that make it higher than the three Sequence?

The ATS actually has its spec sheet proper. Each exterior dimension, from wheelbase to trace widths to size, width, and peak, are inside an inch or much less of the three Sequence. The Cadillac gives each a 270-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to match the 328’s same-size 240-horsepower turbo-four, and a 321-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 to match the 335’s 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six. The ATS gives all the pieces from non-obligatory magnetic shocks to its CUE infotainment system and extra to match BMW’s adjustable shocks and iDrive and the remainder. However does that imply something on the highway?

It does. I drove all three engine variants on stunning and treacherous again roads north of Atlanta, and I used to be greater than stunned. The ATS is clean and composed on tough pavement and thru turns. The trip is appropriately stiff for a automobile with sporting intentions, however by no means harsh or brittle. I used to be most stunned by the usual, non-adjustable suspension, as a result of frankly, I could not really feel a lot of a distinction between the way it and the non-obligatory Magnetic Trip Management suspension rode or dealt with.

And it does deal with, fancy shocks or not. Cadillac claims the ATS weighs as a lot as 160 kilos lower than the final 3 Sequence we examined, however it retains a strong, weighty really feel on the highway. It comes off planted and assured, able to glide by way of corners with ease slightly than assault them with unbridled fury. I am unable to recall what number of instances we have declared that the CTS “ain’t your father’s Caddy,” however the moniker applies equally to the ATS. It is adequate to make you overconfident. Ought to that change into the case, the ATS defaults to progressive understeer, unwilling to place its tail out except you actually do one thing flawed, like put a tire off the highway into some good, comfortable dust.

On the highway or the observe, the ATS imparted a way of steadiness — the engine by no means overdrove the suspension or tires. Steering really feel is superb for an electrical unit and the automobile turns in shortly with a pleasant little bit of weight to it. The Brembo brakes, customary on turbocharged and V-6 fashions, present wonderful, linear stopping energy and resist fade very nicely. GM’s six-speed auto has been tuned up for efficiency obligation and gives upshifts so fast, most individuals can be hard-pressed to inform the distinction between this torque converter auto and a dual-clutch unit. Downshifts, although nonetheless fairly good, are the place the torque converter loses time and a bit composure. The six-speed handbook, accessible solely with the turbo four-cylinder engine, is a really good field with quick, crisp throws with a nice mechanical really feel to them and an easy-to-modulate clutch.

Whereas I drove all three variants on the highway, I used to be solely capable of take a look at the top-shelf V-6. With no correct dragstrip readily available, I used the entrance straight at Street Atlanta the place our trusty VBox recorded a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.1 seconds at 101.6 mph. That is really a bit slower than Cadillac predicted. It mentioned the V-6 ought to do a 5.4 to 60 and 14 flat within the quarter. Apart from the take a look at location, uncommon atmospheric circumstances on the take a look at day could have contributed to the poor consequence. We’ll retest the automobile when one turns into accessible in California to confirm the consequence. The BMW 335, against this, lays down a blistering 4.7-second 60-mph time, although its 300-horsepower score is suspect, contemplating that is 426-horsepower Camaro SS 0-to-60 mph territory. I had much better luck within the braking take a look at, the place the ATS stopped in simply 111 toes from 60 mph, simply two toes longer than the 335. The ATS actually shone on the skidpad, the place it pulled 0.94 g common to the BMW’s 0.90.

The V-6 emits an honest rasp as you lay into it. It is one of many higher 60-degree V-6 sounds on the market, contemplating how exhausting it’s to make that sort of engine sound good. The turbo-four, in the meantime, makes one thing of a comfortable growl that, once more, is agreeable for a four-cylinder. Each engines doled out energy in a pleasant, clean pull to redline, although the V-6 did not really feel all that a lot quicker on the highway than the turbo-four. Cadillac says the turbocharged engine ought to lay down a 5.7-second 60 mph time and a 14.1-second quarter-mile. It expects this would be the volume-selling engine.

Then there’s the two.5-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder. It is not a nasty engine – in reality, it’s totally clean. It simply would not belong in a Cadillac. Energy supply ranges off about midway by way of the throttle pedal’s journey, and whereas it is enough for getting round city, it isn’t notably spectacular (7.5 seconds to 60 mph and mid-15s within the quarter-mile, Cadillac says). The ATS would not want this engine. Not for gross sales, not for advertising and marketing, and never for CAFE. The two.0-liter turbo will get the very same gasoline financial system and prices simply $600 greater than the two.5-liter whereas nonetheless undercutting the 328’s base worth by $1600. All the two.5-liter does is let Cadillac say the ATS begins beneath $34,000, by all of $10. What’s extra, it is solely accessible on the bottom trim ranges and with out the efficiency choices or all-wheel drive. BMW would not provide a stripper mannequin with a weak engine, and neither ought to Cadillac. It is an previous behavior Cadillac picked up from Chevrolet and it must cease if Cadillac desires to play with right now’s huge boys of luxurious. Nobody brags about having the most affordable, least-equipped luxurious automobile on the block.

They might brag, although, about CUE. I hadn’t tried the Cadillac Person Expertise previous to the ATS, and primarily based on Jonny Lieberman’s expertise with the XTS, I used to be ready to be disillusioned. The Cadillac folks inform me that regardless of the vehicles being launched just a few months aside, the ATS includes a newer model of the CUE software program, which the XTS shall be getting retroactively. This capacity to make quick, working modifications is a part of Cadillac’s technique to allow you to replace CUE by merely logging on and downloading the most recent software program to a USB thumb drive, then plugging it into the automobile, slightly than going to the seller. We’ll see how that works out when it really goes on-line, and the way Cadillac’s much more bold plan to sometime make the automobile itself a Wi-Fi hotspot and let it obtain software program updates wirelessly works out when that day comes.

Within the meantime, CUE is superb. It is like having an iPad in your sprint, and anybody snug with an iPhone or Droid will discover it acquainted. The controls are touch-sensitive and customarily fast to react, particularly on the display. Controls on the faceplate, just like the temperature, require a extra deliberate poke to keep away from selecting up each unintended brush, however delays and missed instructions will be irritating. To keep away from glitches, push and maintain, or prepare your self to decelerate and wait half a tick for the slight vibration of the haptic suggestions, signaling that your contact has been acknowledged. Additionally, that you must contact the black above the little metallic accents, not the accents themselves, as that is the place the sensor really is.

On the display, menus are simple to navigate and a few widespread controls fade out when not in use, then pop again up when your hand will get close to the display. The fonts are massive and simple to learn; the graphics crisp and sharp. Transitions between huge apps, like navigation to local weather management, typically have a brief delay, however not worse than I’ve skilled on my iPhone. The pinch/unfold characteristic for zooming the map, although, is achingly gradual in comparison with an iPhone, and the swipe-the-turn-by-turn-to-the-instrument-cluster characteristic is extra bother than it is price. Use the intuitive steering wheel controls to convey it up in one of many three customizable panes within the display under the needles. These are useful not solely as a result of you may see a variety of info directly, however you may enlarge one of many three panes by deciding on it, making it simpler to learn. Or, simply choose the web page within the sharp, full-color head-up show with the knowledge you need. Not solely has Cadillac lastly upgraded its HUD as I have been begging it too, however it’s really outdone BMW by making it extra adjustable and providing extra info.

The ATS’ inside is, compared to its gizmos, pretty reserved. The styling takes no nice probabilities and the gauge cluster is fairly boring to take a look at, however the supplies all through are high-quality and well-assembled. The entrance seats provide a great compromise of consolation and sportiness, although I might do with extra aspect bolstering. The vibrating Security Alert Seat characteristic is a neat trick and far much less irritating than the shrieking beeps different manufacturers make use of to remind you to look at your environment. The rear seat, whereas additionally snug, is one thing of a decent squeeze. At 5’9″, I match comfortably, however simply barely and with out a variety of legroom. The roof is low and the door opening is decrease, making it really feel claustrophobic and requiring some critical head-ducking to get out and in. Outward visibility is sweet in all instructions besides again as a result of excessive trunk.

In all, then, the brand new Cadillac ATS is a really, superb automobile. However is it higher than the three Sequence? The trustworthy reply is…I do not know but. Regardless of driving them lower than 24 hours aside, I simply can’t say with out driving them immediately back-to-back. Each vehicles trip, drive, and deal with exceptionally nicely, provide a deluge of expertise and sport top-notch supplies and construct high quality. To say that the ATS is pretty much as good as 3 Sequence is a grand praise by itself, however figuring out which automobile is healthier should await the inevitable comparability take a look at. It is gonna be a nail-biter.

2013 CADILLAC ATS
BASE PRICE $42,090
PRICE AS TESTED $48,190
VEHICLE LAYOUT Entrance engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 3.6L/321-hp/275-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automated
CURB WEIGHT 3461 lb (mfr est)
WHEELBASE 109.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.8 x 71.1 x 55.9 in
0-60 MPH 5.7 sec
QUARTER MILE 14.1 sec @ 101.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 111 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.94 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 19/28 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 177/120 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.87 lb/mile (est)

Shiny Facet Down: My Unlucky Roll within the ATS

Yeah, it was me. I am the man who put a Cadillac ATS on its roof in the course of the press preview. Here is the way it occurred:

The flip was a downhill S-turn, a sweeping left right into a sweeping proper. The velocity restrict on Georgia’s Route 136 is 55 mph, and whereas I wasn’t wanting on the speedometer on the time of the accident, I hadn’t been driving recklessly and stability management was on.

My mistake was misjudging the nook. It was un-posted and tighter than I assumed and I did not brake fairly as a lot as I ought to have. Because of this, I tracked broad on the exit and was left with a alternative: tighten the road proper earlier than making a pointy proper flip and threat upsetting the automobile that approach, or let it run a bit broad onto the shoulder after which try to softly drive again onto the highway. I selected the second choice.

With the pavement ending on the white line, driving onto the shoulder meant into the dust, which was far softer than I assumed (the tracks had been a number of inches deep). The automobile instantly turned sideways, and whereas I counter-steered, the automobile was sliding at a 90-degree angle throughout the highway. Fortunately, there was no oncoming site visitors. We slid sideways onto the other shoulder. If we might stopped three toes shorter, you in all probability would not be studying this. I bear in mind hoping to myself that the automobile would not get caught within the dust and should be pulled out.

Because it occurred, our momentum carried us simply far sufficient for the nostril of the automobile to go off the hill. As soon as it did, gravity took over and the remainder of the automobile slowly adopted. It was the least-violent or thrilling rollover you’d ever seen. It slowly tipped onto its aspect, then onto the roof and slid a couple of toes down the hill earlier than coming to relaxation in opposition to a tree. Apart from my ego, there was no damage in any respect to me or my passenger. Two Georgia State Troopers and a Dawson’s County Sheriff’s Deputy discovered my report credible sufficient to let me off with only a good shaming.

Why am I certified, then, to jot down this evaluate? As a result of the automobile was not accountable. I firmly imagine that the very same accident might have occurred no matter what automobile I used to be driving. Expertise behind the wheel of the ATS on the observe and on the highway, earlier than and after the accident, confirmed it to be a assured, impartial handler not susceptible to wild oversteer. Misjudging the nook was my mistake and it ended poorly to say the least. I am unable to blame the automobile for that.