2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 Review

2013 Cadillac ATS - Firearms

The Challenge

tCE gets access to Cadillac’s latest models for reviews on occasion and this time we have had the opportunity to drive around in Cadillac’s latest and possibly riskiest model to date, the ATS.

Risky because ATS enters a space in the market dominated by entries such as the Infiniti G, Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class, and the grand-daddy of them all, the BMW 3-Series. This is a segment that was practically invented by BMW decades ago with the 2002 and later expanded with the 3-Series. Before the advent of this class by BMW a sedan with sports car moves just didn’t exist.

In models past, Cadillac has attempted to compete by creating products that live in spaces between the competition’s offerings. The CTS, the first piece of Cadillac’s rebirth, was priced against the 3-Series but was half a size larger. Its larger size and a price-point a size down left Cadillac with a car that buyers didn’t understand if they even thought to check out Cadillac at all. This left the company looking like they were unable to build competitive product or perhaps that GM didn’t have the will to build a car.

Here we are 10 years later, Cadillac has developed credibility their latest products including their world-beating V-Series. However, being a one product company was never going to be enough – and they still had a perception problem with their tweener CTS. How was Cadillac going to take the next step?

That brings us to the ATS. Built on a brand new platform that GM calls ‘Alpha’ that will also serve as a basis for several other GM products (the 3rd generation CTS, next Chevrolet Camaro, as well as a rumored small crossover), it had the rumor-mill churning for years.

In fact, the ATS rumors were probably the most skillful playing of the media GM has ever executed. Go back through our own ATS posts and you’ll see how the rumors were stoked by reports that the ATS was way over-weight, a CEO that reported that the ATS is expected to be ‘competitive’ rather than class leading, and even rumors that the Cadillac team was constantly layering in requirements on the platform that were taking it further and further from its intended targets…all feeding into the press’ penchant for expecting GM to over promise and under deliver.

Which is why everyone was so shocked when the production ATS was announced. Rather than the bloated, under-developed car we might have feared…the ATS sized right on top of the previous generation BMW 3-Series and undercuts practically every car in the segment for weight. Weight is not the only bogey that a car in this class needs to hit, but missing it would have been a serious sign that development went wrong. That weight is also split nicely 50/50 front/rear. So the bones were apparently in place.

Suddenly, our expectations are turned on their ears and we, like everyone else, have been eager to spend some seat-time.

Our tester was an ATS V-6, rear-drive, automatic (the only ATS that gets the manual as an option is the 2.0 turbo which we hope to spend some time with soon), equipped with the Performance Collection.

How does this new Cadillac drive? How does its brand-new infotainment system compare to the earlier offerings that have left us unimpressed?

Stay tuned for further installments in our review coming very soon.