Cadillac ATS

Seeking Dominance

From the Nürburgring to the Yas Marina circuit, here comes the all-new Cadillac ATS. It's the car that GM, or more particularly Cadillac, has been obsessed in developing to seek dominance over the German luxury automakers. We mean BMW. ATS is the real deal. It is a true compact sports sedan with the size, specs and speed to run with the BMW 3-series. So how was it at the Yas Marina?

Exterior
The 2013 Cadillac ATS interprets Cadillac's Art & Science design language in a new proportion, tailoring the signature styling and refinement cues for the most compact Cadillac while upholding - and advancing - the exemplary attention to detail and technological elements for which the brand is known.

A long, 2,775 mm wheelbase and wide front/rear tracks are the cornerstones of the ATS's firmly planted stance, which is enhanced by short overhangs and taut sheet metal that appears to wrap tightly around the tires. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard on all models.

Bold vertical lighting elements - including new LED front signature lighting detail - as well as illuminating door handles and active grille shutters lend technologically advanced style and function to the ATS. The grille shutters close at certain highway speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag and enhance fuel economy.

High-intensity discharge headlamps with Adaptive Forward Lighting are available on the 3.6 L V-6 engine models.

Interior
A driver-focused interior with integrated technology and crafted materials complements the exterior elements and supports the ATS's driving experience. Everything from the placement of the pedals to the position of the shifter is designed for effortless and intuitive performance driving. Available performance seats have power-adjustable bolsters to optimize lateral support during high-load cornering.

Contributing to the interior's intuitive feel is an instrument panel that wraps into the doors and a center stack in the mid-instrument panel that flows into the center console. LED lighting for the bold gauge cluster enables clear, at-a-glance viewing in all lighting conditions, while ambient lighting accents functional elements of the console and doors.

Real wood, metal plating and carbon fiber trim and Cadillac's cut-and-sew instrument panel, console and doors enhance the emotional connection to the ATS. Choices of many interior color themes, each with unique accent trim material, cover a wide range of flavors - from light, open and warm to black and serious, to bold, technical and sporty.

Additional interior features include: Bluetooth phone connectivity, USB, auxiliary and SD memory card ports, keyless access and keyless push-button start, reconfigurable 5.7-inch instrument panel cluster display, full-color reconfigurable head-up display, leatherette or leather seating surfaces.

A ten-speaker Bose sound system is offered on Premium and Performance Collections while a seven-speaker Bose sound system is standard. A navigation system is also available with Premium and Performance Collection.

CUE - Cadillac User Experience
The ATS is offered with Cadillac CUE (with or without navigation) - a comprehensive, in-vehicle experience that merges intuitive design with auto industry-first controls and commands for information and entertainment data. It is designed to be unique for each consumer, from the "simple user" to the fully connected "super user".

CUE (Cadillac User Experience) pairs entertainment and information data from up to 10 Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices, USBs, SD cards and MP3 players with a vehicle infotainment system that reduces complexity through customized information, voice commands and fewer buttons and larger icons. For example, most of today's luxury cars have around 20 buttons controlling the radio and entertainment functions. CUE has only four.

The heart of CUE is the eight-inch LCD multi-touch sensitive screen, seamlessly integrated into the top of the central instrument panel and a motorized, fully capacitive faceplate at the bottom concealing a 1.8L storage area. The vibrant LCD screen displays CUE's home page, which resembles a smart phone's screen, by using large, easy-to-target icons to execute commands. Capacitive technology refers to using electrodes to sense the conductive properties of objects, such as a finger.

Driving Impressions
Fittingly, I started off in a car equipped with the base entrant in the ATS's three-engine lineup but two actually will make it to our region for the time being. It's a 202-hp, 2.5 liter 4-cylinder that comes with a 6-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. This 4-cylinder may sound like weak, but its power output is quite close to its rivals such as the C250 powered by 201 hp, the A4 2.0T powered by 211 hp, and the Lexus IS250 V6 and powered by 204 hp. Cadillac puts the 2.5 liter's time at 7.5 seconds. It is though acceptable and doesn't feel or sound strained. Indeed, the ATS is quiet in general.

Then I jumped into the largest engine offered. This is the 6-cylinder, Cadillac's 3.6 liter, which is available in the CTS as well. The V6 engine is powered by 321 hp. It dominates the BMW 335i which is powered by 300 hp and in terms of price too, but also the Mercedes C350 which is powered by 302 hp and the Lexus IS350 powered by 306 hp. I tested the ATS around Abu Dhabi's public roads, as said, but I really enjoyed the revs climb sound of the V6 engine. It has plenty of power and linear throttle response.

The ATS was just superb on the track. Again, as out on Abu Dhabi's streets, the V6 felt very much like it could run with its muscles as the speed climbs. The car boasts 50/50 weight distribution and the car proved to be balanced and quick to respond on this challenging tight track, which also features abundance of elevation changes. With the stability control in competition mode, the car can win over in oversteer, but the electronics still keep things on a short leash.

The standard thing that I pretty liked is that the base model, 2.5 liter ATS uses Brembo front brakes. The automatic transmission is near perfection.  It performed well especially when shifting gears downs and ups. But surely sometimes I had to lower my speed to get to the lower gears.

Verdict
The ATS is seeing the dominance starting from its price to its drivetrains. The efforts that were put on the ATS are on balance with the German competitors that have been fixated on for so long. A call to all German automakers: beware the Cadillac ATS is here!

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