2013 Cadillac ATS to receive torque vectoring system

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 15, 2012

Global Vehicle Line Executive Dave Leone has revealed more details about the 2013 Cadillac ATS, which was launched at the Detroit Auto Show and which made its second public appearance at the Chicago Auto Show. Leone said that sometime in the future, Cadillac will provide a full-blown torque-vectoring system for the ATS in either its rear- or all-wheel-drive configurations.

Torque vectoring won’t be offered when the ATS arrives at showrooms in early summer. Leone said that this is the “next step in (driveline) refinement.” The ATS torque-vectoring is considered to be a “full-blown” arrangement since it won’t be the simpler, pinch-a-brake setup that’s described as torque-vectoring by several automakers.

Rather, Leone said that the ATS differentials could deliver extra torque to an individual rear wheel (or front wheel in the case of AWD models) when necessary. Leone added that Cadillac anticipates that AWD will make up 35-40% of all ATS sales.

He said that all-wheel-drive demand “is very regional.” The AWD system, which is believed to be all-new and not based on the unit presently used for the CTS, is tuned for a default torque split of 70% to the rear wheels and 30% to the fronts.

However, 100% of torque can be apportioned to either axle. All-wheel-drive models are expected to modestly shift the ATS’s BMW-baiting 50-50 front-rear weight distribution. Leone claims that AWD versions of the ATS will have around 52% of the car’s weight on the front wheels. Cadillac hasn’t talked about pricing for the ATS but Leone estimates that it will start from the mid-$30,000 range. He added that the 2013 ATS pricing will be “very competitive” when put up against the 3 Series and Audi A4.

During the development of the Cadillac ATS, the premium carmaker has made it a crucial point to make the compact luxury sedan to one of the lightest competitors in its segment. However, Cadillac made sure to make the ATS as light as needed so it won’t compromise the ride comfort and refined driving experience. The chief engineer for the ATS, David Masch, quipped that with its low weight, the premium car is more nimble and easier to handle.

Masch noted that making the ATS lightweight, it allows it to optimize both the performance and efficiency of its engines. He, however, noted that Cadillac was careful in managing the weight of the ATS to ensure that it still features Cadillac's hallmark levels of refinement.

To optimize the weight of the Cadillac ATS, its engineers adhered to a four-pronged philosophy. First, original architectural goals should be strictly followed; second, load management should be measured throughout the car; third, components should be benchmarked to determine whether lighter solutions were available; fourth , the mass of every component has to be evaluated against all aspects of development.

This philosophy prompted Cadillac to employ components made from lightweight materials. For instance, the hood is made from aluminum the engine mount brackets that are made from magnesium while the door trim panels are made from natural fiber. However, Cadillac has determined that not all parts and components should be made from light materials, since heavy ones could also be beneficial to ensure that the Cadillac ATS delivers the much-sought driving experience.

For instance, the differential made from cast iron has been found to be able to improve fuel economy better than one made from lighter aluminum. In addition, the rear suspension is made from steel, and Cadillac didn’t need to use lighter materials to lower its weight; it just needed to focus on load management and employ straight links.

Thanks to this, Cadillac was able to counteract the weight of the engine and its transmission at the front, thereby helping the ATS achieve a near-perfect 50/50 weight balance. Likewise, using steel suspension on the rear helps lower noise and vibration. Moreover, Cadillac added more aluminum structure on the wheels to further reduce vibration.

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