Cadillac ATS ready to compete with BMW 3-series

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 14, 2011

The new spy photos confirm that the Cadillac ATS will feature an evolved chiseled arts and science styling theme that will enable it to go up against the upcoming BMW 3-series. The car, which features a rear-drive configuration, is set to arrive in showrooms in late 2012. The approval to develop this car was given before General Motors entered bankruptcy.

According to GM management, the car is targeted at 3-series buyers. This model has the rwd configuration and its dimensions and performance specs are similar to the 3 series.

In 2010, BMW sold 100,910 3-series models in the U.S., higher by 11% compared to 2009 sales. The ATS, which will be slotted under the CTS, will be Cadillac's entry-level model. That car is expected to be redesigned in 2013 or 2014. The ATS is considered as one aspect of the reinvention of Cadillac that is set to take place over the next several years. In 2012, Cadillac will also be introducing a new full-sized sedan next year, dubbed the XTS.

The car will feature the front-drive vehicle platform that’s shared with the Buick LaCrosse and several other GM models.

The XTS will also offer the all-wheel drive as standard. In addition, Cadillac is considering a subcompact model that will be based on the three-cylinder Urban Luxury Concept that was seen at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November. It’s expected that the aging Cadillac DTS and slow-selling STS sedans will be discontinued sometime this year.

A basic criterion and guiding principle in developing the Cadillac ATS was making it one of the lightest cars in the segment. However, to ensure a refined driving experience, it was done in a slightly different way. According to ATS chief engineer David Masch, a lighter weight makes the Cadillac ATS more nimble and controllable but at the same time, it optimizes the powertrains’ efficiency and performance.

He adds that they were able to control the weight and maintain the Cadillac’s well-known refinement levels. The company was able to optimize the mass of the Cadillac ATS, thanks to its four-pronged philosophy that consists of strict adherence to architectural goals, evaluating components to check if there are other lighter solutions available and the custom of weighing the mass of each car component against other areas of its development.

The low overall mass of the Cadillac ATS was due to the combination of an aluminum hood, lightweight all-natural fiber door trim panels and magnesium engine mount brackets that reveal the systematic way of evaluation each gram that was added to the car.

However, some of the weight was both beneficial and important to the driving experience. Take for instance the cast iron differential. According to engineers, the fuel economy could be improved by using a cast iron differential instead of a lighter aluminum equivalent.

Though most of the rear suspension is made of steel, the focus on managing load and straight links allowed considerable weight savings without the need for alternative materials. This counterbalances the weight of the transmission and engine of the vehicle’s front part and helps the Cadillac ATS give a nearly perfect 50/50 balance in weight as it also reduces vibration and noise.

This was the same approach used on the wheels, wherein structural aluminum was included to reduce vibration even more. Masch further adds that they approached development by counting the grams in the ATS then reduced them in places where they could make best use of them, wherever they are needed.

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