Cadillac mulls more body styles for ATS sedan, convertible and wagon planned

Article by Anita Panait, on January 16, 2014

Cadillac has unveiled a coupe version of the ATS sedan at the Detroit Auto Show. However, it won’t be the last variant that will be derived from Cadillac’s compact sedan, as the luxury carmaker has other plans for the vehicle. Cadillac global chief Bob Ferguson vows to make available other body styles for ATS, which includes a convertible and a wagon.

“You've made the investment. You've built a brand within a brand," Ferguson told Automotive News in an interview. "If you have a winner, you should exploit that and offer variations." Cadillac is well expected to offer a V series high-performance ATS sedan that could be unveiled later this year. General Motors, however, remains unclear on the other variants of other ATS.

In 2012, then GM North America President and incoming global product chief Mark Reuss told Automotive News that plans for an ATS convertible were "pretty much designed" but the US carmaker was holding off on a decision. When asked on whether there would be a future ATS variant beyond a V series, Ferguson said: "Absolutely."

Cadillac is positioning its product lineup to better compete against BMW and Mercedes, which offer a variety of products like wagons, convertibles, performance models, diesels and electrified models. Cadillac, however, will focus on a limited number of vehicles and “do them very well," Fergusson said.

In developing the new ATS, Cadillac made sure that the main goal would be to make it the lightest car in the segment. While this was the guiding philosophy in creating this new model, the brand made sure that it would be carried out in a nuanced manner to guarantee that refined driving experience. To optimize the mass of the ATS, the brand applied a four-pronged principle.

For example, it was important to have that strict adherence to the architecture goals originally set. Important as well was to have measured load management all across the vehicle. Cadillac also made it a point to conduct benchmarking components to determine if there were available lighter solutions. Finally, the fourth philosophy was to have an overall culture wherein the mass of each of the vehicle’s component was weighed versus all of the aspects involved in the development.

Since the goal was to lower the overall mass, the hood is composed of aluminum with the engine mount brackets being made of magnesium. Even the door trim panels, which use natural fiber, have been made lightweight as well.

What this all means is that Cadillac was able to employ a systematic approach and evaluated each gram that became part of the car. However, it was not all about lowering the weight given that if the brand believed the weight was important, especially if it played a role in the driving experience, it was retained. Take for instance the decision to use cast iron differential.

While an aluminum version is truly lighter, a cast iron variant was better at enhancing fuel economy. ATS Chief Engineer David Masch said that by having a low weight, the ATS is able to have a more controllable and nimble feel. This also optimizes the powertrains, he continued, especially with the performance and its corresponding efficiency. The brand however, he added, was careful when it came to managing the weight as Cadillac also wanted it to continue boasting levels of refinement it is known for.

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