GM’s Mark Reuss Shows Cadillac “ATS” Teaser

By Chris Haak

For some time, General Motors has seemingly operated under the assumption that its buyers are define the value of their cars by a “by the pound” metric.  The logic appears to be that if a given GM vehicle is a bit large for its class, then consumers will hopefully perceive the GM vehicle as being a better value.  That’s why, for example, the Chevrolet Cruze is almost as big as a midsize car, and has a published curb weight just 97 pounds lighter than the [also big-for-its-class] midsize Hyundai Sonata.

When it came to the Cadillac CTS, the car was initially marketed as a competitor to the BMW 3 Series, but of course, it’s larger and heavier.  It also slots between the 3 and 5 Series in price, and finds itself about the same weight as the 5er, but with less interior room than the F10 5 Series. By virtue of falling between the 3 Series and 5 Series in terms of size and price, it’s not really effectively competing against either car.

Enter the 2013 Cadillac ATS. By building an all-new model that slots below the CTS size- and price-wise, the ATS will be a less awkward competitor to the 3 Series. Instead of attempting to cater to the 3 Series intenders by offering them more car, the ATS (whatever its final name will be – it ma not be called the ATS) will give its buyers a 3 Series size and price and [presumably] more 3 Series-like driving dynamics. At least that’s what Mark Reuss told assembled media and industry folks yesterday – that they benchmarked the best.

Once the ATS enters the lineup, it may become Cadillac’s volume model, since it will presumably be priced lower than the CTS. It will also be uncomfortably close to the CTS in terms of size, since the current CTS straddles two class sizes, and the ATS will sit squarely in the compact-luxury one. That dilemma will be resolved when the third-generation CTS makes its eventual debut, and it moves up to a larger (and more expensive) size similar to the 5er. Don’t fret; CTS pricing has already been moving up far beyond its launch pricing in 2008, so it’s already competing with the 5 Series I some ways.

As for the ATS photo that Reuss showed yesterday – it’s an attractive car with nice proportions (note that long dash-to-axle ratio that only a RWD-based chassis can provide), but it seems to show that Cadillac is running dangerously short of new design ideas. In profile, it seems to show very little difference between itself and the now four year old CTS sedan. The only obvious difference is that the headlights’ trailing edge stretches further rearward than they do on the SRX, the rear overhang (and therefore the trunk) is more abbreviated, and the rear door openings appear to have more curves and perhaps better detailing than on the CTS. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem to deviate much from the Art and Science theme established in the 1990s.

Expect the FWD-based Cadillac XTS to launch in early 2012 (replacing the DTS and STS), while the ATS, whatever its final name, to launch in mid-2012.

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. I personally like the size of the CTS, but I agree with the decision to produce a sports sedan that matches up with the 3-Series. They need a strong player there.

  2. I can’t wait for the ATS V coupe! Should be a blast. HOpefully it will have a fifth gen V8 and a MCT transmission!

    Cool story.

  3. I am looking for car in $35K range and Cadillac with 3.0L is similar (if not less) in price to BMW 328i if include premium options. There is also G25 Journey to consider but it is less competitive and cheaper since no premium options are available. Well it rounds up RWD cars to consider. Acura TSX a.k.a new Buick – sucks, Lexus sucks, MKZ sucks. The only other option may be Buick Regal, but it is less expensive and not as nice alternative even though unlike TSX it has a premium feel. Not sure about VW since they moved mainstream. ATS therefore has to be more luxury than CTS if they are going to charge same MSRP.

    BTW CTS size is perfect – 3-series and G is too small and 5 series is too big.

  4. If the ATS starts below $26K, with the four banger engine, perhaps it is a winner. A V6 around $28K + would be nice. Few will pay the price of a BMW or Mercedes for a GM car — sorry, but that dog won’t hunt. I like the original CTS before the silly fender flares and stuff, but the price around $30K to $32K tops is all it is worth anyway.

    Test drove a Buick Regal. Very smooth and quiet, with average handling. Would be a better value at around $22K though.

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