Can Cadillac’s latest really challenge the Germans?
Ten years after the debut of its first real sports sedan, the 2003 CTS, Cadillac is once again going BMW 3 Series hunting, this time with its all-new 2013 ATS sedan, set to debut at next month at the Detroit show, and go on sale later in 2012.
Briefly: The ATS is Cadillac’s second crack at the highly competitive and highly coveted entry-level sports sedan segment, a class dominated by the 3 Series since Buffy and Chad started dating in the eighties, and also filled with the imported likes of the Audi A4 and Infiniti G37.
Tough crowd, then.
As good as the existing CTS has been, a car that I’ve often considered the most competitive car GM makes, its sized more like a midsize BMW 5 Series. Hence the smaller, more compact ATS, which also debuts an all-new GM rear-wheel-drive platform.
Like the vaunted BMW, the ATS will offer a full menu of powertrains. Already on the books are a 2.5-litre four, a 270 hp turbo 2.0-litre four, and the full-tilt-boogie 318 hp 3.6 six from the bigger CTS, but in a much more nimble and lighter chassis.
Even manual transmissions will be available.
Also like the CTS, Cadillac has returned to Germany’s Nürburgring. Not only to develop the car, but to film a bunch of promotional videos so you also know they developed the car at the Nürburgring.
All very well and good.
But even if the ATS is as good a drive as the 3 Series or the others in this class, can it overcome its Cadillac badge?
Or are buyers who normally pop for imported sports sedans simply too brand-conscious to make the switch?