Cadillac ATS – GM’s BMW 3 Series Fighter

Auto Shows | January 10th, 2012 by 23
2013 Cadillac ATS  750x500

BMW is proud of it’s 3 series. The 3er accounts for 1 out of 3 BMW sales worldwide and has accounted for 50% of all …

BMW is proud of it’s 3 series. The 3er accounts for 1 out of 3 BMW sales worldwide and has accounted for 50% of all US BMW sales since its introduction. And because of its success other premium auto makers have targeted it.

And Cadillac has taken the approach of a direct assault. The new ATS is within fractions of being the same physical size of the F30 3er. It uses a set of four cylinder and one six cylinder engines to power it (V6) and it is available with a manual transmission.

We had a chance to spend a few moments with Tom Prevost, the interior designer of the ATS, on the show floor. The mix of materials in the interior looked good, especially the exposed stitching. They have a good mix of wood, leather and chrome (on real metal – not plastic, the heat transfer when hand touches metal is there), and it looks good.

2013 Cadillac ATS  655x367

While we haven’t had a chance to drive one, the specs read like an F30 3er. Five link rear, MacPherson struts up front, rear wheel drive (optional AWD), and a ZF electric power assisted steering rack (the same basic ZF unit that BMW uses). Weight balance is 50/50 and of course the Nurburgring is evoked when discussing suspension tuning. Oh and Brembo brakes all around.

The four cylinder options include a 2.0L Turbo with 270 HP, the V6 produces 318 HP. An ATS 28i and ATS 35i? The 2.0L Turbo delivers 135 bhp/liter, which is a lot of output per liter of displacement. Cadillac also did its due diligence to save weight using an aluminum hood, magnesium alloy engine mounts and elsewhere throughout the car.

The interior uses premium materials, the stitching details are real (not embossed, as on some premium pretenders). They use real wood and we got a pleasant surprise when we touched the metal trim. It felt cold, meaning it was real metal, not shiny plastic. The seats felt good, but not as firm as BMW’s. The The is a large navigation display in the center stack plus an interesting hideaway cubby hole behind the HVAC controls. You can stash your iPod/MP3 player behind it (there is a USB port at the rear of the compartment).

2013 Cadillac ATS  655x362

Tom Prevost mentioned that the ATS was seeking elegance in both interior and exterior design. He remarked that they are using premium materials and blending them harmoniously in the interior. It’s a sporting elegance (and the car we sat in was equipped the six speed manual gearbox, a Tremec unit).

It is a different approach than BMW and conforms to Cadillac’s Art & Science approach to design. We’ll have to wait to sample one before we pass judgment. But as some wise BMW spokesperson said to BMWBLOG this morning, ‘every time the competition compares itself to BMW, it strengthens the BMW brand.’

23 responses to “Cadillac ATS – GM’s BMW 3 Series Fighter”

  1. Cshenkle says:

    They have literately copied every aspect of the new 3 series. The slope of the hood & trunk (see side view photo), the diagonal cut on the pass side dash, as well as all of the engineering aspects mentioned above. Why are journalists writing about this as if its okay? I mean of course, to an intelligent person its flattering toward BMW, but to the remaining 99.9% of the population, they will see this incredible new cadillac & start to get cocky about how great cadillac is all of the sudden. Most people won’t get it & that actually infuriates me. Its the same with the e60- everyone said it was so ugly when it came out 10 years ago & now- finally, after 10 years, the other posers are starting to shamelessly copy that design. It took them 10 years to do so, and BMW has since moved on with a much better 5 series but have you seen the buick lacrosse or the fat accord?

    BMW needs to stop being flattered, borrow a page from the Apple attorney handbook and start suing everyone in sight. What a bunch of rubbish.

  2. John says:

    Ok so based on iterior material and design quality which is better the F30 or the ATS

  3. BMW13 says:

    Bad timing for Cadillac to launch at the same time as a new 3. They probably will upgrade some existing GM buyers and other domestics as well as possibly steal from Japanese makes due to the life cycle of most of their competitive products. I have owned 13 BMW’s and would never consider a GM product. Give BMW a $60 billion loan and see what product they can come up with. They still live off truck sales and another bad recession or oil embargo and we will loan them another $60 billion. Unless they have an 8 speed transmission or dual clutch option they are alelready behind the 8 ball. If there 270 trubo 4 is related to the Regal Turbo GS with 270 HP that car is a slow pig. I’m willing to bet they will not be competitive on EPA gas milage and will be slower than BMW. GM’s tardemark of sticking a giant V8  into there cars won’t work anymore, heck they can’t fit one in this car so what will they do?

  4. Ricky Calo says:

    No one could build a car to beat the E90 3 series let alone the F30 model. Good luck Cadillac you’re going to need it.

    • John says:

      Motortrend said their benchmark was the E46. While that is a great car, hell I have one, it won’t be even remotely competitive. I would love to know who’s brilliant idea it was to go after a 11 year old model. 

      • Anonymous says:

        I’d take my 2003 ZHP any day over my 2007 335i.  No contest.  The e46 was a better car by far.  

        • Ricky Calo says:

          I feel ya,I used to have a 2004 330i ZHP and it’s my favorite BMW of all time. Just like the E36 M3 it delivered the best driving experience, it’s only issue was lack of LSD.

        • JohnC says:

          I would disagree, having owned both. E90 takes everything good from E46 and adds even more refinement and luxury, also performance. I just loved the NA high-revving N52 engine…but to each his own I guess.

  5. Guest says:

    If the American auto makers could fuse the Caddy performance and interior with the 2013 Ford Fusion exterior, you would have a car worthy of competing with the Germans.

  6. InvincibleM5 says:

    This thing is just too ugly. Even if it managed to be better than the F30, it will only still be available in the US and some part of the world. In that case, the Germans still win… And the interior is still, nothing special unlike the F30’s sexy lines and ergonomics.

    No comments on the rest until tested.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If it delivers BMW driving dynamics at a lower price I’ll give it a look.  So far nobody has delivered that yet.  

  8. Statuskill says:

    Ummmm…dress it up however you want..GM has nothing on BMW AG or Daimler AG….Badge recognition alone will never compare to the Roundel or Star.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Let’s see…better power to weight ratio, better exterior styling, a more technologically advanced interior and Magnetic ride control; all at a presumably lower price. BMW best hope it doesn’t handle as well, or it’s a game changer. 

  10. Blah says:

    LOL…what a joke.  This car has no chance.  They took off the C and added the A in front of TS.  It’s a tad smaller but looks exactly the same.  Come on guys!

  11. Jvtesta says:

    i hope this car is as good as the spec sheet shows. so i can get rid of my wife’s 128i it has been at the dealership more times than any car i have owned (shit box). the 3 series has not evolved at all in the current model and bmw styling of late is beyond boring . they are going 4 turbo which subaru and mitsubishi have perfected 10 years ago. caddy has the right formula but can they execute it. We shall see.

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