The 2012 Detroit Auto Show hosted the world premiere of the Cadillac ATS. The first compact Cadillac joins the midsize segment to take on BMW’s top-seller, the 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Cadillac ATS will be offered with both rear-wheel and all-drive options, and the company describes it at “nimble, fun and quick,” traits typical of a midsize, sport and luxurious car.

Our own Hugo Becker shared his first impressions of the ATS:

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.

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).

It is a different approach than BMW and conforms to Cadillac’s Art & Science approach to design.

As always, BMWBLOG gives you a photo comparison between the two competitors.

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