Cadillac ATS 2013-Present
Cadillac needed a big change. What was once the “Mark of Excellence” in automobile production was viewed by many as an old-tech car for geriatrics. With a reputation in tatters Cadillac needed a complete overhaul from top to bottom. By 2003 a whole new look and car-building philosophy based on what Cadillac called “Art and Science” design and engineering was launched to transform Cadillac. Aggressively targeting the European imports like Mercedes and BMW, Cadillac attempted to offer a cheaper yet better alternative. That first new model was dubbed “CTS.” The first generation of the CTS lasted through 2007, then a larger model debuted in 2008. By 2011 a coupe was added to the line that included a sedan and wagon.
As Cadillac’s CTS increased in size, they slowly abandoned the smaller luxury sedan market leaving the door open for the creation of the ATS. Planned to compete with the BMW-3 series/Mercedes C-Class market, the ATS is based on the 109.3-inch wheelbase Alpha platform. With this in mind GM engineers developed the ATS with excellent handling and performance as a prerequisite.
The ATS was available starting with a 2.5-Liter four-cylinder engine rated at 202hp, with a turbocharger option increasing output to 272hp, and the top engine option being a V6 rated at 321hp. A long wheel base ATS dubbed ATS-L was built for the Chinese market in 2014, and an ATS coupe made its debut in 2015. A performance variant is available called ATS-V.
A jury consisting of top automotive journalists awarded the 2013 ATS the “North American Car of the Year.” Esquire, Popular Mechanics, and the Motor Press Guild also named it “Car of the Year.” In a test against a BMW M3 and Mercedes AMG C63-S, Motor Trend found the ATS-V outperformed in acceleration, stopping, and in timed laps around the Willow Springs race track.
In 2016 an eight-speed automatic transmission replaced the six-speed, to further decrease emissions and raise fuel economy. A turbocharger option was added to the V6 in 2016.
While over 38,000 ATS sedans were built in 2013, by 2017 production had tanked to barely 13.000 units, and then only 7,747 units in 2018 resulting in discontinuance of the ATS sedan, with only the coupe making it to 2019. As consumers embrace cross-overs and trucks, many American manufactures are abandoning sedan production, yet Cadillac has stated they plan on offering both a new CTS and XTS sedan by 2020.