Remember the Cadillac Cimarron?
You don’t? Good. Because that was Cadillac’s first attempt at a small luxury car for the American market. And it was little more than a rebadged Chevy Cavalier. (For those who don’t know the art of ‘badge engineering' just understand that it's a Very Bad Thing.)
In the meantime, compact luxury cars exploded in the US with seemingly every upwardly mobile “junior executive” (as Hammond calls ‘em) buying a BMW (3-series), Mercedes Benz (C-Class), or Audi (A4) instead of a homegrown Caddy.
Cadillac was being spanked on its own shores. The homeland wasn’t secure.
So maybe all of that changes with today’s introduction of the Cadillac ATS, their first modern 3-series fighter for The America.
Kicking off the Detroit show’s debuts was a local car [Cadillac] wants to tackle the world’s best. The Cadillac ATS, its maker earnestly believes, will finally get the Americans on level terms with the German big three premium makers. It’s is a direct rival to the 3-series, C-class and A4, at least at home in the USA.
The lead engine is a 2.0 turbo four that kicks out 270bhp, kicking sand in the face of even BMW’s brand-new 245bhp 328i engine. Just to prove it’s aimed at people who don’t just waft down the freeway all day, Cadillac even specced a new six-speed manual box as an alternative to the auto that everyone in the US will surely buy, won’t they?
There’s magnetic-fluid adaptive dampers for the suspension. The body is full of fancy light materials, so the base weight undercuts the C-classes and 3-series of this world.
There are no real instruments and few buttons. It’s all reconfigurable displays, and you do most of the switching by touching and sliding your finger on the tablet-style centre screen.
More at TopGear.com
So what do you think? Would you consider one over the new BMW 3 series?
If this needs to be communicated briefly, via Twitter or somesuch, just tell them it’s the best car in its class. Still. Because it is. If you want to go into much depth, begin with increased dimensions (93mm longer, 9mm taller etc) and go on to discuss how the new lower nose design has improved both aerodynamics (0.26Cd for the most air-cheating models) and pedestrian safety.
Of course it’s not a revolutionary leap forward. This is a mainstream car that sells in massive numbers - when it goes on sale in the UK next February it needs to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. We can’t see it alienating many. With the exception of the pointier front end the exterior is entirely fine. Nothing radical, just a good freshen up. Same indoors, too. BMW has been bolder with materials, folding them into more interesting shapes, yet the ergonomics are excellent and the quality and design is fully up to scratch.
If you’re seriously considering this car, do yourself a favor and read the rest at TopGear.com