The EPA has delivered the fuel economy results for the 2013 Cadillac ATS with the 2.5-liter, 4 cylinder: 22 city, 33 highway, 26 combined. The response so far range from 'That's not what we expected' to 'Well, what did you expect?' Cadillac describes the ATS as a "compact luxury sedan... built on a foundation of quick, nimble fun-to-drive dynamics and mass efficiency," so everyone is ready to grade on the sports-sedan curve, and while we think taken on their own they're fine if nothing special, some were expecting better frugality from the Ecotec motor.
The issue is that the EPA numbers for the 2.5-liter put the ATS in the thick of the playing field, in there with the 23 city/33 hwy of the BMW 328i, the 21 city/31 hwy of the Mercedes-Benz C250 Sport Sedan and the 22 city/30 hwy of the front-wheel drive Audi A4. But the Cadillac's 202-horsepower and 190 pound-feet mean it is down on power to the other cars in its class – 38 hp shy of the BMW, 39 lb-ft down on the Mercedes-Benz, for instance – at the same time, it is less expensive than the BMW and Mercedes.
Motor Trend reports that General Motors predicts 22 city/32 hwy for the more powerful 2.0-liter turbo that puts out 270 hp and 260 lb-ft, the same as it did for the 2.5-liter, and that's what could make for the biggest question mark. The 2.0-liter would give the ATS a leg up on others in its class – it's not for nothing that the ATS site uses this motor for comparison – and the $1,805 premium over an ATS with the 2.5-liter pegs it exactly to the 328i's $35,795 base price. If the stronger engine does return the same EPA numbers, then until we have a better idea of standard equipment, lots of folks will wonder whether $1,900 is enough monetary space to make a case for a markedly less powerful car that won't save you any money on gas.
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__________________ In the Family's Collective Garage:
2006 GS300 & 2007 GX470
This is still going to be one heck of a vehicle. 2.5L I4, 2.0T I4, 3.6L V6, and whatever the V may be. Auto or manual. RWD or AWD. Magnetic ride control, and one of the lightest in class. Can't wait to see the comparo's
Let's face it: The BMW 3 Series is more vulnerable now than it has been in over 2 decades. The poster child of the sports sedan community is currently in the throes of some unpleasant growing pains as it tries to balance efficiency, mass-market appeal and the machine's impressive heritage. Though lighter than its predecessor, the F30 feels heavier from behind the wheel, thanks in part to suspension tuning designed to coddle first and satisfy second. The German wunderkind is larger in every direction with more interior room. But with one surprisingly noisy cabin and a polarizing exterior design, the mighty 3 is in danger of alienating the very audience that made it king.
None of this is news to Cadillac. The overlords at General Motors have been quietly working to carve out a corner of the compact luxury segment for over 5 years. In that time, a horde of engineers bent under the pressure of constructing a clean-sheet design intended to give hardware like the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Infiniti G line and yes, even the BMW 3 Series something to sweat over.
The fruit of those efforts is the 2013 Cadillac ATS – a front-engine, rear-wheel drive sedan with all of the lusty lines of the larger CTS. Light-weight, properly balanced and loaded with some of the best connectivity tech in the industry, GM has something to be proud of here, but the ATS may not be the Nurburgring-conquering, 3 Series-slaying white knight we've all been hoping for.
Ask David Masch, the chief engineer behind the ATS, why he sees this sedan as significant, and he'll cut straight to the chase. Masch says the compact luxury segment is the most important market for any automaker that wants to engage the well-monied brands of the world. Models in this class fall into a certain sweet spot that's unlike anything else in the automotive industry, serving as a catchall for buyers moving up to a luxury purchase for the first time and those stepping down from a more expensive model for something a little more engaging to drive. Masch fully expects the ATS to serve as the volume model for Cadillac moving forward, out pacing the SRX and even the CTS family in short time.
Take 1 glance at the ATS exterior, and Masch's goals don't seem all that far fetched. The newest addition to the Cadillac fleet was penned in part by Brian Smith. If you don't know the gentleman's name, you likely know his work. Over the years, Smith has dotted his resume with heart-stopping projects like the Cadillac Converj and 16 Concepts, and the ATS benefits from many of the same design elements found on those creations. Up front, every trim level wears dramatic LED light elements that stretch from the top of the fender to the bottom of the head lamp array. Vertical LED fog lamps continue the line visually, lending the sedan a striking face that appears taller and more proud than it actually is. With an incredibly short overhang and relatively long hood, complete with its own mini "power bulge," the ATS can't help but look poised and brawny in the flesh.
That impression gets carried to the side thanks to a slightly wider rear track and quietly bulging rear fenders. Around the back, the ATS borrows heavily from the CTS with vertical LED tail lamps and a wide third brake element integrated into the rear spoiler. While the base model, equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, is forced to make do with an awkward-looking single exhaust outlet, turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder models and those blessed with a 3.6-liter V6 come equipped with large-diameter dual exhaust.
Indoors, buyers can have their ATS in a number of color combinations, from plain black on black to red leather with carbon-fiber trim work. The somewhat less mental tones of our tester served up a quietly attractive cabin. Comfortable leather seats with adjustable side bolsters and a small-diameter leather-wrapped steering wheel give the impression this is a car that wants to hustle. Higher trims equipped with either the forced-induction 4 or the V6 and a 6-speed automatic transmission boast some of the best paddle shifters we've ever put to our finger tips. Hammered from chrome-plated magnesium, the pieces are impossibly solid and reward the driver with an addictive metallic clink that could be at home in the firing mechanism of our favorite Ruger.
But the cabin's center piece has to be the new Cue infotainment system. Cadillac ditched the company's tired touch screen interface for an all new system with multiple tiers of interaction. When the car is off, the center stack appears as 1 solid black piece of trim work. Hit the start button, and the acrylic touch screen illuminates, as do the touch-capacitive climate controls below. That's a handy trick, but it's certainly nothing new. The Ford Edge Sport has offered similar eye candy for a good while now, but the Cue system rolls in additional functionality borrowed from our favorite handheld devices. Leave the screen be, and it will default to a simplified lock screen to reduce distraction. Simply wave your hand in front of the display, and the various menu options appear on command.
Pairing even our ancient smart phone to the car was simple, quick and beautifully straight forward, but our favorite aspect of CUE has to be the voice command system. We don't need to expound on just how wrong voice-activated tech can go. Perhaps the best compliment we can pay the Cadillac team is to say the Cue system simply works. Press the steering-wheel-mounted button, tell the car to play a song or call a contact and it does its job, simple as that. The commands themselves are remarkably intuitive and flexible, meaning the driver doesn't have to learn some special sequence just to get the machine to switch radio stations.
According to Cody Hansen, Cue Interaction Designer, much of that functionality stems from the fact that Cadillac didn't force the command structure to operate every system on the vehicle. By limiting the voice command architecture to hands-free calling and audio, engineers decreased the odds of Cue getting confused by what the user says.
Space-wise, the ATS lands smack in the middle of its competitors. While the 3 Series delivers slightly more head room, the Cadillac takes the crown in overall leg room up front, though the Infiniti G37 Sedan walks away with both categories by slim margins. The Audi A4, by comparison offers 1.2 fewer inches of front leg room than the ATS but makes up the difference with 1.7 more inches of rear leg room.
And then there's what's under the hood. General Motors lent the base Cadillac ATS a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 202 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque. If those numbers seem slight, even for a 3,315-pound sedan, they should. Buyers may only have the base engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and those delicious paddle shifters we love so much are nowhere to be seen. While the gearbox does its best to keep the engine livable, the unfortunate truth is this powerplant has no business being anywhere near the Cadillac line. The naturally aspirated 4-cylinder idles smoothly enough, though that's thanks largely to some cleverness in the engine mounts.
Cadillac uses a new vacuum-actuated hydraulic engine mount system on the ATS. Depending on engine speed, vacuum draws on a small diaphragm inside the mount itself, which in turn acts on the fluid inside. At idle, the mounts soften up to soak up as much thrash as possible. The faster the rpm, and thereby the more vacuum on hand, the stiffer the mount. But a smooth idle is hardly enough to give the 2.5 reason to lie behind the crest on the grille. When equipped with the 2.5, the ATS delivers acceleration that is absolutely unacceptable for this class. As hard as Cadillac continues to fight to establish itself as a serious player in global luxury, this engine is a setback.
Fortunately, buyers don't have to suffice with just 1 engine option. The 2013 Cadillac ATS is also available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 272 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Those are solid numbers, and enough to shuttle the machine to 60 mph in a very respectable 5.7 seconds. Power gets put to the rear wheels by either a Tremec 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is also available, though only with the automatic. If that's not enough grunt for you, the ATS also bows with the same 3.6-liter V6 found elsewhere in the GM stable. Expect to find 321 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque on hand, dumped to either the rear or all wheels through the 6-speed automatic transmission. There is no manual option for the V6.
There is an astonishing amount of engineering under the belly of the ATS, all designed to even out weight distribution and keep as many pounds off as possible. The sedan uses an aluminum engine cradle and transmission crossmember in place of stamped steel, and engineers worked to balance the sedan's pounds at every turn. As a result, the ATS benefits from a 50/50 weight distribution.
A unique MacPherson strut suspension works to keep the ATS planted up front. Cadillac opted for a double-pivot design that utilizes 2 ball joints in place of a traditional wishbone. The manufacturer says the set up allows for a better balance between precise handling and a comfortable ride. Out back, the new sedan uses the automaker's 1st-ever 5-link independent rear suspension, complete with a rigid steel cradle. Interestingly enough, engineers opted for a cast-iron rear differential instead of a lighter aluminum chunk. According to Chris Berube, lead development engineer on the ATS, cast iron offers a number of benefits over aluminum. Chief among those is the fact that aluminum expands and contracts to a greater degree with changes in temperature. Opting for the cast iron design allowed engineers to run tighter bearing tolerances, which resulted in better fuel economy, less lash and better throttle response.
The ATS borrowed a page from the mighty CTS-V by using unequal-diameter half-shafts in the rear axle to reduce wheel hop. Having a lighter axle on 1 side than the other results in the kind of oscillation that engages the vehicle's mechanical rear differential under hard acceleration, resulting in a positive launch.
Once you're done sprinting to 60, the ATS can confidently bring you down from speed. Brembo brakes are standard on every model with the exception of the base ATS. With 12.5-inch corrosion-resistant vented rotors up front and 12.4-inch vented discs out back, the stoppers can haul the sedan down from 60 mph in 129 feet. Not too shabby.
The result of all this engineering is an unquestionably remarkable chassis. We were fortunate enough to sample nearly every drivetrain configuration on public roads outside of Atlanta, and while the 2.5 delivers quiet highway cruising, it simply feels winded everywhere else. The complete lack of acceptable acceleration makes it clear you're driving a price point model despite the 6-speed automatic transmission's best efforts and the nicely executed cabin. Here is a car desperately hunting for a better engine.
Even without the optional Brembo brakes, the base model offers a confident pedal paired with an excellently-balanced and rigid chassis. Under hard driving, the ATS pushes into a little understeer before gradually giving way to easy oversteer. Fortunately, the vast majority of buyers will find their way into models equipped with the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, complete with its 272 horsepower.
All that muscle comes on at 5,500 rpm, which means drivers need to be comfortable ringing the car's neck in order to access maximum thrust. Fortunately, the full 260 lb-ft of torque piles on from as low as 1,700 rpm, which helps get the machine to the upper octaves. We fully expected the turbo 4-cylinder to be the sweet spot in the ATS line, and while it feels properly quick, the engine still lacks the buttery refinement of offerings from Audi or BMW. Fortunately, what the engine lacks, the 6-speed automatic more than makes up for. Left to its own devices, the gearbox quietly and confidently puts the engine where it needs to be in the rev band without any drama or fuss.
Click those fancy paddle shifters, however, and the ATS rewards you with impressively fast shifts. How fast? GM says the action is on par with that of most dual-clutch units, and we're prone to agree. Snap back that paddle and the transmission will do the deed nearly before you can release it. That's good enough to hustle the ATS through its gears down a mountain road, and Cadillac was sure to allow the driver to run the engine all the way up against the limiter should you so desire. That's not to say all is right in the automatic kingdom. Cadillac seems very proud of the machine's Sport Mode, which incorporates a system to detect steering angle and g load to tell the transmission when to offer more rapid downshifts and when to hold gears longer out of a corner.
The system would be right at home on a track. Unfortunately, we expect exactly zero ATS owners to use the machine as their weekend apex clipper. On the street, Sport Mode simply devolves into a button to make the transmission worse. The overly sensitive programming will kick down a gear and hold it on mild freeway onramps, sticking the transmission in third or 4th gear and keeping it there long enough for us to wonder if we've broken something. In the end, it does exactly what shift logic shouldn't do: make the driver aware of the transmission.
Throw all-wheel drive into the equation and the ATS feels a bit heavier but no less poised. That initial understeer is a bit more pronounced, though we doubt most consumers will notice or care. Blindfold us, stick us behind the wheel and hold on and we'd be hard pressed to accurately discern between the 2 drivetrains. Then there's the Tremec 6-speed manual. Unfortunately, we only got to sample the row-your own gearbox on the track, where its gearing, soft throw and vague clutch felt out of context. We'll wait for more time on public streets before we throw down a final opinion.
If there's a powertrain in the ATS stable that feels becoming of the Cadillac name, it's the 3.6-liter V6 and 6-speed automatic. While the 6-cylinder engine doesn't offer all that much more torque than the 4-cylinder, the ready horsepower changes the ATS from high strung to more confident. That's true for driving on both public streets and the track. Technically, V6 models weigh in at just 88 pounds more than their turbo 4 brethren, and we were hard pressed to discern any difference in handling between the two.
The Environmental Protection Agency hasn't officially released fuel economy figures for the ATS just yet, though GM estimates the 2.5-liter engine to be good for 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway on regular fuel. The turbocharged 2.0-liter, meanwhile, should post identical numbers in rear-wheel drive guise when equipped with an automatic gearbox, and the V6 should yield 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS starts at $33,990, though that figure will only buy you a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. With no fuel-economy benefit over the turbocharged 2.0-liter and a hefty performance penalty, there really is no reason to opt for the base ATS. Choosing the more powerful 4-cylinder will set you back $35,795, including destination, though we feel the ATS to own is the more potent 3.6-liter V6. Unfortunately, this is where the trouble starts. At $42,290, the V6 ATS is within $895 of its larger brother, the CTS sedan. Throw in a $1,295 Navigation and Surround Sound package, a $600 Cold Weather package, a $395 Advanced Security package and an $845 Driver Awareness package with lane departure warning and you have our $47,325 tester.
That's a fat stack of dollar bills, and while the ATS is nicely appointed, we have to feel sorry for the salesman trying to push this V6 model over the bigger CTS. Fortunately, there is enough breathing room between the turbo 4-cylinder and its larger brother to make a sales case, and Cadillac has made it clear the 2.0-liter will be the company's volume mover. That may be true, but it's also the model that feels decidedly less premium.
Let's be clear: This isn't the car to waltz up and dot BMW's eye. The lackluster entry 4-cylinder and loftily priced V6 are stumbling blocks on that path, but knock-out aesthetics, truly world-class technology and a well-executed chassis make the ATS worth a look. Buyers will undoubtedly respond to those attributes, especially given the fact that the 2.0-liter starts within spitting distance of a topped-out Honda Accord.
There are certainly hitches in this sedan's giddy up, but the ATS is an impressive effort from a brand still struggling to shake off the cobwebs of the past 3 decades. Once GM figures out the engine bay, the 3 Series may have something to worry about. Until then, the ATS will find favor with the crowd that always wanted a CTS but couldn't come up with the cash.
__________________ In the Family's Collective Garage:
2006 GS300 & 2007 GX470
There’s a new entry-luxury sheriff in town, and it goes by the name of 2013 Cadillac ATS. After years of rumors and spy photography suggesting Cadillac was targeting the iconic BMW 3 Series, GM’s premium brand has introduced an all-new compact luxury sedan built on a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive platform (read our 2013 Cadillac ATS Road Test for more details). This isn’t the first time a luxury carmaker has gone after the BMW 3 Series. Infiniti introduced its G luxury sedan 10 years ago, and many considered it the first truly viable alternative to the BMW 3 Series, at least in terms of intuitive and engaging driving dynamics.
Given the BMW 3 Series’ longstanding reputation as the “ultimate driving machine,” and given the Infiniti G37’s role as the leading Japanese alterative, it seemed fitting to put both of these benchmark entry-luxury sport sedans up against the new upstart from Detroit. We drove all three cars, a 2012 BMW 335i, a 2013 Cadillac ATS V6, and a 2012 Infiniti G37 Sport, back-to-back on the types of twisting roads and sweeping curves these models were designed to conquer. We confirmed the BMW 3 Series maintains a high benchmark in the area of pure driving dynamics. But we also confirmed the new Cadillac ATS and latest Infiniti G37 are remarkably close to the 3 Series, dynamically, while having a few tricks of their own…
About Our Test Vehicles
2012 BMW 335i ($55,370 MSRP with options and destination charge):
Redesigned for 2012, the latest BMW 335i is powered by a 3.0-liter, twin-turbo inline-6 making 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. When equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, as our Melbourne Red test car was, the 335i weighs in at 3,571 pounds and has a zero-to-60 time of around 5.4 seconds. Despite the move to electric-assisted power steering during the 2012 redesign, the 3 Series continues to provide excellent feel and feedback through its steering wheel. The 335i’s shifter, however, maintains the somewhat rubbery and imprecise feel that is trademark BMW.
2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 ($48,190 MSRP with options and destination charge):
The all-new 2013 Cadillac ATS can be ordered with one of three engines, and given the performance-oriented nature of this comparison we went with the most powerful offering, a 3.6-liter V6 making 321 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. No manual transmission is offered with this engine, but the 6-speed automatic is extremely effective at picking (and holding) gears when placed in “Sport” mode. The ATS also bests the competition in power-to-weight, with its V6 having only 3,461 pounds to haul around. That weight advantage helps get the ATS from zero-to-60 mph in 5.4 seconds.
2012 Infiniti G37 Sport ($41,495 MSRP with options and destination charge):
The 2012 Infiniti G37 is in its sixth year on this platform, making it the geezer of the group. Yet the Infiniti still offers competitive performance from a 3.7-liter V6 that musters 328 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque and gets to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. The 6-speed manual is easy to master, and effective pedal placement allows for seamless heel-and-toe downshifts. However, the shifter itself transmits a somewhat unpleasant drivetrain “buzzzzzz” that makes you want to avoid contact with it, except when swapping gears. The G37 is also the porkiest car in the comparison at 3,709 pounds.
Because all three of our test cars were painted some variation of red we were left to debate the subtlety of bodylines without color-based distractions. While not a dog in the show, it’s clear each of these manufacturers has a different take on how to dress a sport sedan. For the latest 3 Series, BMW stuck with traditional design cues, and that’s not a bad thing. The 335i’s exterior shape is not as progressive or eclectic as the Cadillac ATS, but it will probably age better than the other two.
Cadillac has been working the “art & science” theme for over a decade now, and the ATS proves there’s some life left in this design theme. Fans of the familiar style won’t find anything striking about the ATS, but its swept-back headlights add a distinctive design cue (particularly when accompanied by the optional LED accents). If there’s a downside to the thick roof pillars and upswept side windows it comes in the form of somewhat reduced visibility.
With the oldest body shell in the test we weren’t surprised to find Infiniti’s G37 the least visually compelling. It’s not really an issue of unattractive; it’s simply a case of uninspiring. The Infiniti lacks both the classic lines of the 3 Series as well as the intriguing shape of the ATS. The fender bulges, for instance, feel like they are trying too hard and the foglights in our test car looked like an ill-fitted afterthought compared to the more precise treatments for the BMW and Cadillac.
As mentioned, the new Cadillac ATS enjoys a weight advantage by being 133 pounds lighter than the equivalent BMW 335i and 248 pounds lighter than the Infiniti G37. This is particularly impressive given the V6 ATS only comes with a 6-speed automatic while our BMW and Infiniti test cars were both equipped with manual transmissions.
But a weight advantage alone won’t win this comparison test, especially when going up against sport sedans as capable as the 335i and G37. More critical to this class of vehicle is the level of feedback (and associated confidence) provided through touch points like the steering wheel, brake pedal and seat. In all three of those areas all three of these models are exceptionally capable. Drive each of them independently and you will be hard pressed to discern which one has the upper hand.
However, our back-to-back drives confirmed the BMW 3 Series is still a baby step ahead of the ATS in terms of pure driver feedback. We can’t emphasize enough how subtle this advantage is, as it relates to everything from tiny vibrations in the 335i’s steering wheel to engine sounds from the BMW’s inline-6 that actually help with power application and throttle control (if you’re listening for them). Our 3 Series test car also had the Adaptive M Suspension and 19-inch wheels, and these gave it an excellent balance between ride comfort and performance across a wide range of driving conditions.
Shadowing the BMW 335i in terms of both intuitive feedback as well as overall ride quality and handling confidence is the 2013 Cadillac ATS. If you think you might have misread that previous sentence, go back and read it again – slowly. Just to be 100 percent clear, Cadillac has created a sport sedan that is, dynamically, right on top of the BMW 3 Series. How close is it? The ATS is closer than the previous challenger to the 3 Series’ supremacy when it comes to sublime handling finesse – the Infiniti G37. Again, we’re talking shades of gray here, shades we could only uncover because we drove all three in such close proximity to each other. The G37’s extra weight is the likely culprit in placing it third, as it still feels like a first class sport sedan...unless you drive it aggressively right after driving an ATS or 3 Series, aggressively.
So BMW’s 3 Series maintains its (slight) advantage in terms of pure driver feedback, thus it wins – case closed, right? Not exactly. As mentioned before all three models offer nearly identical zero-to-60 times, and all have six-cylinder engines with wide, useable powerbands and rewarding engine notes when revved up for maximum performance.
But the 335i’s shifter is still not as precise as we’d like, giving a slight advantage to the G37 (despite the Infiniti shifter’s buzz). Even more compelling is the ATS’s brilliant 6-speed automatic, as it essentially removes the need to bother with shifting at all. When in “Sport” mode this transmission will perform a rev-matched downshift while braking for a corner and then hold the lower gear as you accelerate out, no driver action required (though you can take control via the steering-wheel-mounted paddles). These shifts are so seamless that even if they occur in the middle of a corner they have no negative effect on the ATS’ stability (or driver confidence)
This is not the first transmission with these capabilities, but it might be the best executed. And while this may sound like heresy, plenty of sport sedan buyers would rather not deal with a third pedal during the majority of their driving, yet they want a responsive transmission for their weekend canyon blasts. The Cadillac ATS (with this automatic) provides both.
Interior Design and Function
The rule of thumb for interior design themes within entry-luxury sport sedans, at least the one established by BMW’s 3 Series over multiple decades, has been “stark and straightforward.” That’s actually a bit of a misnomer these days, with BMW offering a range of interior colors and trim options to brighten things up inside. Our 335i test car, however, was outfitted with traditional “Dakota Black” leather seats along with black door panels, carpet and dash. Because our test car had the $1,700 Sport Line interior upgrade we also enjoyed red contrasting stitching on the steering wheel, seats and door panels, plus brushed aluminum trim panels and a Coral highlight splitting the dashboard. These treatments, along with the widescreen iDrive display, clear analog gauge cluster and effective climate controls, were fully functional, if not particularly progressive.
Progressive works when describing the 2013 Cadillac ATS’ interior design. A wide range of interior color and trim options are offered in the ATS, with our test car featuring “Light Platinum” leather seats and lower dash/door panels offset by wood trim and black upper panels. More intriguing was the LED gauge cluster with clear, vibrant white and blue lighting and a reconfigurable display panel just below the speedometer (for at-a-glance information related to music, navigation and phone activity). Dedicated, capacitive-touch climate controls in the center stack can retract to reveal a storage bin with a USB port when the ATS is equipped with the CUE and Navigation package. This bin is perfect for storing a connected cell phone or audio device, though the 3 Series offers a similar, iPhone/iPod dedicated storage bin underneath the center armrest.
The Infiniti G37’s cabin was the most dated interior design in the test, as reflected in its low-tech (though still effective) center stack controls and basic black seats and dash with “Shodo-finish” aluminum trim panels. Large, bright electroluminescent gauges, separated by an information panel, are easy to read but not as vibrant as the ATS’ gauges. The optional 7-inch touchscreen monitor on our test car was smaller than the ATS’ CUE screen, but it was still easy to read and operate.
All three sport sedans offered comfortable seats with effective lateral bolstering, and all three provide adequate hip, head and legroom for four full-sized adults. Rear legroom in the ATS is smaller than the other two, both in official measurement and in real-world functionality. The 3 Series wins for useable trunk space, with 17 cubic feet, followed by the G37 at 13.5 and the ATS at 10.2.
Primary Features and Options
With the lowest starting price and highest level of standard equipment the Infiniti G37 Sport is the value leader of the group. For just over $40,000 you get a range of high-end features, including 18-inch alloy wheels, performance tires, a limited slip differential, heated leather seats, HID headlights, a navigation system with voice commands, keyless entry, rearview camera, 12-way power driver’s seat, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, push-button engine start, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and a Bose premium audio system. In fact, our G37 Sport was so well equipped it didn’t have anything to bump the base $40,600 price except an $895 destination charge (for a grand total of $41,495).
Many of those same features are included in the base Cadillac ATS 3.6 at a starting price of $42,090, but you’ll have to pay extra for navigation, heated leather seats, 12-way power driver’s seat, rearview camera, HID headlights, keyless entry, performance tires and a limited slip differential. Our Cadillac ATS test car included all those items, plus several high-tech features you can’t get on the Infiniti G37, such as the CUE (Cadillac User Interface) system, a color heads-up display, lane departure warning, an additional USB port, an SD card reader and Gen 3 Magnetic Ride Control (these are all included in the ATS 3.6 “Premium” trim, starting at at $47,590). The two most import items on that list are CUE and Magnetic Ride Control. The latter contributes an undeniable level of handling capability and confidence to the ATS, while CUE is arguably the most advanced and engaging (in a non-distracting way) form of driver information, navigation and communication currently on the market. Both features imbue the ATS with a futuristic demeanor the other sedans can’t match, making the $48,190 total cost (including a $600 cold weather package) feel like money well spent. And remember, that price includes the aforementioned, highly effective 6-speed automatic.
At the top of the price spectrum is the $55,370 BMW 335i. That’s about as much as you can make a 3 Series cost, and it includes many of the same features found on the Cadillac…but not all of them. For that money you still don’t get lane departure warning, a rearview camera or a heated steering wheel. More telling than these missing items were the items included on our 3 Series test car that didn’t live up to the ATS’ new standard in terms of execution.
For instance, the heads-up display and reconfigurable gauge cluster in the ATS provide a wealth of information that the 3 Series can’t match. The Cadillac’s capacitive touch controls, combined with the CUE user interface and highly capable voice recognition system, make utilizing the ATS’s advanced features more seamless and less distracting than the equivalent systems in the BMW or Infiniti. There was also a Driver Awareness package included on our ATS’s price that features what Cadillac calls a “safety alert seat” – it vibrates when the car drifts out of a lane or senses a forward collision. This system is far more refined than the vibrating steering wheels and annoying alarms used by many of today’s premium vehicles
Total Car Score Analysis
We could dive into items like the joy of BMW’s super-intuitive steering feel or the value packed into the G37’s base price and weigh them against the advanced ATS features like capacitive touch control and a sublime automatic transmission, but the best way to think about these three sedans is a pretty simple.
The BMW 335i is slightly more engaging from a pure driving dynamics standpoint, though this subtle advantage comes at a high cost of entry while still not offering the kind of advanced technology available on the ATS.
The Infiniti G37 Sport delivers a lot of value for the money, both in terms of standard equipment and outright performance. But it feels heavier, rougher around the edges and somewhat outdated compared to the BMW 335i or the Cadillac ATS.
The all-new 2013 Cadillac ATS manages to find the sweet spot between these sport sedan stalwarts. It provides equivalent performance, nearly identical driving enjoyment, more sophisticated technology and better value than the 3 Series. It also feels substantially more advanced and refined than the G37 without costing substantially more money.
Say hello to the new sheriff.
_______________________________ Building a fake futurein the hopes that the real future will show up and mate with it.
Yeah reviews are solid.. 3 series pricing is wowzers
actually pricing is ok until you get to the V6 -- and personally, I wouldn't buy this car without it ---- IMHO Caddy shoud dump both 4cyl motors and concentrate on mass producing the V6 (at the very least dump the base motor). I mean look at the G37 example...they tried the G25 and it flopped.
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