Cadillac is betting it can win entry into the hotly competitive luxury market with a mix of styling, performance and pricing, the base model of its new 2013 ATS sedan to carry a sticker of $33,990.
That’s about $2,000 less than the MSRP for the king of the compact luxury segment, the BMW 3-Series, which starts at $35,795 for the base 328i.
But as with BMW and other competitors, the Detroit maker plans to offer a wide array of options, including all-wheel-drive and a more sporty V-6, which will let buyers nudge the price tag for the 2013 Cadillac ATS all the way up into the mid-$40,000 range.
“The ATS enters a vehicle segment this year that’s one of the most competitive in the market, from both a price and performance standpoint,” said Cadillac’s director of marketing Don Butler. “ATS will bring a distinctive presence and compelling value while offering quick, nimble, fun-to-drive dynamics that will appeal to the lifestyles of modern luxury buyers and challenge the segment’s status quo.”
Of course, Cadillac has tried that before.
Traditionally known for its big luxury yachts, like the legendary finned DeVille of the late 1950s and early 1960s, it launched a domestic compact in the early-1980s to respond to the twin Mideast oil shocks. But the Cadillac Cimarron was one of the brand’s biggest flops, the sedan sharing many of the same basics as the more mundane, first-generation Chevrolet Cavalier – without a bigger engine to manage its extra weight.
Initial evidence suggests the maker isn’t going to repeat that mistake.
The new model – which was introduced at the recent Detroit Auto Show and which goes on sale later this year – will share the same underpinnings as the larger Cadillac CTS, which means it has some solid luxury attributes.
Chie engineer David Leone has hinted that the “architecture” of the smaller model has undergone extensive revisions designed to not only improve its ride and handling but also to sharply reduce its weight. It is expected to come in “substantially below” 3400 pounds, though GM officials haven’t yet revealed precise figures.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS will be offered with a trio of engines, including a new 270-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that, the maker boasts, turns out more horsepower per liter then the V-12 used in Lamborghini’s new flagship supercar the Aventador. The sedan will also be offered with a high-mileage 2.5-liter naturally aspirated I-4, along with a 3.6-liter V-6 that it will share with both the mid-range Caddy CTS and flagship XTS.
Cadillac has also hinted that a diesel could follow – indeed, sources expect that to be a certainty when the ATS is sold in Europe – along with a V-Series high-performance version.
The $33,990 will cover the base, rear-wheel-drive 2.5-liter package. The top-line 320-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 will carry a base or $42,090, and all-wheel-drive will be an option. The V-6 package will come standard with 8-way power leather seats as well as the new Cadillac Cue system. That infotainment technology will be able to recognize natural speech rather than requiring a buyer to learn specific commands for operating navigation, audio and other vehicle features.
With the sporty 2.0-liter turbo, pricing will start at $35,795. That package, which precisely nails the MSRP of the BMW 328i, gets you another 40 horsepower over the Bavarian offering. The Caddy will be offered with choice of manual or automatic, as well as rear- or all-wheel-drive.
While the pricing of the new Cadillac ATS may give it a bit of a leg up on BMW it raises some serious questions about what the analysts like to call “cannibalization.” Will the new compact steal sales from the larger Caddy CTS, which starts at just $36,810?
The ATS will have a few advantages, such as the Cue system. And it’s a lot newer than the CTS, which is reaching the end of its lifecycle. Meanwhile, Caddy is expected to shift the positioning of the bigger model line in its next-gen form. Currently the CTS falls somewhere between the BMW 3- and 5-Series lines in size and features. It will move up-market when renewed, to more directly tackle the Bavarian 5-er.
And it will slot neatly between the new ATS and equally new Cadillac XTS, the flagship sedan also launching this year. That model will be more directly aimed at the BMW 7-Series than the old Caddy STS and DTS lines.
On top of that, Cadillac is giving serious consideration to go even more up-market with a super-premium model that will loosely be based on the recent Ciel concept. Insiders promise that a new show car should make its appearance later this year.
Cadillac is also looking to expand its CUV line-up, giving some company to the current SRX model.
The General Motors brand is desperately hoping to rebuild itself after years of struggles. Last month, Cadillac announced it will begin building cars in China and suggested that it is getting ready to launch all-new models at the pace of one a year.
Tags: 2013 cadillac ats, BMW 328i, Cadillac ATS, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac XTS, auto news, bme 3-series, bmw 5-series, bmw news, caddy ats, caddy cts, caddy news, cadillac ciel, cadillac cimarron, cadillac news, car news, compact luxury sedans, gm news, luxury car pricing, luxury car reviews, luxury cars, paul a. eisenstein, paul eisenstein, thedetroitbureau