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Celebrity Status Cadillac ATS


Climbing into the Cadillac ATS I feel like I’m meeting an Oscar winner. Most car awards aren’t worth the plastic they are written on, but just to be nominated for the best car in North America is a massive achievement. To actually go on to win that award, similar to winning an Oscar, means your stock value is on the rise and you can expect large demand for your talents. The Cadillac ATS was named the 2013 North American Car of the Year and here I am, all star struck, driving the car on the streets of Abu Dhabi and the Yas Island race track.

I was in Detroit in 2012 when Cadillac unveiled the ATS for the first time, so I’m a little apprehensive about finally driving the car - I hope I agree with the awards judges! Abu Dhabi’s roads are fairly straight and don’t offer much of a challenge to the ATS. Despite the sand and wind hitting us from all directions the most I can deduce is that the ATS is smooth and refined with a quiet drive. The Yas Island race track is another story altogether.

Quite why manufacturers give me cars to test on the track I’ll never know. The Cadillac is a luxury sedan designed for carrying upper management to their plush offices in supreme comfort, safety and with a feeling of confidence and achievement. That’s why the ATS has a well thought out cabin, wrapped in high quality leather and wood finish. The dials are easy to navigate and see, in fact they offer a fairly sporty overall feel. The new CUE system for the entertainment promises a wealth of bring your own music options and user connectivity. And yet here I am climbing into the cabin with my crash helmet bumping the roof lining, my feet twitching at the pedals and my sweaty fingers over the plush steering wheel.

If ever a car is found out to be lacking it is because the manufacturers are crazy enough to give it to me on a track. Most cars are designed for road use so race track bashing just embarrasses them. That thought went through my mind as I hurtled around the circuit. As I crossed the finish line on my opening lap I was a little confused: why is this luxury American sedan taking my beating and asking for more? I pushed harder on the second lap and realising this whipping was barely tickling the ATS, I gave it everything on the next few laps. It was me who needed a breather not the car. The Cadillac ATS needed to be in the hands of a pro-racer, because it was me who was found out to be lacking, the ATS was the best car I’ve driven around Yas Island - not bad for a sedan.

Cadillac have spent fortunes on the development of this car in order to put themselves back on the automotive map and challenge the Germans for segment space. Reliability, performance and comfort are all needed in a luxury car and the ATS guarantees that. The ATS with the 2.5L engine and automatic transmission has an official base curb weight of 1503 kg – making it the lightest vehicle in its competitor segment.

The all-new compact luxury sport sedan translates that mass efficiency into nimble, quick performance.

It achieves 0-96 kph acceleration in 5.4 seconds – among the fastest in its segment compared to mainstream competitor variants – when equipped with a 3.6L V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission. “Being quick and agile are highly valued qualities in the compact luxury sport sedan segment,” said David Masch, ATS chief engineer. “We designed and engineered ATS’s all-new vehicle architecture to deliver a spirited driving experience that builds on Cadillac’s sport heritage and success with its performance-tuned CTS-V.”

Performance Algorithm Liftfoot, or PAL, detects when the driver demands more performance from the vehicle while taking a curve and automatically drops the transmission to a lower gear to improve acceleration out of the corner.

PAL is paired with ATS models with a sixspeed automatic transmission, which engineers have perfected for quick-shift timing. PAL minimizes unneeded shifting and allows the driver to focus on the road and enjoy the ride.

An aluminum hood and front suspension parts, magnesium engine mount brackets and natural-fiber door trim panels contribute to ATS’s light weight. The ATS development team also reduced weight in the rear suspension by using specially engineered straight steel links with mass-reducing holes instead of using aluminum.

ATS’s performance also benefited from efficient 50-50 mass distribution between the front and rear. ATS’s segment-leading lower curb weight enabled the use of optimized highstrength aluminum 18-inch wheel forgings and front Brembo brakes.

Among the most sophisticated of the features is Front and Rear Automatic Brakes. This special feature relies on short-range radar technology and ultrasonic sensors to help the driver prevent front and rear low-speed collisions via a progression of alerts that if necessary, extend to complete braking. “The all-new 2013 ATS is designed to be quick and nimble, with fun-to-drive dynamics. For any new group of luxury consumers, this really is a car that will fit their lifestyle and challenge the segment’s status quos,” said Don Butler, Vice President of Cadillac Marketing.

Due to the track I agree with the North American judges - the Cadillac ATS is a truly great car - which is a relief both for me and the car!


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