Production is officially underway for the 2013 Cadillac ATS, the most important model in nearly a decade for the American brand as it aims to capture the ever-lucrative entry level luxury segment.
Cadillac has made no secret that they’re aiming to take down the BMW 3-Series and its competitors, and have packed the ATS with components that focus on saving weight and increasing performance. To beat BMW, they’ve taken a page out of the BMW playbook and made a sports sedan that moonlights as a luxury car – Magnetic Ride Control and the in-car CUE system make the ATS an industry leader in technology.
The first ATS rolled out of the Lansing Grand River assembly plant in Michigan on Thursday, and Cadillac added 600 new jobs along with a $190 million renovation to handle the workload. Lansing Grand River also produces all of Cadillac’s popular CTS models.
So the ATS breaks new ground for Cadillac in a lot of literal ways, but more apparent is the way that it has figuratively forged a new direction for the company. Cadillac is very publicly taking the ATS straight to the BMW 3-Series, much in the same way that Ford is aiming their C-MAX straight at the Toyota Prius. In the post-recession era, U.S. automakers are out to prove that their new and improved cars are good enough to beat the best products in the world.
Starting with a $33,000 MSRP, the base ATS is certainly going to draw looks from customers looking for their first luxury car. As you opt for different engines and more options, though, the price can quickly rise into $50,000 range. At that point, it will be tougher for Cadillac to keep eyes from straying to the 3-Series, which offers a far wider variety of body styles and performance levels. If Cadillac eventually adds a coupe and wagon, plus an ATS-V performance model and can manage to work down the price a bit, they may have a dominant car on the roads and in the dealerships.
It may not be perfect yet, but it’s a start, and we’ll soon find out whether the ATS can begin to chip away at one of the most established reputations in all the automotive industry.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS will be available in dealerships this August.