Cadillac goes after BMW 3-Series with new ATS

DETROIT (AP) ? With the Cadillac ATS, General Motors is trying to break into the market for small luxury sport sedans now dominated by BMW’s 3-Series.

The ATS, unveiled Sunday, a day ahead of the North American International Auto Show press days in Detroit, was designed to be among the lightest cars in its class.

If Cadillac can gain a foothold in the segment, it will be highly lucrative for GM. Cadillac currently doesn’t have a car that can compete with the 3-Series.

Last year, BMW sold more than 94,000 3-Series cars, including sedans, coupes, stations wagons and convertibles, according to Autodata Corp. The lowest-price model, the 328i sedan, starts at over $34,000 and decked-out versions can run higher than $60,000. GM wouldn’t reveal the price of the ATS, which will be built in Lansing, Mich., and is due in showrooms late this summer.

The company says the rear-wheel drive ATS will be quick and nimble, with a sophisticated suspension and the latest in electronic touch-screen technology. It’s designed to be quick and nimble.

Here are the highlights of the car:

POWER: Three engine choices: 2-liter four-cylinder turbo with 270 horsepower, a 2.5-liter inline four with 200 horsepower and a 3.6-liter V-6 with 318 horsepower. Manual and automatic transmissions are available.

WEIGHT: About 3,400 pounds, achieved with an aluminum hood instead of steel, lightweight magnesium engine mounts and other weight-saving technologies. The weight is about the same as a 3-series sedan. Has nearly a 50-50 weight balance from front to back.

SUSPENSION: Independent rear wheels with MacPherson struts in the front. Magnetic ride control can be adjusted by the driver for sporty driving on twisting roads.

BRAKES: Large brakes for quick stopping made by performance parts supplier Brembo.

SPEED: Not released.

MILEAGE: GM says some versions of the ATS will do better than 30 mpg on the highway.

LOOKS: Like a small version of the Cadillac CTS, a larger car, with the same trademark vertical lights and taillights. The ATS slopes from rear to front and has a crease along the top of the doors. Its rear-seat windows are smaller top to bottom than the driver’s side.

CHEERS: Engine choices and light structure should make the ATS a strong candidate for those who want luxury and performance out of a small car.

JEERS: The Cadillac brand still has to overcome quality problems. It ranked 25th of 28 brands in the Consumer Reports magazine’s 2011 survey of auto reliability.