By Megan Green
Cadillac kicked off the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan with the much-anticipated launch of the 2013 ATS. Revealed in the rooms that once were Harley Earl's legendary 1950's design studio, Cadillac's lightweight, rear-wheel drive compact sedan challenges the European stronghold on the luxury segment.
Weighing in at less than 3,400 pounds, the ATS structure uses high-strength steels (HSS) and ultra-high strength steel (UHSS) for crash protection, with a broad use of aluminum in the powertrain and suspension systems, as well as an aluminum hood and magnesium engine mount brackets.
The ATS claims an almost 50/50 weight balance with the weight of the engine and transmission complemented by a mostly steel rear suspension, reducing vibration for a quieter ride.
Two transmissions will be available; the manual Tremec M3L TR3160 is a six-speed with single overdrive, and the Hydra-Matic 6L45 is an electronically controlled six-speed automatic.
Three cast aluminum engines will also be available: the 270 horsepower 2.0 Turbo DI VVT four-valve fuel injection with 260 pounds of torque, the 200 hp 2.5L I-4 DI VVT engine with 188 pounds of torque, and the 3.6L V6 DI VVT boasts 318 hp and 267 pounds of torque. Fuel economy has not been announced as of yet.
Inside, Cadillac CUE technology enhances connectivity for all ranges of users. An eight-inch touch screen with easy-to-use large icons manages all external mobile devices with a more four buttons. Sirus XM Radio is also included, along with Bluetooth phone connectivity with voice recognition, a Bose® Cabin Surround audio system in all trim levels, and keyless access with push-button start. Combined with soft seats, real wood trim, and an LED-lit gauges, and an overall design with a sleeker but recognizable Cadillac identity, the ATS is poised to give the Europeans a run for their money. Or the Nürburgring, where the ATS was rigorously tested.
(All Images © Megan Green)
2013 Ford Fusion
Ford issued their own challenge Monday morning, aiming to lead the mid-size sedan market populated by the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord with a team of three 2013 Fusions offered in gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid, as well as S, SE and Titanium trim levels. To further increase appeal, both automatic and manual six-speed transmissions will be available.
The body is strengthened 10% by using boron. Additionally, adaptive cruise control is equipped with collision warning, Blind Spot Information System alerts the driver of traffic in a blind spot, a lane keeping system automatically helps steer the car back into the lane when it senses drifting outside of lane markings, and adaptive front and dual first-row knee airbags add safety.
While the Fusion will be priced $2,000 above the Camry, Executive Vice President of Ford Motor Company Mark Fields believes the Ford Fusion can win more customers with good value. Targeting Millenials, the Fusion has both the SYNC® communications and entertainment system enabling voice activated interaction and communication via the driver’s mobile phone, and MyFord Touch® which accesses vehicle systems with either a touch screen, button, or voice control. Seat fabric uses recycled, sustainable yarns, appealing to the eco-conscious generation.
Fuel efficiency is also key to appealing to customers across a wide range; the Fusion gasoline-powered 1.6 liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine has 26 mpg city/ 37 mpg highway. The Fusion Hybrid sports a 2.0 liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that gets 47 mpg/city and 44 mpg highway. For the 2013 model, lithium-ion batteries are switched from nickel-metal hydride, reducing weight and raising the electric-only speed capability to 62 mph. Available in fall of 2012, the new Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid is aiming for 100 MPGe, potentially giving the Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius plug-in some stiff competition.
The new 2013 BMW 3 Series sports an all-new design, an optional 8 speed automatic gearbox, auto start-stop engine function, and a parking assist system.
Days after 2011 sales figures showing that not only did BMW capture the top spot in luxury sales in the United States, but that they had their highest sales year ever, BMW revealed the new 3 Series sedan in its largest single market.
The sixth generation of the 3 Series will be offered in three different lines: Sport, which enhances already existing power; Modern, the interior augmented with natural materials, and additional refinement in the Luxury line. Each line created with many opportunities to further customize, and therefore, personalize. BMW believes this is the key to enhancing its market success. Furthermore, a special M package should be available summer 2012. A full-hybrid version with BMW ActiveHybrid drive technology will be premiered in fall 2012.
Larger than its predecessor with a wider track, a slight increase in height and 3.6” of additional length adds space and comfort to passengers both in legroom and headroom. Driver controls are all ergonomically laid out and intuitively within reach. New to the 3 Series as part of BMW ConnectedDrive is a Head Up Display – speed and other pertinent information is projected in full color onto the windshield in front of the driver – and new safety and connectivity features have been added, including Collision Warning System and Lane Change Warning System. BMW ConnectedDrive also provides a hands-free interface to MP3 players and mobile phones as well as email, text messages, and other internet content.
Two engines are available for the new 3 Series; the BMW 328i 2-liter four cylinder TwinPower Turbo generates 245 horsepower and 258 pounds of torque, and can go from 0-62 mph in 5.9 seconds. The 335i features a 3-liter TwinPower Turbo straight six cylinder that powers out 306 hp and 295 pounds of torque. All models, whether diesel or gasoline engine, are available with eight-speed automatic gearbox; however, the Sport version is standard with six-speed manual transmission. The 3 Series retains the signature kidney grille with the headlights extending from the sides of the grille to wrap around the front and sides.
And finally, this version of The Ultimate Driving Machine comes with two cupholders.
Article Last Updated: January 9, 2012.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.