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Spy Shots: Cadillac ATS or XTS hits the test track


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Spy Shots: Cadillac ATS hits the test track

by Jonny Lieberman (RSS feed) on Jun 22nd 2010 at 5:19PM

Look what the spies have caught. Fresh from our time in the nothing-else-looks-like-it Cadillac CTS Coupe, comes these furtive shots of what we think is the upcoming Cadillac ATS. We've heard different rumors, but the dedicated BMW 3 Series fighter will either show up in 2013 as a 2014 model, or 2014 for the 2015 model year. Whenever it shows up, the ATS will be riding on a smaller version of GM's new/upcoming Alpha platform, the same basic RWD chassis that will also underpin the third generation CTS as well as the next Chevy Camaro.

We've taken a long, hard look at these spy shots, and have concluded that whatever sits under the CTS shell has had its wheelbase shrunk, leading us to believe this is in fact an ATS mule. The wheels are far too close to the passenger compartment. The other giveaway are the two places to insert fuel. At first we thought perhaps this is an XTS prototype and that the second orifice was (maybe) because of the new big Caddy's plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain. However, we think the vestigial door in the photographs is actually there because of the shortened chassis of the ATS. Also, GM will be placing PHEV plugs on the driver's side for convenience. We've also heard nothing about an ATS PHEV, though an ATS Hybrid has been rumored.

As for the mule in these pictures, here's hoping whatever's under there is worthy of all six ducks.



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By Drew Johnson

We’ve just photographed the first real-world signs of development of the Cadillac XTS. The donor CTS body on this mule has been heavily modified to add length (to both the wheelbase and overall), while also adding width–all to duplicate the footprint of the XTS.

The grayed-out roof also shows signs of cutting, riveting, and primer to get this testbed sized right. The body sits uncomfortably atop the swollen wheel arches, and the placement of the wheels seem out of whack, as the platform gets fine-tuned for its next phase of testing.

Cadillac showed the XTS Platinum concept in January at the Detroit Auto Show. Although that concept looked nearly production-ready, this mule shows that there is still a lot of work to do make it a production reality. The XTS program has generated lots of rumors of platform shuffling–from a Zeta-based rear-wheel drive setup, to an altered Sigma platform stretched over-and-above the CTS — but the latest information suggests that the XTS will use an upgraded version of GM’s Epsilon II architecture. The XTS Platinum concept was touted to be all-wheel drive, which would seem to support the Epsilon II reports.

The XTS is also reportedly slated to adopt the PHEV powerplant originally scheduled for the Saturn Vue, along with its 3.6-liter Direct-Injected V6. The combined power output for the gas and electric engines is listed at 350 hp and 295 lb-ft. of torque, with nice low-end pull expected thanks to the electric powerplant.

Given the state of this test mule, don’t expect to see the XTS in Cadillac showrooms earlier than 2013.

Cadillac XTS concept

Design language and importance

As Cadillac explains, the XTS Platinum concept was designed from the inside out, with the design goal to imagine the XTS as a personal headquarters that was built with an emphasis on efficiency, luxury and connectivity. Cadillac says that it took an entirely new approach to designing the vehicle’s electronics, which resulted in a new concept interface system.

“The XTS Platinum concept is the next expression of Cadillac’s Art and Science execution philosophy, reflecting our drive to deliver the latest innovations in the most artful manner,” said Bryan Nesbitt, Cadillac general manager. Nesbitt also said, “We envisioned this concept as an automotive personal headquarters, using advanced technology to enable new levels of connectivity and luxury.”

The XTS lacks excess in its powertrain

One common theme often shared between concept cars and luxury cars alike is excessive amounts of power. Of course, many would argue that there is no such thing as excessive power, but with the XTS there is no need to address that possibility. Instead, Cadillac decided to use the XTS to demonstrate a balance of power and efficiency with a 3.6-liter V6 with direct injection, paired with a plug-in electric-drive hybrid system.

This powertrain enables the XTS to provide ample power while still remaining fuel efficient and without much sacrifice. So much so in fact, Cadillac says the XTS tackles urban commutes with double the efficiency of a traditional hybrid.

Cadillac classifies the XTS Platinum as a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric propulsion) which features an electric-only drive mode. The battery can be fully charged in roughly five hours, providing for exceptional fuel economy during short commutes. When immediate and heavy acceleration is needed, the XTS can combine the power of the V6 with the electric motor for maximum power of 350 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque.

The XTS is certainly not short on luxury inside

To achieve the level of sophistication and luxury that Cadillac was aiming for it used extensive amounts of hand cut-and-sewn materials. To add a contemporary feel and style to the XTS’ interior organic light-emitting diodes, or O-LEDs were used in place of traditional screens and displays.

To maximize intuitiveness and minimize clutter in design Cadillac has gotten rid of traditional controls, buttons and switches and replaced them with a panel that appears fully black when the vehicle is off, and illuminates to reflect its function when turned on. The surface is touch-sensitive and allows users to simply tap the surface to convey their desired changes.

“The Platinum distinction in Cadillac means the fullest extent of luxury and technology and we’ve tried to reach even further with this concept, ” said Clay Dean, Cadillac design director. Dean went on to say, “Just as the technology pushes the boundaries of what a Cadillac can offer, so do the details that make the XTS Platinum Concept an uncompromising experience.”

The unique XTS Platinum exterior design explained

Cadillac set out to create a vehicle whose unique proportion would follow their “inside out” design priority, while still maintaining what they believe to be a sleek exterior profile with desirable aerodynamics.

“The XTS Platinum Concept design artfully conveys its focus on functionality through technology, ” said Dean. “It is the antithesis of the conventional three-box sedan, suggesting the active evolution of Cadillac’s design language.”

Cadillac points out that the profile culminates in an intentionally high deck lid that provides exceptional aerodynamics for maximum efficiency. Cadillac also sought to deliver a sloping design which conveyed a similar feeling of forward motion, even while at rest – much like Ford’s kinetic design. Cadillac chose 11-spoke, 20-inch wheels to provide a blend of performance and style for a luxuries, yet efficient ride.

What keeps the XTS planted to the road?

Delivering power to the Bridgestone-wrapped 20-inch wheels is an all-wheel-drive system that Cadillac says ensures optimal traction during slippery conditions, and maximum possible control during hard cornering.

The XTS also features MRC, or Magnetic Ride Control, which uses shocks that are controlled by magneto-rheological technology, rather than traditional valves. Cadillac says this greatly improves response time and the level of precision possible.



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Earlier this morning we received a series of images from one of our spy photographers who incorrectly informed us that he had spied a very early-stage Cadillac XTS test mule.

After taking a closer look, as well as considering the suggestions by our readers, we have determined the mule to in fact be the first-ever photographed example of an upcoming, all-new sub-CTS model – the ATS.

What we can see from the spy photos

The spy photos are obviously showing the shell of a larger CTS sedan, which has been hacked and modified in order to accommodate for the shorter wheelbase and different underpinnings to be found in the ATS. That said, nothing can be said in terms of what to expect for exterior styling based on the photos, but it is a safe bet to expect the ATS to – not surprisingly – look essentially like a smaller version of the CTS sedan.

We do also know that the ATS is expected to ride on General Motor’s upcoming Alpha platform, which is essentially the same rear-wheel drive chassis and underpinnings found on the next-generation Camaro.


Although it is fairly early on in the development of the ATS, what we do know is that Cadillac has big plans for its small car - including sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible forms. For now, we expect Cadillac to start with the development of the sedan, which will be aimed squarely at the always successful BMW 3-Series.

Speculation has run wild concerning possible powertrains, ranging from the massive 6.2-liter supercharged V8 currently found in the CTS-V as a range-topper, to a possible twin-turbo offering in order to keep the weight and fuel consumption down, while still delivering strong performance.

Leftlane had previously reported that inside sources familiar with plans at GM had confirmed the development of a 3.0-liter twinturbo setup, which would be a logical candidate for the ATS.



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