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dwightlooi

Going for broke with the ATS

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The ATS is probably GM Luxury's most important car of the decade. If GM is to go for broke it'll probably be with this vehicle.

Here are a number of things that can happen...

Mild Electric Hybridization being standard on all 4-cylinder models

  • 15~20hp Belt-Alternator-Starter (BAS) or Flywheel-Integrated-Generator/motor (FIG)
  • 0.5 kWh / 115.2 Volt air cooled Lithium Ion Battery Pack
  • Idle Stop control
  • Regenerative braking
  • Mild power assist

Gen III Ecotec Engine (ATS 2.4 & 2.0T)

  • 200~220 hp 2.4 liter Direct Injection Naturally Aspirated Inline-4
  • 270~300 hp 2.0 liter Direct Injection Turbo Inline-4
  • Intake Port Mounted Throttle Butterflies
  • Intake Cam Switching system affording part time Miller & Atkinson Cycle operation
  • 0W20 Low Friction Synthetic Lubricants

Gen V Small Block Engine (ATS-V)

  • 420~470 hp 5.5~6.2 liter Direct Injection Pushrod V8
  • Cam-in-cam Dual Independent VVT
  • Cylinder Deactivation

Clutched Automatic Transmissions

  • 6-speed Planetary Automatic with electro-hydraulic clutch pack instead of torque converter

Advanced Refinement and Amenities

  • Double Glazed Acoustic Glass on front and rear windows
  • Electrochromic glass all round (Real Time Auto and Manual tint control)
  • 99.9% UV A/B proof glass (Asian Markets)
  • Sound Absorbing Perforated Honeycomb Sandwich engine cover and skirts
  • Noise Cancelling Audio System
  • Magnetorologic Shocks

Advanced Unibody Structure

  • High Strength Steel Unibody
  • Aluminum hood and Selected Panels
  • Cast Magnesium Firewall Cross member
  • Laser seam welding
  • Quiet Steel Elastomeric Sandwich firewall and underbody pan

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8-speed auto on the base model is a must for this car at launch. BMW has 8-speeds on everything above a 3-series right now, Merc has had 7-speed for years and is working on 9. Hyundai is going to offer 8-speeds in 2011. Cadillac can't be behind them right out of the gate.

Car needs a V6. I'd wish for a straight six, but I know that isn't happening, so V6 I'll take. But a V6 is an absolute must, the whole segment has one. The ATS can have one turbo-4 with hybrid system to get the greenies, after that leave the 4-bangers to Chevy and Buick.

I do hope Cadillac goes for broke on this one, but Cadillac never has on any vehicle in the past, at least not in my lifetime. So I remain cautiously optimistic. Remember also, for this car to be a "3-series killer" it has to be a "CTS killer" as well. Will Cadillac really make a car good enough to make the current CTS irrelevant and obsolete?

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It needs one other thing to be successful:

That right there lets you charge $5,000 more for the car.

A Caddy hood ornament on the ATS would be nice..the badge in the center of the grille is too predictable.

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A Caddy hood ornament on the ATS would be nice..the badge in the center of the grille is too predictable.

Badge in the grille for ATS and CTS, raised hood ornament on the big car. S-class has the raised hood ornament so you can line up poor people in the crosshairs before running them down. Gives the car that 3rd world dictator feel.

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8-speed auto on the base model is a must for this car at launch. BMW has 8-speeds on everything above a 3-series right now, Merc has had 7-speed for years and is working on 9. Hyundai is going to offer 8-speeds in 2011. Cadillac can't be behind them right out of the gate.

Car needs a V6. I'd wish for a straight six, but I know that isn't happening, so V6 I'll take. But a V6 is an absolute must, the whole segment has one. The ATS can have one turbo-4 with hybrid system to get the greenies, after that leave the 4-bangers to Chevy and Buick.

I do hope Cadillac goes for broke on this one, but Cadillac never has on any vehicle in the past, at least not in my lifetime. So I remain cautiously optimistic. Remember also, for this car to be a "3-series killer" it has to be a "CTS killer" as well. Will Cadillac really make a car good enough to make the current CTS irrelevant and obsolete?

Actually, I disagree on this one... on the question of how many speeds you need, more is not always merrier.

Let's take it to the extreme and consider a 24-speed transmission. It'll actually make the car slower due to all the shifting that's taking place. In fact, most of the 7 and 8 speed trannies do not go through all its speeds from stop to freeway cruising speeds. Instead, many start in 2nd and only goes to first in sport mode or when you floor the gas at a stop or at creeping speeds. Heck, even the M-B 5-speed starts in 2nd. Some skips 4th and/or 6th on upshifts, and use those gears only during part throttle downshifts at certain speeds where they go down one gear instead of two.

When it comes down to it, I think what is "enough" is enough ratios and spread to do three things:-

  • Get to 60 mph in 2nd with a low enough 1st to optimize performance.
  • Have a high enough top ratio such that the 65 mph cruising rpm is at or under 2000 rpm.
  • Have enough ratios such that each upshift puts the rpm at or near the torque peak.

We can already do all of those things with 6 ratios and a 6~6.1 ratio spread. More ratios really do not do much for performance or economy although it may make gear changes less perceptible under some situations or offer an alternative starting gear for sport and comfort modes. All it all it doesn't help a lot.

But, surely it can't hurt can it? Well, actually it can... in two ways. Firstly, 6-speeds is practically the limit you can do with two planetaries. More speeds require three planetaries. More planetaries in the same case size means higher parasitic losses from free spinning gears. It also means narrower and weaker gears. In short, a weaker transmission that is less efficient at any given constant speed. Secondly, it is a matter of money and where is goes. If you spend $1000 on an extra 2 or 3 gears, thats money you cannot put into a flywheel integrated motor. Overall, the economy gains from 3 additional speeds is probably less than you'll get from mild electrification. So, this becomes an opportunity cost and a bad trade off.

For me, I'll rather see a 15hp electric assist system than 3 additional speeds.

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Badge in the grille for ATS and CTS, raised hood ornament on the big car. S-class has the raised hood ornament so you can line up poor people in the crosshairs before running them down. Gives the car that 3rd world dictator feel.

Win.

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It's as much about execution as it is about technical specs. Get steering feel, brake feel, ergonomics, throttle tip-in and response, suspension tuning, and NVH right, and you'd still have an awesome car even with just 230 hp and only six speeds (BMW 328i).

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It's as much about execution as it is about technical specs. Get steering feel, brake feel, ergonomics, throttle tip-in and response, suspension tuning, and NVH right, and you'd still have an awesome car even with just 230 hp and only six speeds (BMW 328i).

I'd agree on execution, that is what BMW does so well. But even the X3 now has an 8-speed, my guess is the next 3-series will as well. The 5-series because of its 8-speed gets 32 mpg. Cadillac has 2 more years to work on the ATS, a 32 mpg V6 should be there.

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I'd agree on execution, that is what BMW does so well. But even the X3 now has an 8-speed, my guess is the next 3-series will as well. The 5-series because of its 8-speed gets 32 mpg. Cadillac has 2 more years to work on the ATS, a 32 mpg V6 should be there.

The 528i doesn't get 32 mpg because it has an 8-speed. The 528i gets 32mpg because it has great low end torque (230 ft/lbs at 2600 rpm) and a very tall 8th gear ratio (1:0.67) It could have a 3 speed with that same top ratio and still get 32mpg.

The 535i only gets 29mpg with an 8-speed and 300hp. The Camaro can do 29mpg with a 6speed auto, 312hp V6, and no turbo..... so clearly the 8-speed isn't helping fuel economy.

GM has the powertrains to be able to hit your fuel economy standards.

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The 528i doesn't get 32 mpg because it has an 8-speed. The 528i gets 32mpg because it has great low end torque (230 ft/lbs at 2600 rpm) and a very tall 8th gear ratio (1:0.67) It could have a 3 speed with that same top ratio and still get 32mpg.

The 535i only gets 29mpg with an 8-speed and 300hp. The Camaro can do 29mpg with a 6speed auto, 312hp V6, and no turbo..... so clearly the 8-speed isn't helping fuel economy.

GM has the powertrains to be able to hit your fuel economy standards.

The 528i has had great low end torque forever, the engine is the same as the old car, but they are getting 4 mpg more now.

5-10 years ago when Toyota and Honda had 5-speeds, and GM was rolling out the 3800/4-speed combo, GM defenders said that was good enough, it had good fuel economy, etc. That didn't work out, the DOHC/5-speed Japanese cars continually racked up more market share. Cadillac can use a 6-speed, but when Mercedes, Infiniti, BMW, Lexus and Hyundai are using 7 or 8 gears, consumer perception will be that Cadillac is behind the curve.

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That's where educating the consumer to be more intelligent than just 'morer gears = betterer' is the job of a successful PR department. Get beyond the superficial; get technical.

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That's where educating the consumer to be more intelligent than just 'morer gears = betterer' is the job of a successful PR department. Get beyond the superficial; get technical.

The general consumer is too dumb to comprehend that.

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The 528i has had great low end torque forever, the engine is the same as the old car, but they are getting 4 mpg more now.

5-10 years ago when Toyota and Honda had 5-speeds, and GM was rolling out the 3800/4-speed combo, GM defenders said that was good enough, it had good fuel economy, etc. That didn't work out, the DOHC/5-speed Japanese cars continually racked up more market share. Cadillac can use a 6-speed, but when Mercedes, Infiniti, BMW, Lexus and Hyundai are using 7 or 8 gears, consumer perception will be that Cadillac is behind the curve.

Again, it's the final gear ratio that matters for highway cruising, not the number of gears. BMW could have left it as a 6-speed but changed the final two gears to be taller and the result would have been the same.

Oldsmobile at it's death was nearly all DOHC, and look how that turned out. The consumer doesn't know what DOHC means. They only know that Car and Driver says it's betterer.

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Again, it's the final gear ratio that matters for highway cruising, not the number of gears. BMW could have left it as a 6-speed but changed the final two gears to be taller and the result would have been the same.

Oldsmobile at it's death was nearly all DOHC, and look how that turned out. The consumer doesn't know what DOHC means. They only know that Car and Driver says it's betterer.

Well, let's compare the facts surrounding the two transmissions shall we? Facts, after all, are not subjective...

GM Hydramatic 6L50 (6-speed Automatic)

  • Max Input Torque Rating: 332 lb-ft (450 nm)
  • 1st: 4.06
  • 2nd: 2.37
  • 3rd: 1.55
  • 4th: 1.16
  • 5th: 0.85
  • 6th: 0.67
  • Rev: 3.20 (-)

ZF 8HP45 (8-speed Automatic)

  • Max Input Torque Rating: 332 lb-ft (450 nm)
  • 1st: 4.70
  • 2nd: 3.13
  • 3rd: 2.10
  • 4th: 1.67
  • 5th: 1.29
  • 6th: 1.00
  • 7th: 0.84
  • 8th: 0.67
  • Rev: 3.30 (-)

As you can see -- using the same final drive ratio -- both transmission will wind up having the same cruising rpm. The difference here is that the 8HP45 has a 4.7:1 1st gear compared to a 4.06:1 1st gear on the 6L50, hence it'll put 15% more torque to the wheels off the line resulting in slightly better acceleration. This also actually result in slightly worse fuel economy in the city, which is why the transmission typically starts in 2nd gear downshifting to 1st only if the driver aggressive stomps the pedal at a stoplight or at very low speeds (0~15 mph). It can afford to do so because the additional speed steps enables it to have a 2nd that is not too tall (between the 6-spd box's 1st and 2nd). On the flipside, the 8-spd does not hit 60mph in 2nd and the additional shift may actually cost it 0.1~0.2 sec in the "revered" 0-60 mph tests.

You typically see rapidly diminishing returns in performance and economy as you ratchet up the number of speeds a transmission has. Huge difference between 3 and 4. Big difference between 4 and 5 speeds. Small difference between 5 and 6. Tiny between 6 and 7. Anything over 7 speeds may not even register any tangible fuel savings -- at least not with MPG measured only to 2 significant figures on the window sticker. That's based on the benefits of ratios alone. If we consider the fact that 7 to 9 speed boxes probably need to add one additional planetary gear set which increases parasitic losses in any given speed, the rate of diminishing returns may be greater.

Point to ponder: What gives you more tangible fuel economy and performance gains? Replacing the torque converter with an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch (ala M-B AMG) or adding two speeds to the 6-speed Automatic?

Edited by dwightlooi
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It is too soon to tell what we will get with this package. But this will be the most important Cadillac to be made. They need to make the ATS the car that people get excited about and able to be easily sold in volume. If you can't sell a excellent cheaper Cadillac you will never push a 6 figure flagship even in low volume for a very long time.

If GM wants to show that Cadillac is world class they need to do it in their cheapest car and make it best in class. Not as good or almost as good but best.

BMW started to build on the 3 series and grew it into the othe lines of the more expensive cars.

The Alpha will touch so many cars they need to get it right. The Zeta was good but in cost cutting and other issues they left a little on the table. Weight and cost will be the main issues they can not mess up on. They need to bring it in so they can built a proper priced Chevy Coupe but they also need to keep the weght down so this platform will perform well with the Ecotec and stay relevant well into the future.

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Multi-speed transmissions are also large and complex. Compare the planetary gearbox in a Prius or Volt to a conventional automatic...

drive-unit-cutaway1-989x1023.jpg

Automatic_transmission_cut.jpg

For cars with no electric assist, double-clutch gearboxes are the way to go. AMG's system apparently combines the refinement of a slushbox with the responsiveness of a DSG-type system.

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The general consumer is too dumb to comprehend that.

Gee- that's why you EDUCATE them.

And I don't think it's stupidity as much as the fact that the information isn't presented to them.

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Thank you Dwight. That really backs up my statement that the equivilantly powered Camaro matches the 535i in fuel economy, yet has two fewer gears.

It's more than that...

Let's consider the GM 3.6 DI V6 (LLT) in RWD applications.

It makes 302~312hp @ 6300~6500 rpm and 270~278 lb-ft @ 5200, with a maximum engine speed of 6700 rpm.

The GM 6L50 has the following ratios 4.06 - 2.37 - 1.55 - 1.16 - 0.85 - 0.67

If the TCU shifts at 6700 rpm in each gear the rpms after each shift is as follows:-

1st - 2nd: 3911

2nd - 3rd: 4382

3rd - 4th: 5014

4th - 5th: 4909

5th - 6th: 5281

Basically, the engine speed is already where is ought with six speeds.

Now, lets consider the same engine fitted with a ZF 8HP45 (4.7 - 3.13 - 2.10 - 1.67 - 1.29 - 1.00 - 0.84 - 0.67)

1st - 2nd: 4462

2nd - 3rd: 4495

3rd - 4th: 5328

4th - 5th: 5175

5th - 6th: 5194

6th - 7th: 5628

7th - 8th: 5344

8-speeds may not even be of value in terms of performance. As you can see, in three of the gears the after shift rpm is actually above the 5200 rpm torque peak. That is not ideal because an engine pulls the hardest in ANY gear at the torque peak. You want to shift to where the torque peak is or a few hundred rpms before it arrives. You don't want to shift to a point after it and waste the meatiest areas under the torque curve. Performance aside it is also detrimental to seat of the pants feel. After each shift, will you rather have the driver feel an increase in the rate of acceleration as the needle climbs towards the torque peak? Or do you want him to feel the acceleration forces immediately start fading since you have landed just past the peak and it's all downhill from there?

That is why some 8-speed trannies sometimes skip gears during upshifts.

Edited by dwightlooi

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Thank you Dwight. That really backs up my statement that the equivilantly powered Camaro matches the 535i in fuel economy, yet has two fewer gears.

The 535i gets 20/30 mpg. No GM 6-cylinder hits 20 city or 30 highway. Even the 2.4 liter (184 hp) Regal is 19/30 mpg. And according to former GM management, RWD got bad fuel economy. So why is a 300 hp rear driver edging a 184 hp front driver in fuel economy? It isn't weight, the 535i is heavier, it's the ZF transmission.

I see 300 hp and 30 mpg as the minimum for the ATS and next-gen CTS. Hyundai has a 270 hp, 34 mpg car now, Cadillac has to one-up all these cars. Maybe 300 hp and 35 mpg is their target, no one has done that yet, but Ford already did 310 hp/31 mpg with the Mustang. Cadillac in 2013 should be better than a 2010 Mustang.

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