Compact luxury sedans are fast becoming the trend among upscale automakers. Mercedes has the new CLA (and its many platform-mates), BMW has the 1 Series and 2 Series, Audi has the A3 and, though Lexus apparently isn't interested in anything smaller than its CT 200h, Infiniti is getting in on the action with a compact model of its own. It would only follow logically, then, that Cadillac should launch a competitor, and according to the latest reports, that's just what it has in store.

Speaking with Car and Driver, Cadillac marketing chief Uwe Ellinghaus confirmed that such a project is in the works. But unlike its rivals, Cadillac aims to go with a rear-wheel-drive layout. This despite research that apparently indicates that a surprising 80 percent of owners think that their BMW 1 Series is front-drive. It's the driving dynamics and styling proportions that motivate Ellinghaus and his colleagues to stick with rear-drive, however.

The new model would in all likelihood be based on the same GM Alpha architecture that underpins the ATS and CTS – a platform that has helped Cadillac keep the weight down on both models and which is expected to underpin the next-generation Chevy Camaro, as well. The sub-ATS could be positioned as a four-door 2+2, however, as the ATS grows a little larger in its next iteration in order to make room for its new baby brother.

Expect four-cylinder engines – including the 2.0-liter turbo four and a replacement for the base 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four found in the ATS – to provide the motivation, but it may be another few years before the new compact model arrives as part of an expanded Caddy family to launch upwards as well with a new flagship sedan. Just what Cadillac would call it, however, remains a mystery, as the ATS obviously starts the nomenclature succession at the start of the alphabet.


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  • 74 Comments
      Joe Liebig
      • 4 Months Ago

      A3 and CLA are compact hatchbacks, which were given a trunk to be sold on the US market (which for no good reason does not absorb hatchbacks well).

      This Caddi would be a downsized version of a mid-size sedan.

      Different strategies here.

      I don't think either of the cars make sense. ATS, A4 and the like are small enough for a sedan. Smaller only makes sense in hatchback form, as you still get a usable second row.

        Jeff
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Joe Liebig

        Not everyone wants or needs a sedan the size of an A4 or larger (185 in long, 3500+ lbs, 104 cu. ft int. space).  A smaller alternative is perfectly acceptable, particularly if it maintains the good driving dynamics and doesn't sacrifice on powertrain quality.  

        And speaking of size, an A3 is roughly the size of a Honda Civic dimensionally and there are well over 1 million 4-door versions of those compact cars sold in the US annually (Civic, Corolla, Elantra, Cruze, Focus, Mazda3, etc.). 

        I know the size works for my family.  Despite having 4 kids, I don't need anything larger.  An A3 or comparably sized Cadillac is fine as my primary use of the vehicle is driving to and from work.  When I need the rear seats, plenty of room for kids as it's NOT the primary family transportation, have something larger for that.  I like the A3 & CLA, particularly the S3.  Looking forward to seeing the Cadillac version and wondering when BMW will introduce their 4-door version to compete.


          Dynasty Miller
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Jeff

          thank you joe. The extra space is more often a luxury than a need. A-lot of single moms drive compact cars and survive just fine.

          Lab Ninja
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Jeff

          I do believe that's the 2-series.

          Tom
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Jeff

          BMW and Mercedes do not have to compete with Cadillac, but  Caddie

          does.  It not the same.

        Teleny411
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Joe Liebig

        This would be more of niche car.  Frankly, I have no need for a boat like 3 series or the practicality of a hatch.   Considering they have the platform why not makes the best in class?

      TooManyCars
      • 4 Months Ago

      Good luck with that one.


      omgcool
      • 4 Months Ago

      I'm all for another Cadillac, and kudos for committing to RWD, but I'm not for this at all. Who ever said the ATS was too big? I can't fathom this will be worth the engineering costs. Put it toward the S-class fighter flagship, which will build the brand cache. Better yet, a sub-Escalade SUV about Lambda-size. I suspect that would be a much smarter decision from a financial standpoint.

      Also, if they're going to have to stretch the ATS to get this new car to fit in the lineup, the CTS will be next. By then, perhaps it'll be time to stretch the yet-to-be-released flagship. I'm sure I don't know the whole story, but this seems like the sedans will be stepping on each others' toes.

      Just for fun, here's my prediction: the generation after this upcoming crop of Cadillacs, one model range will be killed off because it "doesn't make a whole lot of sense to keep."

      Awhattup
      • 4 Months Ago

      I think the ATS is really tiny already. 

      Mark
      • 4 Months Ago

      Personally I feel like the Verano Turbo is a perfect alternative to the CLA and A3 sedan, why GM isn't getting the word out about that car is beyond me. I bet most of the public who's in the market for such a car don't even know the Verano exists.

        normc32
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Mark
        I have the Verano 2.0T 6MT and love it! It has a tune, intake and exhaust and runs past any Japanese V6 this side of a GT-R and punches 40+ mpgs. I picked up used for a little over $20,000. It is no canyon carver but eats up highway like none other it's size.
      Bernard
      • 4 Months Ago

      Dear Cadillac,

      Please don't fall for this trap. Let the Germans go after the cheap car market. You already have Buick for that stuff.

        TopGun
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Bernard

        Audi already has VW for that too...hasn't stopped them.

        I'm not disagreeing in principle, it's just that a brand sure seems to mean a lot these days.

          Bernard
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TopGun
          Most of Audi's lineup are rebadged VW's with nicer materials and an AWD option. So I wouldn't really use Audi as a template for luxury.
        Rochester
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Bernard

        I agree. Cadillac has already cornered the market for expensive cars made cheaply, successfully duping the automotive world for decades.

          Matt
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Rochester

          That's about as ignorant of a comment that I've seen today.

          Ryan
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Rochester

          Oh blah blah blah, you can blow your smoke on here all you want but anyone who has actually driven the new Cadlillacs such as the ATS and CTS know better. Also, if you are any sort of auto enthusiast and have actually read the reviews and comparisons then you would know better even if you haven't experienced it for yourself. 

      muspod
      • 4 Months Ago
      Cadillac already has one.  It's called ATS.
      Eta Carinae
      • 4 Months Ago

      No cadillac....nothing should slot under the ATS...there is a reason it is the "A"TS....focus on your coupes. ...A new CTS coupe is a no brainer and the design better be radical, a production Elmiraj of course, and a future XLR.......

      GM needs to start treating cadillac and buick as one entity....each brand offering certain models that play to there liking...buick should offer the small town cars and let cadillac handle the big expensive cars....now there will be some model layover (both flagship, SUV's etc.) But they can be geared toward different customers....make the ATS more luxurious (ala 15' C-Class, yes mercedes is going to be a problem ) and its up from there.....

      justin
      • 4 Months Ago

      The ATS already has a vestigial back seat.  Will the new model be a 2+2 lap-dogs?

        slap
        • 4 Months Ago
        @justin

        I'm 6 feet tall, and with the drivers seat set the way I like it, I could get in the back seat behind the driver.  There was no spare room, though.  But more room than the older BMW 3 and Mercedes C.

        Rob8
        • 4 Months Ago
        @justin

        That trunk is almost unusable also, that with the battery located in it too.

        Larry Litmanen
        • 4 Months Ago
        @justin

        And it is odd because from the outside ATS look like a normal sized car. From what i read rear seat is not just small, it is basically unusable.

        LiteMix
        • 4 Months Ago
        @justin

        I rent a new Cadillac ATS (Thank you ZipCar) from time to time, and have not received any real complaints regarding space from any of the full grown adults that are often riding with me.  It's all a matter of how much space is a necessity to you I guess.

      Scooter
      • 4 Months Ago

      RWD.... Something with under 300hp does not need a RWD setup. The duties of the daily driver, entry luxury compact don't call for RWD. Anyways it might be a decent idea. ATS simply averages too high per transaction. Its not as affordable as it should be. As long as it doesn't end up like Acuras abortion worthy ILX thing. 

      ihyln
      • 4 Months Ago

      Wasn't the ATS supposed to be the 3 series killer? What happened with that? More importantly, the CLA is of clown car proportions and not fit for actual adults so a rear wheel drive ATS that's the size of a CLA will be even smaller? lol @ gm.

      Lachmund
      • 4 Months Ago

      Rear wheel drive doesn't make much sense in such a small package as interior space is compromised heavily in the back imho

        Ryan
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Lachmund

        So Cadillac decides it wants to build a small sedan with rear wheel drive that would appeal to almost all auto enthusiast over front wheel drive and thats a bad thing? 

        Personally, I APPLAUD Cadillac for their decision to make it fun, not practical. 

        Card13
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Lachmund

        You probably don't like your passengers very much if you're trying to squeeze 3 in the back of a subcompact. 2 people in the back of a small RWD sedan should be fine (relatively speaking, of course)

        Justin Campanale
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Lachmund
        The AMC Gremlin and Spirit would like to have a word with you. 
          ferps
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Justin Campanale

          @flammablewater, the new ones don't kill you if get in a fender bender.

          Lachmund
          • 4 Months Ago *Edited*
          @Justin Campanale

          Not sure if serious. Sarcasm?! lol?!

          flammablewater
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Justin Campanale

          Yeah, why are small RWD cars from the 70s & 80s so large on the inside (comparatively) but new ones have back seats fit only for legless children despite being bigger on the outside?

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