“A Whiter Shade of Pale” 2013 Cadillac ATS AWD

2013 Cadillac ATS AWD Performance Collection

    It may not be a good characterization of the Cadillac ATS test car’s color, but the paint on it was extremely white, and attractive.  It was a Diamond Tricoat (a three-layer painting process) upgraded color that added $995 to the Cadillac’s window sticker.

The song, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” rocketed to No. 1 in the U.K. in 1967, and without fanfare it reached No. 5 in America, as well.  It was the debut number of the British rock band Procol Harum and is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  The original manager of the group, Guy Stevens, named the group after a friend’s cat (really?).  One of the song’s co-writers, Keith Reid, overheard someone at a party tell a woman “You’ve turned a whiter shade of pale”, and he couldn’t get the phrase out of his mind.  Procol Harum is one of the most misspelled group names in existence, and in fact I could barely get it registered on this keyboard.

ATS, on the other hand, is easy to spell, but I cannot determine its meaning.  Being Super Bowl weekend as of this writing, all I can come up with is “against the spread”.  In Cadillac parlance, the ATS is the new compact luxury sedan introduced in August of last year.  GM developed the car in their Warren, Michigan technical center and they assemble it down the road in Lansing.  It is Cadillac’s smallest offering.

I picked up my test ATS at Ghent Motors early last week, and immediately was attracted to the Morello Red and Jet Black leather interior with carbon fiber trim.  This car had the “Performance Collection” of assets – aluminum pedals, bolstered buckets, paddle transmission shifters, high intensity swivel headlamps, and Bose surround sound stereo.  Also present were moon roof ($1,050), machined-finish 18” alloy wheels ($800), cold weather package ($600), and a navigation package with backup camera ($795).  Those items, added to the aforementioned paint, brought the total M.S.R.P. with freight to $50,830.

The Cadillac ATS is pretty sporty, featuring magnetic ride control, which reacts to road conditions ten times faster than the blink of an eye.  It is a technology borrowed from Corvette and by Ferrari.  I drove a V6 powered ATS with 3.6 liters and 321 horsepower.  Behind it was a six-speed automatic transmission and 3.27 axle ratio (all-wheel drive).  Zero to 60 elapsed time is reportedly 5.4 seconds and top speed is 152 mph.  Economy?  City-19 mpg, and highway-26 mpg.

The ATS features athletic, chiseled styling with the LED running lights glowing out front as well as chrome, dual exhaust finishers emanating a distinctive note in the rear.  The alloy wheels are surrounded by 225/40R18 Michelin Primacy all-season run-flat radials.  And light stripes are present on the chrome door handles as are puddle lights under the outside mirrors.

With its ATS, Cadillac has targeted BMW’s 3 Series and its nearly 100,000 annual sales figure.  I’m sure they are hopeful that the ATS will blast off like Procol Harums’ hit song did in June of 1967.  The car certainly won’t “Pale” in comparison to the Bimmer – it may even end up being considered the “Cadillac” of compact luxury sedans.

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