Motor Trend declares victor in epic BMW 3 Series versus Cadillac ATS battle

By AutoblogRSS feed

Posted Sep 27th 2012 9:00AM

Although many cars have tried, few have come even close to the capabilities exhibited by the BMW 3 Series. But the Cadillac ATS is a promising small sedan that could very well play spoiler to the most successful sports sedan on the globe. We’ve sampled both the ATS and the newest 3 Series, but Motor Trend had the chance to get both sport sedans together to test them out in its latest “Head 2 Head” video.

Right off the bat, M/T points out just how close these cars are in just about every category from size to weight to performance when comparing the 328i and ATS 2.0T variants. All of the dimensions are within just inches of each other and Cadillac’s weight-conscious construction of the ATS makes it just 10.9 kilograms (24 pounds) heavier than the 328i. Both cars use turbocharged 2.0-litre I4 engine, and while on paper the ATS delivers more horsepower and torque, M/T points out that BMW is known for underrating its engines and estimates true output to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 270+ horsepower.

On the track, the BMW barely edges out the Cadillac in 0-96 kilometre per hour (0-60) and 1/4-mile times, but for a true comparison of how the ATS stacks up, M/T’s Jonny Lieberman puts both cars through their paces along some of California’s best back roads. Surprisingly, with “sharper and crisper” steering and Magnetic Ride Control, the ATS seemed to be more impressive along the twisty roads than the BMW, but both cars’ biggest downfall was their manual transmissions. The shifter of the ATS exhibited a couple of issues that could seriously hamper performance, including a “ghost detent” when shifting into second gear and the need to double shift into gears, and Jonny really had nothing nice to say about the BMW’s shifter or throttle response, either.

We’re not going to play spoiler here, because regardless of which car is victorious in this head-to-head comparison, it’s clear that driving enthusiasts are the true winners. No spoiler here, folks. Check out the video below to see if BMW retains its dominance in this segment or if Cadillac has managed to dethrone the king.