You already know that the Cadillac ATS was conceived as a thoroughbred sport luxury sedan. But what you may not know about are the various aspects of the compact Alpha-based Cadillac that contribute to the sport-tuned driving dynamics, such as PAL.
The acronym stands for Performance Algorithm Liftfoot — a technology that improves acceleration control and handling during bouts of spirited driving through the twisties. PAL recognizes when the driver pushes the vehicle while negotiating a curve, and automatically downshifts the gearbox to a lower gear to improve acceleration out of the corner. The technology, which is found in ATS models with the six-speed automatic transmission, is optimized for quick-shift timing. In effect, PAL minimizes unneeded shifting and allows the driver to focus on the road and enjoy the ride. Pretty cool, huh?
Things get even more interesting when the ATS is in the driver-selected “Sport” suspension mode and the driver takes curves with sufficient lateral force. That’s when the transmission computer calls for downshifts to ensure the right gear is readily available. In general, lower gears are helpful when it comes to braking into and maintaining control through the turn, as well as accelerating out of the corner.
So as the driver continues to subject the ATS to high-throttle driving and aggressive braking, the transmission will maintain lower gears to assist in acceleration and in preparing for the next corner. Yet during more moderate driving conditions (such as slower acceleration and less aggressive cornering), the gearbox will upshift sequentially through the gears, exiting PAL mode.
The GM Authority Take
PAL is certainly a driver’s pal (pun intended). But we’d still buy the ATS with the stick.