Imagine a world where the Cadillac ATS would essentially be the next Cimarron. That world was nearly a reality.
“We were going to do a front-wheel-drive Cadillac compact off of Delta because it was going to be less expensive,” Doug Parks, GM’s vice president of global product programs, told Automotive News. “There were people in the organization saying, ‘It’ll be OK. We can dial it in.'”
For those who don’t know, GM utilizes the front-wheel-drive Delta vehicle architecture for the Chevrolet Cruze and Buick Verano. It is a great FWD platform, but not for the segment the ATS competes in. AN continues to note that developers were so set on making the ATS a front-wheel-drive car, that Parks ended up driving a prototype test mule with a 2.0L turbocharged engine around a track in Spain.
“We actually made it pretty darn good,” Parks continued to confess. “But in reality, you can’t go beat BMW or Mercedes when you don’t have the right weight balance and everything else.”
In conclusion, Parks stated that “we finally just said ‘That ain’t good enough. We’ve got to do a very light, properly designed, rear-wheel-drive architecture.”
The GM Authority Take
No kidding, guys. But perhaps the part that takes us aback the most is not that GM switched the ATS to a proper RWD architecture, but that there were some within GM who still thought Cadillac could get away with a front-wheel-drive car in that segment, even years after the Cimarron. We wager that if developers didn’t find it in themselves to do it right with a rear-wheel-drive architecture, the Cadillac ATS would not have won all of the awards it did, or have made the impact it continues to make even today. So in that regard, we’re grateful the ATS is based on a proper rear-wheel-drive platform. And to build momentum, the all-new 2014 CTS will utilize the Alpha blueprints, as will the sixth-generation Chevy Camaro.