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Cadillac to fight Audi A3, Mercedes CLA with small rear-drive sedan?

Mon, 18 Aug 2014

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.

By Noah Joseph

See also: 2015 Cadillac Escalade gets 8-speed auto, range-topping Platinum Collection trim, Chrysler, Nissan looking into claim that their cars are industry's most hackable, Cadillac releases updated 2015 CTS.