A spirit of lightness and balance

Cadillac ATS / Overview / A spirit of lightness and balance

Making the Cadillac ATS one of the segment's lightest cars was a fundamental criterion for and the guiding principle during its development, but it was done in a nuanced manner that ensures a refined driving experience.

"Low weight gives the Cadillac ATS a more nimble and controllable feel, while also optimizing the performance and efficiency of the powertrains," said David Masch, ATS chief engineer. "But we were careful to manage the weight while maintaining Cadillac's signature levels of refinement."

Optimizing the Cadillac ATS's mass was the result of a four-pronged philosophy that included strict adherence to original architectural goals, measured load management throughout the vehicle, benchmarking components to see if lighter solutions were available and an overall culture that "weighed" the mass of every component in the car against all aspects of its development.

An aluminum hood, magnesium engine mount brackets and even lightweight, natural-fiber door trim panels contribute to the Cadillac ATS's low overall mass - and reflect the systematic approach of evaluating every gram that went into the car. But some weight was deemed not only beneficial, but essential to the Cadillac ATS's driving experience. An example is the cast iron differential: Engineers found they could improve fuel economy with a cast iron differential rather than a lighter aluminum version.

And while the rear suspension is mostly steel, the focus on load management and straight links enabled significant weight savings without using alternate materials. This helps offset the weight of the engine and transmission at the front of the vehicle, helping the Cadillac ATS deliver its near-perfect 50/50 weight balance, while also contributing to lower noise and vibration. A similar approach was taken on the wheels, where extra structural aluminum was strategically added to further reduce vibration.

"We approached development by counting all the grams in the ATS," said Masch. "We minimized them where we could and put them to the best use where they were needed."

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