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Cadillac shows off new 2016 ATS-V

Melissa Burden and Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Los Angeles — The ATS-V is the beginning of a new lineup of high-performance luxury vehicles for Cadillac, according to brand chief Johan de Nysschen.

The new Cadillac president said the 2016 rear-wheel-drive car, which was unveiled Tuesday night at a Los Angeles photography studio ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show, is one of five new V-Series models that the General Motors Co. luxury brand plans to introduce by 2020.

"You are participating in the shaping of history," de Nysschen said during the unveiling. "You are witnessing the next chapter in the long history of this storied brand, and you're witnessing a 112-year-old carmaker taking the bold step of reinventing itself."

Cadillac, De Nysschen said, plans to make the V-Series its own sub-brand. He said the next model will be the CTS-V. It is expected to be released early next year.

The former Audi and Infiniti exec said the V-Series vehicles will be halos for Cadillac, helping the brand attract auto enthusiasts and reinvent itself as a thoroughbred, luxury performance brand.

"(Auto enthusiasts) are opinion leaders in their own social circles, and it's important to have those people embrace our brand," he told The Detroit News following the unveiling of the ATS-V. "We need to give them something to provide substance and credibility for the repositioning of Cadillac."

The Cadillac ATS-V Coupe arrives track-capable from the factory next spring, powered by the first-ever twin-turbocharged engine in a V-Series. Rated at an estimated 455 horsepower (339 kW) and 445 lb-ft of torque (603 Nm), the 3.6L V-6 is the segment’s highest-output six-cylinder and enables 0-60 performance of less than 4 seconds and a top speed of more than 185 mph.

Cadillac rolled out its high-performance V-Series in 2004 on its CTS sedan, and later introduced it out to the coupe and wagon versions of the car.

The ATS-V, available in coupe and sedan styles, goes into production in the spring. It is expected to arrive in dealerships in May.

The ATS-V will include a 3.6-liter V-6 twin-turbocharged engine — the first offered in a Cadillac V-Series car — and new design and performance systems to boost performance. Cadillac says the car is track-ready from the factory floor and offers a sophisticated luxury driving experience on the road, with a top speed of 189 miles per hour and 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds.

"Stacked up against the competition, nobody is faster. Nobody has a higher top speed," said Dave Leone, Cadillac chief engineer, adding the ATS-V is the fastest production Cadillac ever produced.

The ATS-V's twin-turbo is rated at 455 horsepower and 445 foot-pounds of torque. Cadillac says the engine is tops in the segment for six-cylinder output. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual or a paddle-shift eight-speed automatic.

Cadillac did not announce pricing for the ATS-V, but Leone said it will be competitively priced with the competition in the low-$60,000 range.

Engineers redesigned the chassis, suspension and drivetrain for the ATS-V. The car includes Brembo high-performance brakes, third-generation Magnetic Ride Control and is stiffer structurally. It has touring, sport and track driving modes, an available track aerodynamic package and rides on specially developed Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.

Designers changed nearly all exterior panels of the car including fascias, fenders, the lightweight carbon fiber hood with vent and rear spoiler, to support capability and aerodynamics.

"Everything on the car is on the car for a reason; to elevate the driving experience, to elevate the performance of the vehicle," said Andrew Smith, executive director of Cadillac global design.

The interior features available 16-way adjustable Recaro seats in the front and cut-and-sew Cadillac elements throughout.

Analysts say the ATS could benefit from a special model to boost appeal. Cadillac rolled out its ATS compact luxury sedan in fall 2012 as a 2013 model and this fall began offering a Coupe version. But sales have stalled and are down nearly 19 percent this year through October.

"As the CTS and ATS struggle in sales, product clearly isn't the issue," Akshay Anand, a Kelley Blue Book analyst, said in a statement. "As Cadillac continues to undergo its brand transformation, staying in the limelight will be key as it attempts to take down German luxury marques. The ATS could really use a halo vehicle, especially since all its competitors have performance variations as well."

The ATS-V will compete against vehicles such as the BMW M3/M4, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and Audi RS 5. A M3 sedan starts around $62,000 and the C63 AMG at about $63,000.

The ATS-V will be built at GM's Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant.

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