Bullz-Eye was fortunate to have been invited to attend the 2012 North American International Auto Show and what an experience it was! The General provided us an in-depth glimpse at current, future and concept vehicles over a three-day period in Detroit. On Sunday night, Cadillac hosted the reveal of the all-new Cadillac ATS at the very cool College for Creative Studies in Detroit, and it was obvious to all that this was a big night for the folks at GM. The 2013 Cadillac ATS is a compact luxury sports sedan intended to challenge the world's best premium cars that also looks very sleek but muscular.
Although the ATS looked great, her performance on the road will also determine the success of this new entry from Cadillac. According to Cadillac, the rear-drive ATS brings Cadillac's blend of technologically driven performance, elegance and design to a new audience of spirited drivers. Cadillac wasn't messing around when it came to powertrains as Cadillac announced that a broad lineup of engines – including two four-cylinders and a V-6 for North America – delivers strong power to the ATS and capitalizes on the car's lightweight structure to complement its performance with efficiency. The optional engines include an all-new 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 270 horsepower (201 kW) and Cadillac's award-winning 3.6L V-6, estimated at 320 horsepower (238 kW). At 135hp/L, the new 2.0T is one of the most power-dense engines in the industry, topping engines from European competitors. ATS will offer both manual and automatic transmission options, along with rear-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations.
With top of the line performance and handling, what's also impressive is the fact that the ATS will deliver peak highway fuel economy of more than 30 mpg. Its sophisticated driving experience is enhanced with Cadillac CUE, a comprehensive in-vehicle user experience that merges intuitive design with industry-first controls and commands for information and media data. Cadillac provided on-sight demonstrations of CUE at the ATS reveal. CUE's audio functions also include standard AM/FM radio, integrated iPod/MP3/smartphone media player connectivity, multi-device music indexing, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and applications such as Pandora. Cadillac tells us that among the additional CUE features are built-in turn-by-turn navigation, natural speech recognition, hands-free calling, and multiple device Bluetooth synchronization – all controlled by a vibrant icon-based touch screen that features haptic feedback, user-customizable menus and a concealed storage tray for cell phones and other devices.
On Monday morning, we switched gears after a ride on the people mover from the Ren Center to Cobo Hall for the 2013 Chevy Sonic RS reveal. Chevy execs spoke about the millennial group entering driving ages by the millions and Chevy wants to do business with these young Americans. Enter the 2013 Chevy Sonic RS, which Chevy claims amplifies the Sonic's youthful style and driving experience with unique exterior and interior features matched with a 138-horsepower (103 kW) Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine. At this point in time, Sonic is the only vehicle in its segment to offer a turbocharged powertrain and that should get some buzz for this car very quickly. Per Chevy, the more-aggressive look of the Sonic RS is inspired by the concept that debuted in Detroit in 2010. The Sonic RS will be available in Victory Red, Summit White, Cyber Gray Metallic and Black Granite Metallic, which is a new exterior color for the 2013 Sonic. I spoke with plenty of people about the new Sonic and the sentiment was that Chevy has really made a serious contender and possible leader in the sub compact segment and we're very anxious to give it a spin!
After the reveal, Bullz-Eye was afforded the opportunity to sit down with Mark Reuss, President of General Motors North America, for a Q&A session, and we found Mr. Reuss to be focused like a laser on not only producing great cars but actually making a profit on small cars like the Chevy Sonic. They liked us so much that the next morning we were given a tour and sneak peek at the venerable OnStar Headquarters located in the GM Ren Center. The OnStar staff was very knowledgeable and the command center resembled something from the movies, or what you'd expect the pentagon or national weather center to look like. I never realized the sheer volume of calls and assistance delivered by OnStar, so I have a newfound respect for that division.
The people at Buick weren't just going to sit back and watch Cadillac and Chevy steal the show, so they revealed the all-new 2013 Buick Encore, and I must say, this compact luxury crossover is a looker my friends. We sat down with a few Buick execs and although they know the company is doing very well at this moment, it's clear that they are not taking anything for granted and want to see Buick reach new levels of success. Buick can really grow sales with the new Encore, which features QuietTuning and Buick's first use of active noise cancellation technology. The five-passenger Encore also has 48.4 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seat folded down. "Buick Encore is a great-looking, smart choice for those who want luxury crossover amenities in a more maneuverable and agile vehicle," said Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick Marketing. "It represents a luxury alternative for a new audience of Buick customers, and delivers features and flexibility not typically found in vehicles of its size today."
Buick states that additional features include 10 standard air bags and an Ecotec 1.4L turbo four-cylinder/six-speed automatic powertrain, along with standard and available technologies such as Buick's voice-activated IntelliLink, which uses Bluetooth or a USB to connect the driver's smartphone to a high-resolution, full-color seven-inch LCD display radio. Inside, the Encore's organic styling carries over to a flowing instrument panel that wraps naturally into the door panels. A prominent, central instrument panel houses the large, full-color seven-inch LCD display for the IntelliLink voice-activated radio system. It also features displays for the SiriusXM satellite radio, as well as available navigation and rear camera systems. A contemporary mix of dark and light tones distinguishes the cabin, which is accented with ice blue ambient lighting, select use of bright trim and wood-grain trim. Premium seats featuring high-density foam for greater comfort on long drives are trimmed with either a contemporary cloth/leatherette motif or available leather. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are available. The rear seat features a fold-down armrest with cup holders. Overall Buick has designed a compact luxury to "win" in this segment and we see a lot of promise with the Encore.
We weren't finished yet as GM took us digital media types to the Warren Tech Center where we experienced some of GM's most advanced design technologies and had a nice chat with designers Joe Baker and Nick David. We also enjoyed a 3D review of two concept vehicles which was eye opening and had the opportunity to enter the VR room/CAVE that assist designers in their quest to build interiors that fit around their customers. It's always a learning experience when you go behind the doors of a company and meet the people who have the pressure of designing and marketing vehicles in a hyper competitive world.