Hundreds of testing hours in wind tunnel helps reduce drag, wind noise
DETROIT — The 2013 Cadillac ATS’s all-new vehicle architecture provided Cadillac designers with the unique opportunity to tailor the compact luxury sedan’s styling and refinement cues to improve driving performance. This aspect of the ATS’s development is highlighted in the fifth chapter of a YouTube video series.
“The primary function of the ATS is to be a driver’s car, fun to drive, nimble and quick,” said Bob Boniface, Cadillac exterior design director. “It has a great powertrain, great chassis, so we wanted the exterior design to reinforce that message. We worked very closely with Engineering to ensure our design met all of the performance metrics they had set out.”
A long, 109.3-inch (2,775 mm) wheelbase and wide front/rear tracks are the cornerstones of the ATS’s firmly planted stance, which is enhanced by short overhangs and taut sheet metal that appears to wrap tightly around the tires.
Cadillac’s prominent shield grille is more agile and athletic, featuring active grille shutters that close at certain highway speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag and enhance fuel economy. The center, high mounted stop light (CHMSL) on the rear decklid provides downforce to improve aerodynamic performance.
“When you start a new program, a new architecture, it’s much different than re-skinning something else. The opportunity is both challenging and rewarding,” said Taki Karras, Cadillac ATS exterior design manager. “The ATS has a lot of gesture in the line work and that leads to the overall performance nature.”
The ATS’s clay models and full sheet metal models spent hundreds of hours in wind tunnel testing to reduce wind noise and drag, improve air flow and performance and enhance fuel economy.
A driver-focused interior with integrated technology and crafted materials complements the exterior elements and supports the ATS’s driving experience. Everything from the placement of the pedals to the position of the shifter is designed for effortless and intuitive performance driving. Available performance seats have power-adjustable bolsters to optimize lateral support during high-load cornering
“I think what will surprise people most when they get in the ATS is we’ve given them a beautiful driving environment with plenty of space in what seems like a small exterior,” said Eric Clough, Cadillac interior design director.
Contributing to the interior’s intuitive feel is an instrument panel that wraps into the doors and a center stack in the mid-instrument panel that flows into the center console. LED lighting for the bold gauge cluster enables clear, at-a-glance viewing in all lighting conditions, while ambient lighting accents functional elements of the console and doors.
“When you drive this car, its combination of design, powertrain and engineering and interior design. It’s the entire package,” Boniface said. “This isn’t just another car, it’s a Cadillac.”