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Cadillac tries small luxury with 2013 ATS

Cadillac wants to go up against BMW, Audi, and Mercedes in the compact luxury class.

Cadillac returns to small luxury sedans with the compact 2013 ATS. Tim Hornyak/CNET

DETROIT--Cadillac returned to smaller luxury cars today with the unveiling of the 2013 ATS, a compact sedan that's meant to go head-to-head with rivals from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.

Following the announcement of the larger XTS a few months ago, the luxury arm of General Motors took the wraps off the ATS at the 2012 North American International Auto Show, describing the compact luxury class as central to its competitiveness.

Weighing less than 3,400 pounds, the ATS has options including a new 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that's rated at 270 horsepower and the popular 3.6L V-6 at 320 horsepower. It will be able to do more than 30 mpg on the highway, according to the company.

Rear wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations will be offered when it goes on sale this summer in North America.

Cadillac, which has produced compacts such as the Catera in the past, is hoping the ATS will lure a whole new, younger generation of drivers to luxury sedans.

"This is an all-new architecture for this Cadillac, and we did this because we knew we had to bring the best of the best to this segment," says product director Hampden Tener. "This compact luxury segment is arguably the most important luxury segment globally."

Features include the fast-acting magnetic ride control damping system for a smoother ride, and a five-link independent rear suspension consisting of lightweight steel.

Inside, the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) presents a comprehensive information and entertainment control system for vehicle functions and personal devices. It works with up to 10 Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices, USBs, SD cards, and MP3 players.

Check out more pics of the ATS in our photo gallery.