California dreaming

Overseas motor shows are always such a tease for us Aussies, case in point being the new Cadillac ATS.

The new ATS is sized to compete directly with the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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You read right

With its rear-wheel drive layout, the small Caddy hopes to give the ever-popular BMW 3-Series a run for its money. Engine options include a turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.6-litre V6.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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Fast forward

Remember GM's American horrors from the '70s, '80s and '90s? Well, the new ATS is nothing like that. There's good quality material throughout the cabin, including leather on the dashboard. Although that wood trim is a bit ick.

And, yes, that's a six-speed manual transmission. There's a six-speed auto, too, if you'd like.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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Experience it

The ATS features Caddy's new touchscreen entertainment and nav system, dubbed CUE for Cadillac User Experience. It seems responsive enough, but screen resolution is more 2008 than 2012.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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Feelings

Capacitive touch buttons are present for the climate control system, as well as basic entertainment functions. Thankfully, there are faux metal embellishments to help you operate without looking away from the road.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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Thank you Bear Stearns

There were firm plans to launch Caddy in Australia, until the 2008 global financial meltdown sailed the good ship GM into the rocky shores of bankruptcy and the arms of a US government bailout.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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Not your daddy's Caddy, part I

In the not so distant past, Cadillacs rolled, pitched and yawed like a dingy captained by a drunken sailor attempting the Sydney to Hobart race. Caddy promises that the new ATS follows the same path carved out by the larger, critically acclaimed CTS.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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Not your daddy's Caddy, part II

The car pictured here is a race-ready CTS coupe.

Derek Fung travelled to the Detroit Motor Show as a guest of Ford.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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