Click to enlarge picture2013 Cadillac ATS (© Rod Hatfield)

2013 Cadillac ATS

Click to enlarge picture2013 Cadillac ATS (© Rod Hatfield)

2013 Cadillac ATS

We thought Cadillac was taking on the BMW 3-Series nine years ago when it first introduced the CTS. The Caddy did compete with the 3 on price, but it was much larger. Now the CTS is even larger — bigger than the 5-Series, in fact. However, Cadillac premiered a vehicle in Detroit that will once again take on the mighty 3: the ATS.

The ATS is a true compact sedan, and by the looks of it, the new Caddy may be a worthy competitor to the 3. We'll need to drive it to render a final judgment, but the car that Cadillac unveiled at the North American International Auto Show certainly looks promising.

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2013 Cadillac ATS

Click to enlarge picture2013 Cadillac ATS (© Rod Hatfield)

2013 Cadillac ATS

Click to enlarge picture2013 Cadillac ATS (© Rod Hatfield)

2013 Cadillac ATS

Click to enlarge picture2013 Cadillac ATS (© Rod Hatfield)

2013 Cadillac ATS

What is it? A compact sedan designed to compete with the BMW 3-Series

What's hot? The Cadillac ATS marks the debut of General Motors' new global rear-wheel-drive platform, which likely will also host the 2015 Chevrolet Camaro and 2015 Cadillac CTS. Cadillac promises the ATS will weigh less than the lightest cars in the class, use aluminum and magnesium suspension components, and offer all-wheel drive and Cadillac's Magnetic Ride Control suspension. It will also feature a choice of three engines: a pair of 4-cylinders in the Ecotec 2 range — a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter and a turbocharged 2.0-liter — and a 3.6-liter V6. The 2.5 will pump out 200 horsepower; the 2.0 will make 270 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque; and the 3.6 will develop 318 horsepower.

What's not? The idea of a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine in a Cadillac doesn't sound appropriate. Luxury cars should get more power than that.

How much and when? The price has yet to be announced, but it should be about $30,000 when the ATS goes on sale this summer.

MSN Autos verdict: Compacts make up the biggest portion of the luxury market, so it was a natural for Cadillac to build a 3-Series fighter. If it handles as well as or better than the CTS, Cadillac should have a hit on its hands. The turbocharged four and the V6 engines should be fun.

Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.