Cadillac is looking to bolster its lineup by introducing a rear-wheel drive sports sedan that will be slotted just below the ATS. The disclosure was made to Road & Track by Cadillac executive chief engineer Dave Leone at the 2016 North American International Auto Show.

According to Leone, the model will be Cadillac’s entrant into a market that’s already teeming with competitors, most notably the Mercedes CLA-Class. But this new model - it doesn’t have a name yet - could end up holding a trump card if it does end up as a rear-wheel drive model, something neither the CLA-Class, nor other front-wheel drive models like the Audi S3 or the Acura ILX have. Having a rear-wheel drive setup could help the Caddy stand out.

Leone didn’t dive into the nitty-gritty of the new model, but there has been some whispers that the model would use a version of Cadillac’s Alpha platform, which is already being used by both the ATS and the CTS sedans. It makes sense from a financial standpoint because the company won’t have to build a dedicated platform just for this new model. But, there’s also a caveat, particularly how the company would navigate around a platform that’s engineered for big models. It could rework the architecture and shrink the platform itself, but doing so presents its own challenges, something Cadillac would have to address if it does green light the production of this sub-ATS sports sedan.

Hopefully, Cadillac takes its time to discuss this model and doesn’t rush anything for the sake of rushing. History already paints a pretty disturbing picture from the last time Caddy pushed a model to production in the face of rising competition from its European rivals. Yes, almost 28 years since it was mercifully killed off, the Cadillac Cimarron’s stink hasn’t dissipated yet.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

There’s enough reason to believe that Cadillac is really serious about pursuing this even though it’s probably in the company’s best interest to think this through before it takes the dive. I’m pretty sure the decision-makers there are well aware of that embarrassing episode in the company’s history.

In all seriousness though, this new entry-level sports sedan, if it gets green lit, will be another big step for Cadillac as it tries to re-establish its presence in light of more competition coming from both Europe and Asia. For now, the details about the model don’t matter because Caddy itself isn’t so sure about what it has, but the important thing is this is apparently now on the table.

Having an entry-level sports sedan to slot below the ATS would create a clear distinction for the two models. This helps the ATS, and the CTS to a lesser extent, not over-extend itself and try to compete with models from different segments. With a model occupying the entry-level sedan segment, it would allow the ATS to turn its full attention on models like the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3-Series, and Audi S4, leaving the competition against the CLA-Class, Acura ILX, and Buick Verano squarely into the hands of this new model.

Should plans for this new model progress, we can at least expect to have more details about the car come to light. How is it going to look? What kind of engines will it have? Is it strictly going to be rear-wheel drive, or is it possible to fit an all-wheel drive system in there?

Here’s to hoping that some of these questions are answered sooner than later.

Cadillac ATS

2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan Exterior
- image 558270

Read our full review on the Cadillac ATS here.

Source: Road & Track

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