Well not exactly. But the ATS wasn’t the hit GM thought it would have been. With it along with the CTS being on the way out for 2019 to make way for the 2 in one CT5, I think it’s safe to say that the Germans and Japanese had nothing to worry about from the ATS sales wise.
The ATS debuted for the ‘13 model year to big fan fare. It of course had big shoes to fill. Here was yet another attempt to try and dethrone the benchmark 3 Series. Except this time GM finally got it right. The car put everyone on notice. With a trio of engines (the base 2.5 is and always will be terrible and the 2.0T had its own problems) along with the V Series, it showed that America could be taken seriously in the sport sedan category. Some have even said that the ATS was better than the 3 Series.
But like the bigger CTS, sales never took off. Its first year on the market, 2012, it sold 7,008. The 3 Series and C Class both sold 107,705 and 86,938 respectively. The ATS second year on the market,2013, it sold just under 39,000.It would never sell that many again.
Every year since 2014, the ATS has gone down sales wise: 29,890 in ‘14, 26,873 in ‘15, 21,505 in ‘16, 13,100 last year, and as of this writing through July its only 7,748. Now can this be blamed on crossovers and the overall abandonment (supposedly) of sedans? It could be, if you’re looking for an easy reason sure. But it hasn’t stopped anything over at BMW and Mercedes. Just under 60,000 3 Series found homes last year and nearly 78,000 C Classes. Hell even this year Alfa Romeo is closing in with just 528 units separating the ATS from the Giulia. The only sport sedan that sells less is the Jaguar XE.
To be frank, people weren’t interested in the ATS and sadly it still shows. A quick Cargurus search will show you plenty of 2017’s still sitting on lots with many dealers still selling them for over 35 grand. So is it a stretch to say that the ATS was a Cimarron 2.0? In a sense. The Cimarron was a piece of badge engineered crap. Its often cited as the reason for the loss of Cadillac’s market share in the US. But they both did have one thing in common: slow sales. The ATS will probably be remembered as an outlier in GM product planning: something they did right from the get go but sadly because of past mistakes and neglect, no one cared enough to notice. Rest in paradise ATS.