GM's global product development boss Mary Barra described the ATS as a "crucial part" of Cadillac's growth as a prestige brand,
"ATS enters the biggest market segment in the global luxury car industry, both in terms of volume and importance," Barra said.
It's a segment dominated by German cars, including the BMW 3-series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4, so we've developed a compelling and convincing new challenger," she said.
The bulk of the car's technical details remain under wraps for now, although GM has confirmed that it utilises an all-new rear-wheel-drive platform "designed for agile, quick and fun driving dynamics and advanced technology".
News of the new Cadillac's coming follows an announcement in October that GM is developing a family of new engines, streamlining the carmaker's number of powerplants from 20 to 10 by 2018.
Along with the ATS, three more models from across the GM family will also get a first-time appearance in Detroit, although the carmaker is keeping mum on the details for now. We can likely expect the new Cadillac XTS to figure among the new models, however.