A real rival to the best German competitors

2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing review sunset photograph

Cadillac has a problem, but it’s not what you would expect. The problem with the 120-year-old brand is the buying public who has no idea what to make of the cars they are currently building. Younger buyers have very little association with Cadillac, other than perhaps the iconic Escalade, a staple of early 2000s rap music royalty. On the other hand, older buyers remember the 6-foot-long, gas-guzzling luxury barges and perhaps the idea of ​​Cadillac as the ‘standard of the world’. Both perspectives immediately collide at the sight of the stunning CT4-V Blackwing.

For most of the past two decades, this is what Cadillac has formed into: a supplier of some of the finest luxury sports sedans to ever grace a showroom floor, and this $76,035 CT4-V Blackwing is their latest creation.

Most important features:

  • Twin-turbo V6 engine
  • Magnetic suspension for driving control
  • Traction Management Performance
  • Built-in performance data recorder

  • Fashion model: CT4-V Blackwing
  • Engine/Engine: 3.6-litre V6 turbo
  • Horsepower: 472 hp
  • Couple: 445 lb-ft
  • Drive: Front engine, RWD
  • Transfer: 6-speed manual transmission; 10-speed automatic

  • Fantastic service
  • Attractive basic recommended price
  • Well equipped as standard
  • Available manual transmission

  • Interior is not as nice as some competition
  • Some buyers will still wish it had a V8

What is a CT4-V Blackwing?

A quick look under the hood reveals that Cadillac isn’t playing. The Blackwing gets a custom-built 3.6-liter V6 engine — called LF4 — that features a twin turbo and produces 472 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an available 10-speed automatic transmission. An electronically controlled differential lock is standard equipment. EPA fuel economy ratings of 15 MPG city, 23 MPG highway and 18 MPG combined are on par with the performance at stake, as are this Cadillac’s main rivals.

It sounds like the right recipe for a hearty cocktail made from enthusiast-grade hardware designed to bring down the almighty BMW M3, but that’s Cadillac’s next problem. The BMW M3 is ubiquitous, the standard nameplate that comes to mind for a sports sedan. There’s a lot of brand equity baked into that name, but what the hell is a CT4-V Blackwing?

Car enthusiasts will no doubt know that V is Cadillac’s performance sub-brand, with previous models like the raw V8-powered CTS-V holding that in high esteem. The Blackwing was a clean slate engine design—a DOHC twin-turbo V8—exclusive to Cadillac that only existed for two years in a vehicle many didn’t even know existed, the Cadillac CT6. That vehicle, with its special engine, got the ax in 2020, but the name Blackwing lived on.

Now the ‘V’ name is akin to BMW M-Sport or Audi’s lineup of ‘S’ vehicles, while Cadillac’s best performing vehicles get the full ‘V Blackwing’ treatment, making them battle-ready with the BMW M and Mercedes -AMG models of the world.

A bold move by Cadillac, but if a vehicle is going to build that brand value, it’s the CT4-V Blackwing, because the way it drives on a twisty road will make someone’s mouth fall in your lap.

This is a real driver’s car

The deeply reinforced leather and Alcantara-bound bucket seats — part of a $4,900 interior upgrade package — will hold the jaw in place as the owner struggles to remember, but they’d better move fast because the Blackwing moves faster.

The 0-60mph sprint takes just four seconds, and you can keep your foot flat on the ground during quick upshifts thanks to a no-lift shift feature, which quickly cuts contact when the clutch is pressed. With the throttle wide open, the no-lift shift feature keeps those twin-turbochargers on the spool, meaning there’s no turbo lag between shifts. Cadillac says drivers can shift up to a top speed of 289 mph on the track. Equally useful is an active rev-match function, which will knock the throttle to perfectly match engine speed for a smooth downshift. The more attuned drivers among the crowd will be pleased to know that the system can be easily turned off at the push of a button.

Related: Teaser Alert: 2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Track Editions Are Close

Anyway, CT4-V Blackwing pilots – and at the speed this thing can deliver, you’ll be a pilot for sure – will be rowing through the gears on a regular basis because of the sheer joy the Tremec manual gearbox is to use, with its nicely weighted, high-torque, dual-disc clutch and tight, engaging shifter.

The natural power of the twin-turbo engine, however, is that it produces so much thrust above 2,000rpm that drivers don’t have to wring it out to enjoy it. Go beyond that and you’ll find a surprisingly linear and tractable power delivery as the Blackwing loads hard into the 6,500 RPM rev limiter. This engine wants to go, and it hands out one of the sweeter soundtracks you can get from a V6 engine. The bimodal exhaust system can go from mild to wild at the push of a button, and those thick tailpipes unleash a surprising guttural sound, especially when the engine pulls away from a standstill. The sporting intentions of the Blackwing are clear from the start.

A chassis that can easily handle the current

Fortunately, the prodigious powertrain is matched by an equally good chassis. Like its predecessor, the ATS-V, the CT4-V Blackwing rolls on General Motors’ Alpha platform, the same foundation as the Chevrolet Camaro. One of the best things about GM in recent years, it seems like every Alpha platform vehicle is acting in a way that belies their size, while outperforming the competition.

Adaptive Magnetic Ride Control suspension is standard on the Blackwing. These fancy shock absorbers move tiny magnetic particles inside them, allowing the dampers to continuously adapt to road imperfections, at a sampling rate of up to 1,000 times per second.

Combine those dampers with the differential lock and a lot of tire footprint – the Blackwing rolls on Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer rubber, size 255 in the front and 275 in the rear – and the result is a huge amount of grip and predictability. The speeds the Blackwing likes to pull through corners belie its 3,860-pound curb weight and are, quite frankly, shocking.

Related: Don’t Miss: Mercedes CLA 35 AMG Takes on a Cadillac CT4-V

This tester even has $7,000 in carbon fiber upgrades that result in: the most downforce ever produced by a Cadillac vehicle, further improving maximum grip and cornering stability at high speeds. But with stock (and huge) Brembo brakes—six-piston calipers in the front and four in the rear—this Caddy can go as fast as it goes.

The most curious aspect of it all is how communicative the whole experience is. It’s all too easy to develop a car so focused on achieving performance stats that it becomes austere or unapproachable. Power is nothing without communication, and the Blackwing is full of feedback. It’s easy to see what the car is doing in a bend through the steering, tires and up to the driver’s seat.

This is a sports sedan that immediately inspires well-deserved confidence in the driver, and the more you drive it, the more it becomes clear that the team behind the Blackwing are people who care deeply about driving and who really understand what an engaging driver’s car should feel like.

What kind of luxury features does this luxury sports saloon have?

It’s clear that the CT4-V Blackwing makes a great driving companion, but how does Cadillac’s smaller luxury sports sedan compare to luxury?

Thanks to the aforementioned $4,900 interior upgrade package, there are huge swaths of leather-wrapped surfaces accented by Alcantara and more carbon fiber. There’s still some of that signature GM plasticity around the edges, but all the key touch points feel substantial.

Related: This 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing Is The Ultimate Family-Friendly Sedan

For just $600, customers can opt for an enhanced climate package and complement the standard heated seat function with ventilation and massage functions. Giving your Cadillac a back massage is the perfect way to relieve the stress of commuting through Los Angeles’ busy interstate network during rush hour. There’s also the standard 8-inch infotainment display, equipped with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless phone charging and premium 14-speaker AKG audio.

The final verdict

The CT4-V Blackwing is generously equipped out of the box with a base MSRP of $60,390. This tester threw nearly $16,000 worth of options into the mix, pushing the price up to $76,035 as tested. It may sound rich, but it’s an absolute bargain.

An Audi RS5 sports sedan, without options, has a base MSRP of $76,995. It’s a similar story with our story benchmark, the BMW M3, which starts at $73,795. Italy’s best alternative, the Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio, starts at over $80,000. The price tags on all three swell when they’re comparable to the Cadillac.

From its sharp, immersive driving style to the everyday comforts, conveniences and luxuries one would expect from Cadillac, while at the same time cutting costs from its European rivals, the CT4-V Blackwing is an easy recommendation for those looking for a new luxury sports sedan. †