The Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Is One of the All-Time Great Sport Sedans
It's hard not to be spellbound by the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing—it is, perhaps, the definitive V-8, manual-transmission super-sedan. The only thing wrong is that it cast a shadow on its little brother, the CT4-V Blackwing.
Cadillac brought out the 668-hp monster CT5 at the same time as the CT4, and it dominated the conversation. Time spent with the CT4-V Blackwing alone, though, reveals how special this car is. The CT4 deserves to be lavished with attention. After a weekend with this orange, manual-transmission CT4-V Blackwing, I couldn’t think of a more perfect car to road-trip from my NYC home to Watkins Glen, intimidate Porsche GT4 drivers on track, and then drive home in total comfort. It might just be the most Road & Track car on sale today.
A quick recap: The CT4-V Blackwing is an evolution of the ATS-V it replaces. It rides on GM's rear-drive Alpha 2 platform (like the CT5), and sports a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6 making 472 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque. Crucially, the CT4 Blackwing has all of GM's best performance-car hardware, including an electronic limited-slip differential and most importantly, MageRide 4.0 dampers. I've covered these dampers in-depth previously; they're among the very best in the industry. All of the chassis systems integrate with GM's sophisticated Performance Traction Management system, which makes the car faster in the hands of drivers of all experience levels when it’s switched on.
After first driving the CT4-V Blackwing at Virginia International Raceway in 2021, I couldn't wait to try it out on more familiar roads. Lapping one of America's greatest road courses in this car was a dream, but a good sport-sedan has to work in the real world. The Blackwing is just as mind-blowing in and outside of New York City as it is being thrown over the curbing at VIR.
Thank those MagneRide dampers and the brilliant engineers who calibrated them. The CT4-V Blackwing rides as well as the finest big luxury sedans on sale today, while still offering benchmark handling. It calls to mind cars like the Lotus Evora more than any other sport sedan on sale today, breathing with the road and ironing out any imperfections beneath. What's clever is that shocks that allow so much adjustment could feel abnormal, yet to Cadillac's credit, the way the body moves feels natural. There's just enough roll and pitch to give the driver a good sense of connection, but it's never in excess.
If I have one problem with both the CT4 and CT5 Blackwing, it's that there are too many drive-mode configurations. The normal Tour mode is fine for everyday driving, but for spirited driving, it took me a while to come up with the ideal configuration. You can program two custom modes, My Mode and V-Mode, the latter of which is accessible by a dedicated button on the steering wheel. My perfect setup is to leave everything in Sport, with the suspension and steering in Tour mode. Essentially, you get aggressive powertrain settings with softer chassis settings and it's just about perfect. If you have a Blackwing, I recommend you try this, especially because the steering is artificially heavy in all but Tour mode.
Once that’s set, the Blackwing becomes one of today’s sweetest cars for spirited road driving. In and around the New York Metro area, we're cursed with poor road surfaces, but within a 100-mile radius, there are some fun fast back roads. The Blackwing monsters them.
You don't need more power than this. The CT4-V Blackwing is more than quick enough, yet not absurdly so like the 668-hp CT5-V Blackwing. It doesn't feel quite as quick as a manual-transmission BMW M3, and per figures from our colleagues at Car and Driver, the stopwatch backs that up, but you'll never feel shortchanged in the speed department. Plus, what few tenths the CT4 gives up to the M3 are more than made up for with engagement. The new M3 feels remote, whereas the CT4 feels alive. The Cadillac's ride quality is also better and its six-speed manual is far superior.
The engine here is a bit of a strange one. It's very effective, there's not much turbo lag, and it actually sounds quite good at low RPM, though it certainly isn't as special as the chassis. I'm not the first person to say this, and I won't be the last, but if the CT4-V Blackwing had a naturally-aspirated small-block V-8, the auto enthusiast world would've already declared it the greatest sports sedan of all time. Worth noting, too, that per a quick Cars.com search, there are 664 CT4-V Blackwings on dealer lots at the time of writing, versus 173 CT5-V Blackwings.
Certainly the CT5-V Blackwing is more than just its V-8, but it's that engine that really put the car over the top and won enthusiast hearts. At the end of the day, however, I think the CT4-V Blackwing is better. It's a little lighter and smaller, which pays dividends on the road. And as much as I adore the torque-monster small-block in the CT5, it has too much power to be usable in the real world. The CT4 is a more balanced package, albeit one with a less-characterful engine.
Plus, the CT4 costs more than $30,000 less than the CT5. Of course it's not quite as practical and the back seat of the '4 is tight, but that's a big price difference. The base price for a 2023 is $61,890 and this well-equipped orange tester came in at $71,535. That's a lower base price than the new BMW M2, and far less than the $75,295 of an M3. Unfortunately, bottlenecks with carbon-fiber production seemingly led Cadillac to significantly raise the price of the optional carbon-fiber packs for both Blackwings, which is a shame as these improve looks and aerodynamic performance. But you can live without the carbon accouterments.
Few cars are as accomplished as the CT4-V Blackwing. For the enthusiast, there's basically nothing it can't do. Unless you need to carry tall folks in the back regularly, it's the perfect one-car solution, as good at running errands as it is road trips and track days. Drive one and you'll want one. I do.
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