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First Look: Cadillac’s First Unique New Engine in 35 Years

Hand-built, hand-signed.

by on Mar.21, 2018

Cadillac's first all-new engine in 35 years is this 4.2-liter, twin turbo V8 putting out 550 horsepower for the all-new CT6 V-Sport.

When it relocated its headquarters to New York a few years back, Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen promised the move would help the luxury brand gain some much-needed distance from the rest of the General Motors line-up. One welcome indication that we can take him at his word will make its debut in the Big Apple next week.

While much has been said about the upcoming Caddy XT4 crossover, the New York International Auto Show will also bring the debut of the CT6 V-Sport. More significantly, that high-performance sedan will bring with it the launch of the first unique-to-Cadillac engine since the marque introduced the Northstar V-8 for the old Allante roadster 35 years ago.

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“Designing an all-new engine was the best way to achieve the performance goals for the CT6 V-Sport,” said Jordan Lee, 4.2L TT V-8 chief engineer. “It builds on Cadillac’s well-established turbocharging know-how and forges new ground with innovative features that deliver exceptional performance and refinement.”

(Click Here for a closer look at the new CT6 V-Sport.)

The new engine isn’t a world-beater. Its 550 horsepower is 50 short of the 2018 BMW M5 and 53 under the latest Mercedes-AMG E63. But it’s nonetheless an impressive package, especially when you factor in its 627 pound-feet of torque. The CT6 is also one of the lightest vehicles in its class so, while we don’t have performance numbers yet, it should fare well in terms of 0-60 mph, 0-100 kph and other performance metrics.

Cadillac's new 550-hp V8 is mated to a new 10-speed transmission for the 2019 CT6 V-Sport.

The 4.2-liter package should also deliver reasonably good fuel economy thanks to such features as Active Fuel Management, which can cut off fuel flow while coasting or let the engine shift to four-cylinder mode when power demands are light. There’s also Stop-Start functionality, shutting the engine off, rather than idling while, say, sitting at a stoplight or on a drive-through line.

To be clear, the new engine isn’t just a modified-by-Cadillac take on any existing GM powertrain. It really is a ground-up effort that picks up on many of the latest trends and technologies, including cast aluminum “hot-V” cylinder heads, high-strength aluminum piston with friction-reducing polymer coatings, and dual independent valve timing on all four cams.

The turbochargers are low-inertia twin-scroll designs using titanium aluminide turbine wheels that can quickly spin up to a daunting 170,000 rpms. There are, meanwhile, large catalytic converters bolted onto each turbo to all but completely eliminate turbo lag. One of the biggest challenges Caddy engineers faced was keeping those turbos – along with the rest of the engine – cool under track-level driving. So, no surprise there’s a water-to-air intercooler and a heavy-duty water pump.

Other features include dual throttle bodies, a variable-pressure oiling system matched to engine load, and oil jets located in the block to enhance both performance and temperature control.

(Cadillac puts up Wahl as new marketing chief. Click Here for the story.)

Caddy actually plans to build two versions of the new twin-turbo V-8 – which will roll out of the same Performance Build Center facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that handles Corvette’s powertrains. (And in a nod to rival AMG, each engine will be built by hand and signed by the tech who built it.) The detuned version will make a slightly less powerful 500 hp and 553 pound-feet of torque.

Either way, the engine will be paired to a performance version of GM’s new 10-speed automatic. That fuel-saving gearbox has already shown up in a variety of models, including the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Expect to see it tuned to deliver aggressive launches while still maximizing mileage under more modest driver demands.

The CT6 V-Sport will use a performance-tuned version of the marque’s all-wheel-drive system, here more aggressively torque-biased to the rear axle. There’s a limited-slip rear differential, but unlike some competitors, Caddy has opted for a mechanical, rather than electronically controlled LSD.

Performance fans know that raw acceleration is only part of the thrill. So, Cadillac tells us the V-Sport will also feature an “Exhaust system with active valves offering reduced back pressure and more sound character.”

(To see more about Cadillac’s plans to focus more on SUV sales, Click Here.)

Intriguingly, the new engine has a mass of just 529 pounds and is apparently smaller than other GM performance V-8s, such as the LT4. Could we see it show up in other Caddy models? It would certainly be a force to reckoned with in the smaller ATS and CTS sedans. Perhaps we’ll learn more in New York next week.

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One Response to “First Look: Cadillac’s First Unique New Engine in 35 Years”

  1. John says:

    Maybe ten years ago. Everyone is announcing electric powertrains, but Johan thinks the future is cubic inches.