Cadillac reinvented itself as a performance brand almost 20 years ago, delivering the high-output V-series with manual transmissions and chassis packages that could go doorhandle to doorhandle on track with the Europeans.
It took a while to soak in, but with success at the highest levels of sports car racing Cadillac has gained a following among sport sedan enthusiasts.
Today Cadillac’s top performance trim is the Blackwing series, built on top of the already potent CT4 and CT5 V-series sedans. The CT4 is a compact executive sedan and the CT5 a midsize, offering buyers two distinct options in both size and powertrain. I recently spent a week with each of these cars, back-to-back, and found they appeal to different segments of the performance enthusiast market.
The 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing are far more than two different sizes of the same vehicle. The CT4 gets its power from a twin-turbo V-6, while the CT5 comes with GM’s top 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 for all-out power. Both cars come with the latest high-tech suspension goodies and brakes big enough to stop a locomotive, plus an available aerodynamics kit that actually works.
To sneak a peek at the bottom line, with each of the Blackwing models Cadillac is offering performance and luxury comparable to the top German brands, at a more attainable price.
Cadillac’s design language has softened a bit in recent years. Gone are the sharp crease lines of the ATS-V and CTS-V, replaced by a purposeful, yet dignified look.
The Blackwing models sit lower than the V-series, and then there’s those optional carbon fiber aero devices. The combination of a multi-plane rear spoiler, functional front splitter, and forward fender canards to deflect air around the wheel wells tell the tale of a pair of track-ready sport sedans.
Inside both Blackwing models, you’ll find an interior that combines current luxury standards of comfort with the touches that define a premium performance sedan. The CT4 seats are upholstered in Cadillac’s synthetic Inteluxe, with an option for leather and are deliciously comfortable. The CT5 seats come in semi-aniline leather as standard equipment.
Unlike some European performance models, the Cadillac seats are sized for somewhat larger American bodies, especially men in the age range that can afford the purchase price.
Touches like an Alcantara headliner, carbon fiber trim and the red band at the top of the steering wheel (for finding straight-ahead when shuffle-steering) give the Blackwings a racing-inspired feel. The rest of the Cadillac interior is charmingly straightforward, with a clean design, comparatively small infotainment screen, and plenty of room at each vehicle size point. If you want an elaborate interior, buy an Escalade-V.
The Blackwing powertrains are the most important differences between the CT4 and CT5. The CT4 Blackwing engine is a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6, rated at 472 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can choose between a 6-speed manual and a 10-speed automatic, sending power to the rear wheels. The CT5 Blackwing comes with GM’s 6.2-liter supercharged V-8, rated at 668 hp and 659 lb-ft torque, again passed through a 6-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels.
The manual transmissions in both Blackwings are crisp, with a decisive but not jumpy clutch. If you can drive any manual gearbox, you won’t have trouble with the Blackwings. However, let’s dispense with the outdated view the manual is the performance option. In either Blackwing, the automatic transmission is faster than the stick.
Equipped with the automatic, the CT5 Blackwing will hit 60 mph from a standing stop in just 3.4 seconds. The manual is a heartbeat slower at 3.6 seconds. Either gearbox will take the CT5 north of 200 mph, if you can find a place to do that. In the CT4, you’re looking at 3.9 seconds 0-60 with the automatic, or 4.1 seconds with the manual, and a top speed of 189 mph.
Safety and Technology
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have not rated the CT4 or CT5 Blackwing, each comes with a standard set of safety features representative of modern premium vehicles, in this case known as the Cadillac SMART system.
In addition to now-expected features like automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and lane security features including blind-spot monitor, the Blackwings both come with a vibrating safety alert seat. Optional features include adaptive cruise control and reverse automatic braking.
The only difference in safety tech features is that the CT5 includes a standard head-up display and Surround Vision Recorder, which uses the 360-degree cameras to record any activity around the vehicle when in security mode, and functions as a dash camera when the CT5 is operating. The head-up display is optional on the CT4, but the surround camera is not available.
When it comes to the infotainment system, Cadillac’s 8-inch touchscreen and 12-inch driver information dashboard screen all work well. The AKG audio systems are similarly good. The infotainment is not the reason to buy either of these cars, however. You can get bigger screens and more features elsewhere; these are performance vehicles.
2022 Cadillac CT4-V-Blackwing Specifications
|Dimension||L: 187.6 inches/W: 71.4 inches/H: 56 inches/Wheelbase: 109.3 inches|
|Powertrain||3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine, 6-speed manual/10-speed automatic transmission|
|Fuel Economy||16 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway/18 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||472 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $58,995; As tested: $75,435, including $995 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Driving either Blackwing is an exercise in self-control. Detroit has never had a problem making horsepower, but the Blackwing series also delivers razor-sharp steering response, strong grip on the road, flat cornering, and a predictable handling experience in both the CT4 and CT5.
The smaller CT4 in particular gives you the confidence you need to take your car to the racetrack and run it at full throttle, into hard braking, and following an apex-clipping line through the corners. Best of all, you’ll do all that in perfect comfort.
In the CT5, the combination of high torque and active magnetic ride control suspension is everything you wanted when you bought the car. The suspension is tight but won’t shake your kidneys loose. With the massive power on tap, only rigorous self-control will keep your insurance rates and driver’s license safe from harm.
If your jam is running open track days, get the optional carbon-ceramic brakes with cross-drilled rotors. With the CT5-V Blackwing, you’ll be able to humiliate drivers of European sports sedans with impunity. There’s even an optional performance data and video recorder to memorialize your racing achievements.
2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing Specifications
|Dimension||L: 194.9 inches/W: 74.1 inches/H: 56.5 inches/Wheelbase: 116 inches|
|Powertrain||6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine, 6-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission|
|Fuel Economy||13 mpg city/ 22 mpg highway/15 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||668 horsepower and 659 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $83,995; As tested: $106,290 including $995 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
You can’t wrap a discussion of a performance sedan designed to compete with the Europeans without comparing it directly to the European analogs from BMW’s M series, Audi’s Sport series and Mercedes-AMG.
BMW M tends to be the gold standard for hot rod performance, and an apples-to-apples look at the M3 versus the CT4 shows 473 horsepower to 472 for the Blackwing, and a 4.1-second 0-60 time, which is right in line. But the BMW’s starting price of $72,800 is well above the $58,995 of the CT4.
The Audi Sport RS3 is a closer match at $58,900 delivering 401 horsepower and a 3.6-second 0-60 time, and it has AWD. The Mercedes-AMG C43 coupe checks in at $60,500 but delivers only 385 horsepower from its twin-turbo V-6, and a 4.5-second 0-60 time.
To get performance comparable to the 668 ponies in the CT5-V Blackwing, you could compare it to the BMW M5 sedan at 600 horsepower. The BMW has a slightly faster 3.2-second 0-60 time, but again the price tag is higher at $107,900 compared to $83,995 for the Cadillac.
The Audi RS7 Sportback delivers 591 horsepower with a comparable 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds but costs an eye-popping $118,500. The Mercedes-AMG E53 is hardly in the game at all, with 429 horsepower from a turbo-hybridized inline 6-cylinder engine and 4.4-second 0-60 time, but at a price of $75,000.
Both Blackwing models are competitive on performance and generally better on price than the European alternatives. Which one to buy really depends on your budget and preferences, but we’d take the CT4 with an automatic transmission and a few well-chosen options like the aero and the head-up display and bring it in for about $69,140. Cadillac will soon be taking orders for 2023 models, but with a significant price bump compared to 2022.
2022 Cadillac CT4-V & CT5-V Blackwing — Frequently Asked Questions
How many of Blackwings will be built?
Cadillac says it will make fewer than 3,000 examples of the 2022 CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwings.
Will there be a 2023 Blackwing line?
Yes, both models have been confirmed for 2023.
Will there be any Blackwing special editions?
Yes, the 2023 CT4-V Blackwing Track Edition of 297 examples, and a Cadillac 120th anniversary 2023 CT5-V Blackwing of 120 examples have been announced.