Cadillac, like many other luxury brands, is going electric. The Lyriq SUV will debut in 2023, and almost all vehicles thereafter will have some form of battery under the hood. Naturally, that’s a punch for people who pour gasoline into their cereal every morning and munch on spark plugs for lunch and dinner. But at least Cadillac sends its V-series cars with a bang, relatively speaking.
The 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is the fastest and most powerful subcompact car the company has ever built. This isn’t the fire-breathing Blackwing CT5-V (more details next week), but the pint-sized sedan digs deep into Cadillac’s performance roots with a twin-turbo V6 , a blistering time of 60 and the ability to do laps like Virginia International Raceway – where we tested it – in record time.
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Subtlety on Shoutiness
But you might not know how technically capable this car is just by looking at it. There is no “Blackwing” badge anywhere on the CT4-V’s sheet metal, disappointingly – not a single nod to this car’s more powerful personality. Cadillac has tweaked the grille and touched up the bumpers, and the automaker is forcing you to shell out $ 4,350 for a carbon fiber package that adds a front splitter, side skirts, and rear spoiler. Beyond the polished visuals, at least the carbon fiber pack pulls 169 pounds of downforce at 180 mph – the most any Cadillac ever.
The standard wheels are a rather boring set of 18-inch two-tone rims, and even the optional satin shoes aren’t that exciting for $ 600 more. The snowflake pattern bronze rims are the best of the bunch, with a unique high spoke design and sublime finish, but they’ll set you back $ 1,500 more. The Blaze Orange metallic paint, shown here, also costs an additional $ 625.
Inside, the same basic elements of the base CT4-V are kept, with new carbon fiber dotting the dashboard and door panels, an optional $ 300 microfiber material on the steering wheel. and the shift knob, and a nice metallic 3D printed accent on the shift lever itself. On top of that, the Blackwing’s new microfiber bucket seats are super comfortable, with better back and butt support than the leather V-base chairs, and adjustable bolsters that hug your body like a snug glove. You can even get optional red seat belts.
Most of Blackwing’s magic is under the hood. Cadillac ditched the base model’s four-cylinder truck engine (thankfully) for a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 that produces 472 horsepower and 445 pound-feet. This number represents a huge improvement over the 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of the CT4-V.
Just like the rest of the CT4, technically this “new” engine is a transfer from the ATS-V. But with more horsepower, a 60-second faster time of 3.9 seconds with the automatic (4.1 seconds with the manual) and a top speed of 189 miles per hour, the CT4-V Blackwing hits the nail on the head. straight ahead of the VIR with ferocity.
Maximum torsion comes in at 3,500 rpm and horsepower reaches 5,750, which is actually a bit higher than what the lesser CT4-V offers (1,500 rpm / 5,600 rpm), and still down on the Audi RS3 (2,250 / 5,600 rpm) and Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 (2,250 / 4,750 rpm). And there is an obvious lag when you lay down on the accelerator. But once the turbos kick in and the 10-speed automatic gears kick in, this car hurries up.
Tapping the gearshift paddles activates the abruptly rapid changes of the 10-speed automatic. This gearbox shows confidence on the track, but feels anonymous as it traverses some of the sleepy towns of rural North Carolina later in the same day (both in the good and in the bad). meaning). But you’d be crazy not to go for the standard six-speed manual, especially since it costs over $ 3,000 less.
The six-speed chuckles fall into place satisfactorily with every throw. You might find yourself shifting maniacally, like we did, just to hear and feel the satisfying “thump” of the transmission locking into gear – fifth through fourth through third for no reason. . And that unnecessary shifting is easy thanks to the standard rev matching system, which does all the heel for you.
Tapping the gearshift paddles activates the abruptly rapid changes of the 10-speed automatic.
But even better than the rev-match is Cadillac’s awesome no-lift shifting technology, which is exactly what it sounds like. Keep your foot on the accelerator, squeeze the clutch and push the shift lever into the desired gear without any repercussions. It does take some rewiring of your brain so that you don’t go off the gas every shift, but once you get the hang of it it’s an extremely satisfying experience, especially when you go into fifth at 120 miles down. time.
Adding the standard Magnetic Ride Control along with the already good Alpha platform (from the Camaro) makes the CT4-V Blackwing a dynamic dynamo. This car glides over the VIR road course with smooth movements and excellent spin. The steering is also much heavier than the base CT4-V, but still more responsive, allowing us to throw the Blackwing around tough corners with relative ease. There’s a hint of understeer around the tougher VIR turns, like that annoying double rear top, but nothing offensively bad.
Playing with the Performance Traction Management (PTM) system gives the driver access to five different traction modes, including two dedicated track modes that completely disable traction control. Granted, we spent most of our time riding in mid-level Sport PTM mode, which resulted in a touch of slippage, but the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires (255/35 front and 275/35 at the rear) and electronic limited-slip differential kept the car in check.
Beyond that, the six-piston CT4 front brakes with 15.0-inch rotors and the four-piston rear brakes with 13.4-inch rotors easily bring the Blackwing up to speed. And besides those huge new brakes that stop the car, they don’t feel grippy; even on the track, the larger rotors are easy to modulate. Overall, the CT4-V Blackwing feels vastly improved over the base V-Series model on the track.
The misfortunes of the road
But as technically impressive as the Blackwing is on VIR – and the numbers back it up – some of the gripes we’ve had with the base CT4-V end up on the road. Management always drives us crazy in any setting off the track. It’s jumpy and vague, and it has an unusual spring quality that brings the wheel back to the center. Cadillac engineers tell us that the luggage rack is completely rebuilt on the Blackwing compared to the CT4-V, but it looks a lot like the same.
Too soft suspension joins that indistinct steering (again, in any drive mode other than Track), the automatic transmission can feel muddled at low speeds, and the exhaust note – as it bursts and shifts. flips against the track – sounds like a lawn mower when cruising around town. The CT4 Blackwing just doesn’t have the raw emotion we expect from a Cadillac V model, especially a model with so much horsepower and a manual transmission.
If you are looking for the most engagement, keep this car in its most aggressive mode at all times. Track tuning adds more weight to the steering, much needed suspension tension, and throttle response improvements that alleviate some of our issues with the slow 10 gears. Also go for the manual gearbox as it is the top transmission of the two.
The sleek six-speed gearbox is smooth, refined and easy to row thanks to the speed adjustment and no-lift shifting. The power application with the manual model is also more linear; There is no waiting time for the 10 speed to shift a gear or two when stepping on the throttle. And the steering even feels more analog – although that could be a mental thing as nothing changes mechanically in the steering from automatic to manual. Either way, the CT4-V Blackwing manual is definitely the more tactile and fun of the two.
The CT4 Blackwing simply lacks the raw emotion one expects from a Cadillac V model …
The fast lane
The Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing starts at $ 59,990 with the standard six-speed manual or $ 63,165 with the automatic. None of these prices include the $ 995 destination charge. Compared to the outgoing Audi RS3 ($ 56,200) or Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 ($ 55,350), the Caddy is technically the most expensive option of the bunch – and it gets even more expensive with the options. A fully loaded example will set you back $ 87,775 – an unholy sum for a compact car even with so much horsepower.
The CT4-V Blackwing is also the least fuel-efficient among its peers. Its combined 19 miles per gallon is down considerably from the 23 combined that the Audi and Mercedes return. To Cadillac’s credit, these two models have reduced horsepower and use a four-cylinder engine. But when super fuel is a prerequisite for all of these cars, whoever drinks it fastest might give you pause.
So while the CT4-V Blackwing is certainly far from perfect, what you get at this price is a small car that’s extremely capable on the track. The CT4-V Blackwing’s twin-turbocharged engine has tons of grunts, the Alpha platform with Magnetic Ride Control is sublime, and the six-speed manual with rev-match and no-lift shift makes the gearbox to make it obvious yourself. Whether or not you fall in love with the CT4-V Blackwing on the back roads, there’s no doubt this car will be the fastest subcompact on your next track day.