What is it?
Cadillac’s smallest sedan, in its sportiest form. (At least, for now. More on that later.)
Is it new?
Yes — sort of. Beneath the skin lies a revamped version of the ATS, Cadillac’s small, sporty four-door that dates back to 2012.
The name, though, is all-new — part of Cadillac’s latest rebranding campaign, in which sedans all get names that start with CT and SUVs get names that start with XT. Except the Escalade, because it’s the only Cadillac left with a name that means something to the broader public. And their future electric cars, because Caddy is already giving up on that CT/XT nomenclature.
The -V appended to the back of CT4 signifies that this is the performance-oriented version, though that letter doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Previously, the -V suffix was reserved for the hottest of Caddys, with medium-spicy performance versions using the Vsport trim name; as of 2018, however, Cadillac starting rebranding Vsports as -V models, presumably to try and squeeze as much out of one of their few well-known names as possible. Super-high-performance CT4-V and CT5-V models will arrive soon, with the term Blackwing appended to their names.
Well, that’s confusing.
Yes. Yes it is.
What makes it special?
General Motors applied way more of their fun-car engineering expertise to the CT4-V than they needed to. Beneath the hood lies a turbocharged four-cylinder, like in most small cars these days, but it’s a monster: 2.7 liters in displacement. (It’s based on the same engine you can buy in a Chevy Silverado.) It spits out 325 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, with a 10-speed automatic (related to the one found in the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro) to handle the power.
You can choose from rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, but enthusiasts will want the former; that’s the only way to get the Magnetic Ride Control suspension that near-magically blends a smooth ride with great handling. A limited-slip differential helps the rear wheels make the most of the power, while Brembo brakes up front slough off the speed.
How does it drive?
It’s pretty damn fun. Click the drive mode selector into Sport or Track, and the languid responses of the gearbox sharpen up, helping the engine make the most of its power. All that torque means passing is surprisingly easy, even at New Jersey’s lofty highway speeds; the 380 lb-ft show up to party at just 1,800 rpm. The steering is sharp and direct, with none of the slop you’d expect of the company that made your granddad’s Deville; between it and the well-tuned suspension, carving corners is a hoot. It has the sort of fun-to-drive character that’s only achievable by a company that sights its set on that goal — and is willing to put in the hard work to get there.
What’s it like inside?
Tight. The CT4's wheelbase is no bigger than the old ATS, but it’s telling that Cadillac retargeted the car from the C-Class / 3 Series market to the A-Class / 2 Series when it changed names. With six-footers up front, the rear seat becomes a parcel shelf; you’d need two-dimensional legs to sit back there.
If you’re only planning on using the back seat for groceries, pets and other non-human cargo, there’s room enough inside —but while the front seats aren’t claustrophobic, they’re hardly Barca-Loungers. Cadillac’s latest infotainment system, blessedly, now offers control knobs, but the only one you’ll need is for volume; the touchscreen sits just inches from the driver’s hand, whereas the redundant clickwheel is down by their elbow.
What’s it cost?
A basic CT4-V starts at $45,490; fully loaded, it’ll run you $53,165.