What is it?
The CT5-V is the hotter version of Cadillac’s CT5 sedan, which straddles the compact and midsize segments. It is smaller, cheaper and dramatically less powerful than the outgoing CTS-V— down to 360 hp, versus 640 hp — and comes in a trendy four-door-coupe body style. It will become the mid-tier CT5 when the V8-powered CT5-V Blackwing enters the lineup next year.
Is it new?
Yes. The CT5 was a fresh arrival for the 2020 model year; it builds on GM’s excellent rear-wheel-drive Alpha platform that underpinned the ATS-V and CTS-V, but the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 is new, as is the GM/Ford developed 10-speed automatic transmission also found in the Camaro and F-150.
Why is it special?
Cadillac primed journalists and enthusiasts to be pissed off with this car. They canceled the well-regarded CTS-V and bestowed the “V” nameplate on a more pedestrian car with barely more than half the power. (Imagine if BMW built a new M340i and called it the new M5. Utter sacrilege.)
Then people drove it, and realized Cadillac was still letting its engineers run wild. The CT5-V keeps the classic track-ready “V” character, but offers it in a more accessible and more affordable car that looks less like your grandfather’s Boca cruiser. Sure, it's a rung down from where "V" was — but it's a smarter space for Cadillac to be competing.
How does it drive?
The CT5-V is a classic premium GM car, precisely tuned and stuffed with awesome-sounding advanced technology. The CT5-V features Performance Traction Management, GM’s stellar Magnetic Ride Control suspension, a customizable V-Mode, an electronic limited-slip differential and a Brembo brake-by-wire system. You can (and should) opt for rear-wheel drive, which brings with some summer performance Michelin Pilot Sport 4S treads. The 10-speed is intuitive and smooth on the upshift, though unwieldy for shifting manually.
What's the CT5-V like in real-world driving? Potent, agile and comfortable. It's nowhere near CTS-V-level maniacal, but most buyers don't want that. You need to push the CT5-V to appreciate it.
Track mode is where the car really livens up, and all that technical jazz comes together. But your lifestyle and local roads in many regions may make that a rare treat. Tour mode feels a bit better for driving with the fam, although the artificial engine noise in that mode sounds anything but tepid.
Cadillac’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving technology was not available at launch. That said, the CT5-V should get it sometime during the 2021 calendar year.
What’s the inside like?
The CT5-V does not have, shall we say, the Cadillac of interiors. It’s not incredibly plush or opulent. However, it is smart, functional and on par with what would find in a sporty BMW or Audi.
It has a surprising amount of horizontal space, providing ample front and rear legroom and — crucially for the average Cadillac buyer — golf clubs. It’s not as generous vertically, though, which can make entry, egress and extricating children a bit tricky.
What’s it cost?
The starting MSRP for the CT5-V is $47,695. That’s about $14,000 cheaper than the old CTS-Vsport. It undercuts compact competitors like the BMW M340i ($54,700), Mercedes-AMG C43 ($55,900) and the Audi S4 ($49,900).
My tester included the Platinum package, V Premium package, Climate package and Driver Awareness package for a total price of $63,045.
2020 Cadillac CT5-V
Powertrain: Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6; 10-speed automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
Torque: 405 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway