I'm Kind of Obsessed With the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing
The CT5-V Blackwing may have the lead in specs, but this Caddy channels sport sedan greatness in a different way.
Full disclosure: the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is a dream car of mine. I'm an unabashed lover of manual gearboxes, large-capacity V8s, crisp handling, ample legroom and a good deal, and Caddy's son-of-CTS-V delivers all of those in spades.
I also happened to have the luck — good, bad, ugly or otherwise — to test the CT5-V Blackwing before I drove its smaller sibling, the CT4-V Blackwing. (Granted, it was under less-than-ideal conditions, but still.) Unlike with my whiskeys, I usually like to start with the least-potent member of a car family and work my way up. Start from the bottom, and each rung is a new level of pleasure; start from the top and go down, and you run the risk of finding each new step a letdown.
So suffice it to say, I was genuinely a little shocked to discover just how much I wound up loving the smaller, less powerful CT4-V Blackwing.
As delightful as the 668-horsepower CT5-Blackwing is…well, let’s face it, 668 horses is a lot of power for any street car. Like many of today’s hottest rides, it suffers from what I like to think of as the “Superman’s true power” problem. I feel like I live in a world of cardboard, never able to cut loose — those may be the Man of Steel’s sort of words, but they apply pretty neatly to cars like the CT5-V Blackwing or Ferrari 812 GTS or Lamborghini Aventador SVJ.
The CT4-V's 464-pony engine, though, is powerful enough to be a hoot without being so mighty that you can’t take advantage of its potential. It's a session IPA to the CT5-V B'wing's double-hopped hammer; you can partake in more of it on a regular basis without getting yourself into trouble.
That’s especially true when the car packs the six-speed manual, where you’re forced to choose when to slide from gear to gear. GM’s 10-speed performance automatic is crackerjack, ripping from cog to cog under fire with stunning precision and efficiency — which is great, except when it winds up leading your velocity to get away from you when you’re not paying close enough attention to the speedometer. (Another reason why the decision to offer a manual in the CT5-V Blackwing is so great, IMO.)
While poking around the specs for this pocket Cadillac, I started noticing something unexpected. GM may have tried to sell it as a BMW M2 / Mercedes-AMG A45 rival for a minute, but it's sized more in line with the M3 and C63 — and model-size inflation means those cars are now more in line with the previous generations of their larger siblings.
To get to the point: the CT4-V Blackwing is almost the same size as the legendary E39-generation BMW M5.
Wheelbase, length, width – they’re all within spitting distance. Remarkably for a car that’s two decades newer, the Caddy is actually lighter, by around 125 pounds. And while the Cadillac may be down two cylinders to the M5, its twin turbos more than make up for it; the Blackwing overpowers the E39 M car by 78 hp and 71 lb-ft.
But it’s more than just dimensions and proportions. The CT4-V Blackwing has the same sort of involving driver-focused feel, the same sense of balance and responsiveness, as those Bimmers from the brand’s 20th Century glory days, back when the Ultimate Driving Machine was a tagline the brand worked to justify with every car.
The CT4-V Blackwing also improves on the M5’s tech, simply by virtue of being made two decades later. Like it or not — and I have thoughts going both ways on the issue — we live in a world where features like ventilated seats and satellite radio and phone connectivity are all to be expected in a car, and there’s no disputing that they do make life easier a lot of the time.
This Cadillac also improves on the tech of its predecessor, the ATS-V. In lieu of the attractive-but-annoying swipey-haptic-feedback-control-surfaces of the older Caddy, the CT4 uses an infotainment system that combines an easy touchscreen interface and actual buttons and knobs, including — bless you, GM — one for the stereo volume.
And best of all, by the standards of today’s car market, it’s practically a bargain. The CT4-V Blackwing starts just under $60K, and that’s with all the performance goodies baked in; you can opt for carbon fiber aero packages and fancy seats and such, but if you just want maximum go for minimum dough, you don’t have to add diddly squat.
And for those who might complain that the BMW M3 offers similar virtues and value…sure, but I'd counter with this: if you buy an M3, you have to look at every day.
Base Price / Price as Tested: $59,990 / $76,635
Powertrain: 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6; six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive
Torque: 445 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway
A German luxury wagon with supercar moves and a body to match? Shut up and take my money.