Spy photos and rumors have consistently suggested the upcoming 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing sport sedans were being tested with a manual transmission. Today, Cadillac confirmed both models will be sold with a six-speed manual transmission as the standard — and there’s a poll to back up that bold decision.
The overarching narrative through the last couple of decades has been the general decline of the manual transmission among both enthusiast crowds and commuter populations alike, with sticks slowing dying out of manufacturer lineups. It seems every other week there’s a news story about a would-be carjacker who’s thwarted by their inability to operate a manual transmission in the car they’re trying to steal. How humiliating.
Despite the broad assumption of the manual’s steady decline, a new poll conducted by Harris Insights, a legacy polling firm commissioned by Cadillac to study U.S. driver interest in manual transmissions, suggests a majority of the driving population would actually be interested in a stick shift car, or already had some knowledge and experience with them.
Here are the highlighted conclusions from the poll, via Cadillac:
- Sixty-six percent of American adults surveyed know how to drive a manual.
- Of those who do not know how to drive a manual, roughly 40 percent are either somewhat or very interested in learning.
- More than half (55 percent) of American adults say they have owned or leased a car with a manual transmission.
- Interest in driving or learning to drive a manual is higher among those with $75,000 or more in annual household income (64 percent interested) and those between 18-34 in age (62 percent interested).
It’s that last bullet point that likely affirmed Cadillacs plans to give the high-performance “true V” Blackwing models of the CT4 and CT5 sedans the standard stick. Apparently the people with money are interested in driving a manual car, as well as the younger age group.
Keep in mind Cadillac has also continued to make a small business out of its V-Performance Academy driving schools, so the company already has the customer support infrastructure to persuade interested shoppers to learn how to get comfortable with a stick shift.
A Cadillac spokesperson followed up to a Jalopnik inquiry with information on how the polling research was collected:
This survey was conducted online within the United States between October 27 – 29, 2020 among 2,025 adults and October 19 – 21, 2020 among 2,070 adults (aged 18 and over) by The Harris Poll on behalf of General Motors via its Harris On Demand omnibus.
Harris also further clarified how the survey was weighted to attempt to reflect the full population:
Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, household income, education, marital status and size of household where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.
Cadillac also sent me a full presentation on the polling survey, so I’ll highlight some of the other interesting details:
- “One-third (31 percent) of those who have never owned or leased a manual know how to drive one.”
- “Strong interest (very interested) in learning to drive a manual is low among those who have never owned/leased a manual (10 percent) and/or don’t know how to drive one (7 percent).”
- Out of the 55+ age category, 72 percent claimed to know how to drive a stick. However, out of that same age category, only 16 percent were actually still interested in driving one, according to the data.
I’ve made the full poll breakdown provided by Cadillac available by clicking here, with more interesting insights and the “full methodology” of the survey on the final slide. The point is that Cadillac is selling two new manual sedans and claims to have evidence that people will buy them. That’s great.
The Cadillac announcement also claims parts using new techniques helped cut some costs and reduce waste in development and production of the new cars. Additive manufacturing was used to 3-D print two HVAC ducts, an electrical harness bracket and the coin-like six-speed medallion that sits in the shift knob. The company also claims the manual transmission will be both quieter and more durable than the previous version offered.
Cadillac has been teasing the new CT5-V and CT4-V Blackwing models over the last few months, so far confirming a red-striped performance steering wheel, racing-inspired book-matched carbon fiber seatbacks (only on the CT5), and the only magnesium wheels available from any General Motors brand in the near future, which are inspired by the championship-winning Cadillac DPi-V.R race car.
Engines in the new 2022 CT5-V Blackwing and CT4-V Blackwing have yet to be confirmed, though it definitely is not the V8 engine that GM named the Blackwing, confusingly. Videos of prototype models at a car meet suggested we’re getting a familiar V8. More information will be announced next week, maybe including price, and the new models will go on sale this summer.