Cadillac Doesn't Need The Blackwing

Illustration for article titled Cadillac Doesn't Need The Blackwing
Photo: David Tracy

Cadillac showed its new stick shift CT4- and CT5-V Blackwings, with a twin-turbo V6 and supercharged V8. I guess they’re meant to be Cadillac’s swan song for internal combustion today. I couldn’t be happier.

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My coworker David Tracy got to get up close to the Blackwings, and has lots of fun engineering details on these sports sedans, including a nice look at their twin-plate clutch and an easter egg hiding on the limited-slip diff.

It’s a treat to see what feels like almost old-school performance car tech coming out brand new, as David wrote:

The auto industry is quickly entering the electric era, so it feels a bit strange for Cadillac to be debuting two entirely-conventional flagship sedans. But this is the last stand for performance gasoline Cadillacs, and my god is GM’s premium brand going out swinging.

The thing is, I’m glad that this looks to be the end for gasoline performance for Cadillac. It’s last thing the company needs.

Cadillac has been running this game for decades. Make an outstanding chassis, have it look sharp and drive sharper, with modern design on a retro layout. Ever since the first CTS-V in, god, 2004, we’ve had this rear-drive/V8 format. Has Cadillac “taken on the Germans” in any meaningful way? Of course not. Cadillac makes its bones selling SUVs and crossovers. Nobody’s buying an XT5 or XT6 because they think it handles better than a BMW, and I don’t think they’re buying it because of the V cars sitting on the other side of the showroom floor.

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If you’re curious about Cadillac’s model-by-model breakdown, they’re compiled here by Cadillac Society. Cadillac sold more than twice as many XT5s (its best seller) as CT5s, seven times as many XT6s as CT6s.

Clearly, sedans aren’t doing it for the brand, and the high-performance variants aren’t helping one bit. What Cadillac needs is effective, efficient, luxurious transportation. Something stylish, something techy, something quiet.

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You could make the case for that meaning electric cars. Cadillac would do better being the company that gives us the first full-size all-electric SUV with meaningful range; something desirable. Something GM could show off. Something that isn’t even available at the BMW dealership on the other side of town. I’m not sure that image is achievable if Cadillac is still selling supercharged V8s.

Take, for example, the one car in the Cadillac lineup that still feels like a Cadillac. The only one that reads as a Cadillac on the road: big, opulent, imposing. It’s the Escalade, and if it was electric, nobody would notice or care.

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And even if you think Cadillac’s push into all-electric-everything is a mistake, you can’t really argue that V cars are helping the brand one way or another. The money that Cadillac dumped into a twin-turbo V8 destined to be immediately orphaned could have gone to promoting something people actually want. Something like SuperCruise! Something like interiors that don’t make you clunk up on cheap plastics! Something that feels good.

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The Blackwings are fan service at best, a distraction at worst. It’s time to leave these cars behind.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

DISCUSSION

shanemorris
Shane Morris

Counterpoint: Cadillac is tied to GM, and they recently announced their all-electric 2035 plans. Electric cars are mostly going to be “skateboard” chassis vehicles, so it doesn’t matter how much R&D they throw into their products. The bread and butter item on the Caddy menu will be a churched up Tahoe until further notice. The Escalade is a margin machine. No more, no less. Hell, Escalade brings as much value to Cadillac as Mustang does to Ford. I’d be shocked if we didn’t see mini-’Slades in the next 10 years running electric motors.

I’m still buying gas, and platform sharing is the future of Cadillac. The brand itself has become nicer leather, a few options, and the logo on the front the size of a baby’s head.

Let me live, Torch. I'm 34, I always wanted these cars, and this is my last chance to live the dream of destroying the planet. I'll feel a little guilty, but like... 668 horsepower has the ability to make you forget guilt.