There’s been some buzz (from us as well as our friends at Road & Track and The Drive) about how Cadillac doesn’t really have any current plans for its Blackwing V8. It’s a waste for sure, but upon further rumination, the Blackwing isn’t exactly the best engine, particularly for Cadillac.
Let me preamble this by saying the Blackwing, which is found in the Cadillac CT6-V, is decidedly cool. It’s the first Cadillac-only V8 we’ve seen in decades and was designed with luxury in mind. It’s is a twin-turbo, 4.2-liter V8 that can put out a very respectable 550 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque. The turbochargers are mounted in the valley between the cylinder heads in order to reduce turbo lag and packaging size. (Apparently, packaging is what’s reportedly keeping the Blackwing out of the Cadillac CT5-V, but whatever!)
In recent statements, however, Cadillac has said the engine is likely to die (for now) with the short-lived CT6-V. A spokesperson told us, “The Blackwing is only available in the Cadillac CT6 Platinum and CT6-V. We have no additional plans regarding this engine to announce at this time.”
Cadillac boss Steve Carlisle confirmed as much to R&T: “[We have] no specific plans for that engine, but never is a long time.”
This really isn’t as tragic as you think it is. Yes, the Blackwing’s exclusivity to Cadillac is neat, since General Motors’ top luxury brand tends to borrow much of its stuff from other, lesser GM cars. At the end of the day, Cadillac still built itself a unique, twin-turbocharged V8 engine.
But you know who else has got that “unique” setup? BMW. Mercedes-AMG. Porsche/Audi/Volkswagen/Lamborghini/Bentley. Ferrari. McLaren. Koenigsegg. Maserati. The Blackwing is cool, but in this sea of so many other twin-turbo V8s, it’s not terribly special.
For performance and luxury automakers, a twin-turbo V8 is the go-to solution for blending power, noise, efficiency and emotion (gag). It’s an old trick by now. Here, Cadillac is your friend who comes running up to you one day, stoked, because he recently discovered a new search engine called Google.
It’s becoming clear that the Blackwing is more than a little bit flawed. It’s great for Cadillac to have its own engine, but just copying what BMW and Mercedes have been up to for years has long been a losing strategy for Cadillac. It’s the same story with Cadillac’s sedans, well done but not particularly desirable. Where Cadillac shines is when it calls back to its burbly, hulking past. The Escalade, as an example.
The Blackwing project was a great opportunity to make a new engine that’s as giant, bellowing and daunting as a Cadillac engine should be. Instead, we got a German copycat meant to be small but isn’t small enough to fit into the good V-series car.
So, it’s fine the Blackwing doesn’t have a foreseeable future. Especially when Cadillac’s (or GM, more specifically) already got a thunderous alternative, all ready to go, in the form of the LT4.
The LT4 is GM’s Gen-V, Small-Block motor. It’s a 6.2-liter, pushrod V8 that’s good for 650 HP and 650 lb-ft of torque, and found in the outgoing Cadillac CTS-V, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The LT4 is a bit of a bummer given that it’s a corporate engine seen on such lowly brands as Chevrolet, but it’s brutal, compact and, most importantly, different. It’s supercharged!
Hardly anyone is supercharging anything now, except for the American automakers and, like, Jaguar Land Rover. All of the coolest and most powerful American muscle cars today are supercharged. I can’t get too hung up on the ephemeral Blackwing when Cadillac already has something much more marvelous and uncommon to use, even if it isn’t Cadillac-exclusive.
If Cadillac really needs a place to put the Blackwing, stuff it in the 2021 Escalade. That thing has an engine bay that could hide a killer whale.