This is the end. Cadillac, a brand with a rich history of stuffing gigantic gasoline motors under the hoods of luxury sedans, is about to call it quits on internal combustion, but not before going out with a bang. Well, two bangs, with one of them called the CT5-V Blackwing, a 668-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8 sedan with a standard...standard transmission. The other is the CT4-V Blackwing, a smaller 472-HP twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 sedan that also comes with a stick shift, in keeping with the car gods’ orders. Let’s take a first look at these last hurrahs for high-performance gasoline Cadillacs.
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 CT5-V is a 668-HP, 659 lb-ft supercharged V8 sedan with a six-speed manual transmission sending torque to the rear wheels. On paper, it is epic, fulfilling the entirety of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Automotive Needs (other than perhaps “low curb weight” — the CT5-V Blackwing weighs roughly two tons). I can’t wait to drive this machine.
The other car Cadillac showed was the CT4-V, which also comes standard with a manual transmission, and also has a boosted engine that sends torque to the rear wheels, though that engine is a V6, and the high intake manifold air pressure comes from a pair of turbochargers instead of a supercharger.
Here’s a little walk-around of these two cars with marketing manager Ken Kornas:
When Cadillac released horsepower figures for the regular CT4-V and CT5-V, the automotive media pretty much spit out its drink and laughed. “We Regret To Inform You That The Cadillac CT4-V Has Just 24 More HP Than A Toyota Camry,” my colleague wrote after Jalopnik’s initial article titled “The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V and CT5-V Arrive Without The Big Power We’re Used To.”
After having been spoiled by the 464 HP ATS-V and 640 HP CTS-V, we just weren’t excited about the paltry 325 HP turbocharged inline-four in the CT4-V or the 360-HP twin-turbo V6 in the CT5-V. “Hey, this isn’t the real V, is it?” my Editor-in-Chief Rory Carroll asked Cadillac at an event in 2019. The brand responded that a “big V” was under development. Now it’s here along with its little sibling.
The 668-HP CT5-V Blackwing can allegedly pull off a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds, and reach a top speed of over 200 mph. The 472-HP, 445 lb-ft CT4-V Blackwing takes a tenth more to get to 60, and its top speed plateaus at around 189 mph, per Cadillac. Both cars are built on the Alpha II platform, the successor to the Alpha platform that underpinned the Chevy Camaro and Cadillac ATS. Like the ATS and Camaro, the CT4 and CT5 have MacPherson strut front suspensions and five-link setups in the back.
Speaking of the ATS, the CT4-V Blackwing is likely going to be quite similar to that car’s V-model, which was an excellent driver’s car thanks to incredible steering feel and sharp handling. The CT4 has essentially the same engine and transmission, with roughly the same power (it’s up 8 HP). Car And Driver gets into the differences, writing in its story 472-HP 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Is like an ATS-V, but Better:
Chassis upgrades include larger front and rear brake rotors, a newer version of the standard magnetorheological dampers, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires instead of the old Pilot Super Sport rubber. These tires wrap around 18-inch wheels with a staggered-width setup; the magnesium wheels that Cadillac teased earlier won’t be available until later in the production run. The housing for the electronic limited-slip differential is now aluminum, which Cadillac says saves 22 pounds. Overall curb weight is up by a claimed 77 pounds.
I’m conflicted here, because as much as I love the idea of an improved ATS-V that handles well, the bigger, couple-of-hundred-pounds-heavier CT5-V Blackwing has the V8 with a 1.7-liter Eaton supercharger on it, and you know that’s going to sound much, much better. So the question is: Do you choose nimble(ish) handling or do you choose the glorious sound of a boosted V8?
Perhaps I’m a bit basic, but my initial primal instinct is to go with option B.
Cadillac didn’t have engineers at my preview session in a warehouse in Warren, Michigan, so the brand wasn’t able to get deep into the CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing’s tech. But right away, it was obvious how epic the cooling systems are — unsurprising, given the ATS-V was a masterpiece in this area.
The cars each have roughly a dozen heat exchangers, with tiny outboards ones tilted, and angled a bit inboard:
My favorite heat exchanger (everyone should have a favorite heat exchanger, right?) on the CT4-V is the flat one up front, which I’m fairly sure cools the transmission and rear differential.
A heat exchanger whose face is actually parallel to airflow?! It seems counterintuitive, but it makes sense if you consider that it’s located just ahead of the main cooling module, which — due to its restriction — creates an area of high pressure ahead of itself. That high pressure, along with the low pressure under the vehicle as air rushes at a high velocity, forces air through the heat exchanger mounted parallel to the car’s floor:
While we’re on the topic of aerodynamics, Cadillac says the new grille design is a key enabler for improving airflow over the ATS-V, and the brand mentions a new Carbon Fiber Aero Package, which allegedly reduces lift by 214 percent on the CT4-V Blackwing and 75 percent on the CT5-V Blackwing. It goes without saying that there’s a drag penalty.
Also exciting are the underbody “airflow-channeling strakes” that make up what Cadillac calls the “Underwing” — basically, an underbody airflow strategy that Cadillac says reduces drag and improves track performance:
Speaking of the underbody, here’s an “Easter Egg” V-Series logo at the bottom of the liquid-cooled electronic limited-slip differential:
The brakes are huge. The CT4-V Blackwing’s rotors are 15 inches up front and 13.4 out back, while the bigger sibling has 15.7-inch rotors ahead of the driver and 14.7s behind. Both cars have six-piston calipers at the nose and four-piston grabbers at the tail.
The standard manual transmission is a six-speed Tremec, with a dual-disk LuK clutch. In case you’re not familiar with how a twin-disc clutch works, it essentially involves bolting a housing to the flywheel, using axial space to create an additional surface for an additional clutch to grab onto. Here, watch this Aussie show you how it works:
Both cars get rev matching capability and “No-Lift Shift,” which is what it sounds like: You can stay hard on the accelerator pedal while shifting — something that, per Cadillac, helps keep the CT4-V Blacking’s turbos in boost.
There’s also a 10-speed automatic available if you’re into that sort of thing.
The CT4-V Blackwing starts at $59,990, while the CT5-V Blackwing costs $84,990. These are higher base prices than those of the Audi RS3 and BMW M3 with which GM says the two cars compete, respectively. How the Caddies will hold up on the track against their German counterparts is something I can’t wait to find out. Will Cadillac’s final internal combustion engine V-Series cars go out on top?