2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Review: Greatness Adjacent
2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Fast Facts
The deck was stacked against the CT4-V Blackwing long before it rolled into my driveway. My seat time in Cadillac’s latest compact sports sedan came after not only a stint in the unfortunately-styled-but-otherwise-very-good G80 BMW M3 but also the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, the latter of which is arguably the greatest sports sedan that’s ever been produced. Yes, the CT5 occupies a different space (and price point) in the market, but these two cars are so similarly styled, it’s easy to mistake one for the other at a glance.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that they’re both built on a modified version of GM’s Alpha architecture, a platform that also underpins the sixth-generation Camaro. That certainly bodes well for the CT4-V Blackwing from a dynamics standpoint, but in the end, that commonality is a sword that cuts both ways.
Don’t get me wrong – the smaller Blackwing does a lot of things right, and it also does several important things better than the M3 does while undercutting it by more than 10 grand. The CT4-V Blackwing is a legitimately great car to drive. The problem is that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
Since the Blackwing moniker now represents Cadillac’s top-tier performance offerings ( but not the engine that they’re motivated by), the CT4-V Blackwing boasts an array of go-fast hardware. Aero bits like the front splitter, fender vents, rock extensions, and rear spoiler are on hand to channel the air properly, while black accents and unique mesh grilles add to the visual drama. Look past the updated bodywork, though, and it’s clear that the CT4-V Blackwing essentially picks up where the ATS-V left off.
Under the hood is an all-aluminum 3.6-liter direct-injected, twin-turbocharged, 24-valve dual-overhead-cam V6. The power plant largely carries over from the ATS-V, but revisions to the air intake and engine calibration have allowed Cadillac engineers to wring another eight ponies out of it for a total of 472 horsepower. Peak torque remains unchanged at 445 lb-ft.
The standard-issue gearbox is a six-speed manual with trick features like no-lift upshifts and auto rev-matching, but those who’d prefer not to row their own can spring for the optional 10-speed automatic. Either way, the power is sent rearward and channeled through an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. The combination is said to be good for a 0-60 mph sprint in 3.8 seconds with the automatic or four seconds flat with the six-speed, and the CT4-V Blackwing will keep pulling all the way to 189 mph.
When the time comes to rein in the speed the CT4-V Blackwing is outfitted with six-piston Brembo calipers and 14.96-inch rotors at the front, while four-piston units and 13.4-inch discs are equipped at the rear. Eighteen-inch forged wheels come wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires that were developed specifically for this car.
There’s also the requisite stiffer spring rates and bushings, beefed-up sway bars, and additional bracing to improve structural rigidity, but the big news on the chassis front is the adaptive dampers. Like the CT5-V Blackwing, fourth-generation Magnetic Ride Control shocks are part of the deal with the CT4-V Blacking, and Cadillac says they’re not only capable of adjusting to changing road conditions four times faster than the previous generation, they also pull in more accurate information, which in turn benefits both ride quality and high-performance stability.
The cabin doesn’t stray far from the CT4-V’s playbook, but the 18-way adjustable sport seats up front and a unique leather-wrapped steering wheel with a V-Mode button and a Performance Traction Management switch cover the most important bases, while a customizable 12-inch digital gauge cluster with Blackwing-specific graphics adds to the sport-luxury vibe. An 8-inch center touchscreen display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android auto handles infotainment duties, and a 14-speaker AKG audio system kicks out the jams.
Tooling around town on LA’s far-less-than-perfect tarmac, the CT4-V Blackwing delivers ride quality that’s flat-out superior to the BMW M3 – or anything else in this segment, for that matter. It manages to keep body motions in check while remaining surprisingly compliant in Tour driving mode, and paired up with a shifter that’s far more satisfying to use than the BMW’s rubbery six-speed, the CT4-V Blackwing is engaging to drive even under totally mundane circumstances.
But as has become modern Cadillac tradition, the interior just isn’t on par with the best that Europe has to offer. The sport seats are a highlight – comfortable when you need them to be yet bolstered aggressively enough for more spirited work – but other elements like the cheap-feeling switchgear and infotainment system serve as constant reminders of GM’s cost-cutting efforts. The latter wins some points back for fast input response and just, you know, not being the abysmal Cue system used in the ATS-V, but it’s just a bit low-rent when compared to the systems used in the CT4-V Blackwing’s closest rivals.
The Caddy wins some points back out in the canyons thanks to its excellent chassis and well-tuned steering. Combined with the MRC magic in the Sport and Track drive modes and a brake system with linear response and tons of stopping power on tap, the CT4-V Blackwing is easy to get acclimated to and generally tough to unsettle regardless of what PTM setting you’re using.
But the canyons also highlight a missed opportunity. While the V6 has an excellent response for a turbocharged mill and plenty of mid-range shove, it feels like it’s at a significant deficit to the base M3’s likely-underrated 473 hp inline-six. Perhaps more importantly, with its relatively low 6,500 RPM redline and generally uninspiring soundtrack regardless of how the active exhaust attenuates it, this engine just doesn’t feel particularly special. Considering the fact that this platform was designed to accept a V8 from the get-go, it’s hard not to wonder what a game-changer the LT1 (or LT2, for that matter) could have been in this application.
Wishful thinking, I know. In fact, Cadillac says that this car and the CT5-V Blackwing will be the last Blackwing models powered by any sort of internal combustion, so things aren’t exactly trending in the direction of big, naturally aspirated V8s.
Fortunately, the CT4-V Blackwing has other charms to offer, and on the whole, it’s a much stronger effort than its predecessor.
What’s New For 2022
The CT4-V Blackwing is ostensibly the successor to the ATS-V. Along with its twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engine, the Blackwing scores a six-speed manual gearbox with auto rev-matching and no-lift upshifting as standard, but a 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters is optional. The Blackwing includes an array of performance-focused chassis hardware that goes above and beyond what you’ll find in the standard CT4-V, along with exterior aerodynamic and aesthetic upgrades. Bespoke sport seats and a unique leather-wrapped steering wheel with a V-Mode button and a Performance Traction Management switch are also part of the package.
Who Should Buy The 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing
Enthusiasts that are seeking an M3-like driving experience for less money and without the snout, but don’t mind sacrificing a noticeable amount of luxury and some straight-line performance to get it.
[Images © 2022 Bradley Iger/TTAC]
RedRocket on Mar 07, 2022
What a ridiculous review, even for this site. Of course it has the requisite "cheap-feeling interior" comment that is a requirement for any GM/Cadillac review by auto journos. The reality is that it is not cheap-feeling, nor does it does have a rubber steering wheel like entry-level BMWs. The switchgear is fine. The infotainment system works as well as any of them. And it is by no means slow. But the biggest flaw is that while dissing the CT4 and praising the BMW the author does not mention price. To even raise the comparison without hard performance numbers to point to is either lazy or idiotic.
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