2023 Cadillac CT4 V-Series Blackwing Review – Here to Play
2023 Cadillac CT4 V-Series Blackwing Fast Facts
At first, I didn’t like the 2023 Cadillac CT4 V-Series Blackwing. I found it a little too stiff riding and I wasn’t sure the chassis was as well sorted as it should be.
Then I found the space to open it up. Whoo boy.
My initial take faded away as I realized that this is a car that needs to be allowed to play.
Stuffing a twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter V6 under the hood of a CT4 and mating it to a six-speed stick is a surefire way to generate some grins. Cadillac hasn’t forgotten that this car also needs to stop and turn – and it's massaged things appropriately.
To that end, the car has a MacPherson-type suspension with dual lower ball joints, stabilizer bar, and passive dampers in the front, and a five-link independent rear suspension with coil springs, passive dampers, and a hollow stabilizer bar. The suspension is adaptive and the car also has Magnetic Ride Control.
In commuting situations, the ride can be a bit uncomfortable, even a bit jarring on broken Midwest pavement. Not so bad I wouldn’t daily a Blackwing, but bad enough I’d avoid certain roads. Select the correct drive mode and find a challenging corner, though, and those concerns disappear.
This is a heavy car, and you’ll feel it, but it still feels locked in enough when hustled that you’ll be amazed at what modern technology can do. The steering gets progressively heavier as you mess with the drive-mode settings and select various modes – if you want to get aggressive, the car is happy to oblige – though it can at times feel a bit artificial.
Even with all the tech, you can get a little old-school here – if you want the tail to wag, you can manage that with some judicious throttle use or a too-quick steering input, if you’re in the right drive mode. It’s controllable – as long as you aren’t driving over your limits – and a reminder that when the electronic ninnies are set up correctly, you can have a little oversteering fun.
It’s not hard to induce some wiggle when you have 472 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque under the hood, especially since peak torque is available at 3,500 RPM. Another bit of old-school – this engine puts out a sonorous concert that’s right there with any hi-po V8.
The gearbox is generally a joy to row and the clutch is heavy, with a bit of an abrupt takeup. The Brembo brakes are stout and reliable.
Other go-fast goodies include an electronic limited-slip differential and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires (255 mm in front, 275 mm out back), 18-inch wheels, and aero/decorative bits such as a mesh grille, rear spoiler, and ground effects.
Inside, Cadillac tries to mix the entry-level luxury of the standard CT4 with some performance bits. There’s a V button on the steering wheel that helps turn the fun up to 11.
I hoped the Blackwing would be a perfect alternative to the BMW M3 or Lexus IS500 but the interior isn’t as nice as in either of those cars, and like with the base CT4, the cabin is a bit cramped. The seats also feel a bit overbolstered.
The price of entry here is $60K, and standard features unrelated to performance include navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, satellite radio, 12-inch customizable gauge cluster, LED headlamps and taillamps, wireless phone charging, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and a rear-seat reminder.
Safety aids include automatic emergency braking, forward-collision alert, front pedestrian braking, front and rear parking assist, rear-view camera, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, and lane-change alert with side blind-zone alert.
Options included a nearly $5K package for gray leather seats, $1,800 for the performance data recorder, $1,500 for bronze wheels, $725 for an air ionizer and head-up display, $625 for the Electric Blue paint, $600 for massaging front seats, $595 for bronze brake calipers, and $400 for colored seat belts. The out-the-door price was $72K and change.
If you must know about fuel economy, it’s not great at 15/23/18.
I found myself surprised, in ways both good and bad, that Cadillac leaned so hard into the performance side of the performance/luxury equation. The good news is that this pays off when you drive the car hard – its dynamics have few flaws. There’s big power, solid cornering ability, an enjoyable manual gearbox, and stout brakes. The ride does suffer a bit, but the tradeoff is worth it. This car is here to play.
The bad news is that the interior, while spiffed up, still feels a bit too downmarket. And the ride compromise will be a deal-breaker for some.
For others, that won’t matter – it will be enough that this car is fun to drive. That’s about where I fell – any annoyances and sins are forgiven when slinging this thing around an on-ramp or dropping a gear and dropping the hammer to pass some slowpoke.
Cadillac got the “yee-haw” part right. And that’s what matters most.
[Images © 2023 Tim Healey/TTAC]
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