2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing first drive review: Voracious
Should you have the necessary budget and a need for speed, virtually every luxury sedan on the market today can be yours with some sort of an enthusiast-oriented package. Whether it comes courtesy of AMG or wears an M badge, manufacturers are usually happy to give a little more performance in exchange for a hefty premium.
However, were you to actually take these machines with their bigger wheels and flared fenders to the race circuit, you'd find that most lack the poise to match their pomp. That's not so with Cadillac's V-Series and especially with the latest, the 472-horsepower CT4-V Blackwing. This unlikely brand has has yet again generated one of the most track-capable luxury sedans on the planet. By capable I don't mean necessarily the quickest or the fastest, but a car that you could actually take to a track, run all day long and yet still have a reasonable expectation of getting home with tires and brakes remaining.
That formula has reached its ultimate expression in the new Blackwing series, the moniker attached to the highest-spec versions of the 2022 CT4-V and CT5-V. Of the two, it's the one with the lower number that's probably best-suited for regular track use -- though I am of course very aware that few if any owners will actually put that to the test.
I certainly did, at one of the most challenging and demanding circuits in the USA: Virginia International Raceway (better known as VIR). Cadillac was kind enough to rent the whole place out, letting me run the 3.3-mile full course configuration to my heart's content.
The rear-wheel-drive CT4-V Blackwing's twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 also offers 445 pound-feet of torque, driving the sedan to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds and onward to a top speed of 189 mph. Helping to keep the car on the road at that speed is a bespoke aero kit that Cadillac says produces the most downforce of anything the company has ever applied to a production car.
Looking at that pronounced rear spoiler -- not to mention the chin spoiler and other appendages sticking out as part of the optional aero package -- you'd certainly expect that to be the case. Visually the strakes and fins are perhaps a bit much, but as I was bombing down VIR's blind, dog-legged front straight at 140 mph, I was indeed very thankful for it all.
VIR is a bumpy, brutal place when taken at speed, with punishing curbs and run-off areas featuring lovely expanses of slippery grass that will carry you directly to the nearest wall. It's a major test for the best and, session after session, the CT4-V Blackwing felt absolutely at home. Its magnetorheological suspension ate up the big bumps and allowed this 3,900-pound beast to float over the curbs. Despite that, the car seemed to settle instantly, turning in sharply to every bend and braking with impeccable poise and balance.
After every session I wanted to get out of the car to check that I really was in a big, heavy Cadillac. But doing so would have meant leaving the comfortable, ventilated seats in exchange for the sticky Virginia heat. Most of the time, I just sat in the idling car until someone said I could head out for another session.
If there's one complaint it's that those seats could use a bit more bolstering to compensate for the Blackwing's 1.04 g of lateral acceleration, but given the intent of this car I'm not sure I would have traded more support for that very-necessary ventilation.
Impressively, the Blackwing can be optioned with your choice of a 10-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission. The latter was my favorite, with firm shifter feel augmented by Cadillac's rev-matching and lift-free upshifting. That said, the 10-speed auto was no slouch and a great companion for my first few sessions on this unfamiliar track. It shifted quickly when I wanted it to, smoothly when I didn't and did a great job of picking the right gear at the right time.
It was also the stress-free option for the afternoon street drive, a meandering cruise through the wilds of North Carolina. This drive didn't come close to testing what the Blackwing had in terms of performance, but it reinforced the idea that, yes, this is still a Cadillac. The CT4-V is still every bit as comfortable as a base CT4 and while it is a bit louder that sound is anything but annoying or droning. The low, burbling exhaust sounds good at any speed.
The Blackwing carries a full technology suite, including wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus comprehensive active safety with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. Adaptive cruise is a $900 option, something missing on earlier V sedans, but sadly Cadillac's hallmark Super Cruise system is not available.
The 18-inch wheel-and-tire package surely helped ride quality on the road, where I was able to spend more time fiddling with the various drive modes. There's a dedicated V button on the steering wheel that drops the car into its sportiest settings, augmented by a separate traction control knob on the right where you can dial up or down how much digital assistance you want, ranging from a conservative rain setting and running all the way up to Race 2. Here, the car's stability control system will let you get well and truly out of shape and won't cut in so long as you're doing the right thing to recover.
After a long day behind the wheel I was properly blown away by the CT4-V Blackwing. It is among the most track-capable luxury sedans on the market. Compared to the competition's sportier offerings, like say a BMW M3 Competition, it's far more attainable, too, with a starting price of $59,990 including $995 destination. You'll spend about $3,000 more if you want the automatic transmission and budget another $7,000 if you want all that carbon fiber. Loaded, you're looking at $87,775.
That's a lot of money, no doubt about it, but you're getting a lot of performance in exchange. Intrigued? Don't hold out too long. Sedans aren't long for this world, especially magical ones like this.
Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.