2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing first drive review: One more than too much
Sometimes you have to ask the question whether enough of a good thing is truly enough?
If you want a luxury sedan that'll waft you to the race track and then humiliate some proper sports cars in every hot-lap session, Cadillac's V-Series cars have always been a good choice. The DNA of that line is strong, pulling in experience from General Motors' Corvette and Camaro lineage to create legitimate track day performers.
Now, with sedans a dying breed and the big-displacement engines that power them under threat, Cadillac is turning up its V-Series to 11 for one final go with the new Blackwing models. The CT4-V Blackwing is the lesser of the two, a 472-horsepower beast that recently blew me away on the track. It's a miracle of power and performance. But then there's its bigger brother.
The 2022 CT5-V Blackwing is built on the same platform and visually similar to the CT4-V, but with enough power and performance to make its sibling seem a bit quaint. Power here comes from GM's venerable LT4 engine, a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 producing 668 hp and 649 pound-feet of torque. That's nearly 200 more ponies than the CT4-V Blackwing, enough to drop the 0-to-60 mph time to 3.4 seconds. The quarter-mile will pass beneath this thing's 19-inch wheels in 11.3 seconds at 129 mph.
The CT5-V Blackwing is, to put it mildly, a monster. But it's one with enough smarts and features to be manageable -- even calm and composed. Cadillac's most advanced magnetorheological suspension is here, working its magic to make the Blackwing as poised over Virginia International Raceway's many bumps and curbs as it is when cruising over more casual streets, while a 10-speed automatic transmission not only offers brutally quick shifts, but smooth and calm ones, too.
Perhaps more importantly, this car is available with a six-speed manual transmission, and a fine one at that, with short throws and tight feel. Honestly the auto is so good it's hard to imagine wanting the manual, but then if this car is meant to be a beautiful swan-song to performance sedans, you might as well deliver all the hits.
The CT5-V Blackwing's iron brakes are the biggest Cadillac has ever offered, measuring a whopping 15.7 inches up front. But spend another $9,800 and you can step up to carbon-ceramic stoppers, which are even bigger at 15.8 inches.
All of this is wrapped in a package that's 5.7 inches longer than the CT4-V Blackwing, clad in a somewhat more subtle exterior than its smaller sibling. There's no hood vent this time; air is directed downward and out, including through generous ports situated low on the front fenders, hinting at the amount of heat that LT4 pumps out. A modest wing at the back provides enough downforce to counter the car's lift at speed.
How much speed? Cadillac says the CT5-V Blackwing can break through the 200-mph barrier. I wasn't able to test that, but I did well in excess of 100 mph multiple times per lap at Virginia International Raceway. VIR features a generous kink on its front straight, making it a blind test of courage as you aim towards the wall and keep your foot flat. With the speedometer needle swinging towards 150 mph, all 668 hp pushing me along, the Blackwing was stable and calm right up to the point where I jumped on the brake pedal.
Impressively, the Blackwing was just as settled through the S-curves that followed and through the most technical turns that VIR has to offer. It's a classic, bumpy circuit with fast turns and big penalties if you get them wrong. With the CT5-V Blackwing, everything felt right.
That's not to say it wasn't a handful. That much power exclusively delivered to the rear wheels means it's easy to get yourself into trouble, despite the active rear differential and all sorts of advance traction and stability control safety blankets. Full throttle is best deployed when the car is pointed straight and the suspension is settled, and hot damn does it go.
The steering is light but precise, the car pulling 1.01 Gs in the corners, enough to make the comfortable sport seats feel not quite sporty enough. But then, there aren't that many cars capable of moving this well on the track while delivering a back massage.
I sadly wasn't able to sample the CT5-V Blackwing on public roads, but I dialed the car back to its more comfortable modes on the cool-down laps and aimed for as many bumps as I could find. I feel confident saying it'll be at least as good on the road as the CT4-V Blackwing proved to be, which is to say very good indeed.
Getting one on the road will cost you a fair bit more, however. The MSRP on the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing starts at $84,990, including $995 for destination. The Blackwing comes with a comprehensive active safety system, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, but you'll need to pony up another $900 if you want adaptive cruise control and emergency braking in reverse. Tick all the boxes and you're looking at $125,980.
That means you're spending a minimum of $25,000 more than the CT4-V Blackwing, which is itself a sublime performer. Worth it? It's hard to think of anyone needing more than the smaller Blackwing has to offer, but then cars in six-figure territory are rarely about meeting needs. As for me, I just want another few laps.
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.