Cadillac’s Blackwing vehicles are a step ahead of even the performance-focused V model line that now includes the Escalade V, and CT4-V and CT5-V. The Blackwing moniker and associated twin-turbo V8 engine originally found a home on the large CT6, but since the sedan’s exit it now exists only as a nameplate for the most powerful CT4 and CT5 variants.
The CT4 compact luxury sedan took the place of the Cadillac’s ATS sedan and was introduced in 2019 alongside the quicker V version. The Blackwing model was introduced later with its CT5 partner, representing the fastest Cadillacs in the land.
The Cadillac CT4 competes with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4, but sits well behind those established German competitors, moving about a third of what BMW and Mercedes-Benz sell. The preceding ATS sedan was excellent competition for those leaders, but also never really caught up in the eyes of the sports sedan enthusiast.
The rear-wheel drive CT4 gained length and added a hatchback over the ATS, improving the usability and looks of the already solid entry. Its technology has always impressed, and GM keeps improving its infotainment system and safety features. It also comes in less expensive than those luxury competitors, making the mystery of its sales ranking even bigger.
2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Review
The Blackwing has two aero packages that were developed using the new wind tunnel at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, as well as the tunnel used by Cadillac Racing in North Carolina. Cadillac says the CT4-V Blackwing has the highest level of aerodynamic downforce ever produced by a Cadillac V-Series production car.
Those components, honed while racing the multiple-championship-winning Cadillac Racing DPi-V.R race car, include a front underwing, dive planes and rear spoiler. Even the grille mesh is made to optimize airflow. Brake cooling ducts were 3D-printed at GM’s Additive Manufacturing facility, and keep the brakes cool on the track. Two carbon fiber packages are also available for a more extreme look.
Inside, buyers get three premium interior choices, with unique trim, appointments and technologies in tan, black and gray colors and in suede, cloth and leather material. An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard on CT4-V Blackwing with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, along with wireless charging.
A premium sound system is offered with 15 speakers and buyers can also option the Performance Data Recorder video camera to record their track escapades or even daily driving. The CT4 Blackwing also has a sport steering wheel with carbon fiber accents.
The cabin looks sporty and modern with light gray, diamond-stitched leather seats and carbon fiber trim. The shifter is swathed in suede for a good grip and the accent colors show that this is a special vehicle. The start button is to the left of the steering wheel but the V mode button and the traction control are right on it for easy access. Like the Chevrolet Corvette, the CT4-V Blackwing has a dial for traction with
Regular CT4s come with a a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, producing 237 horsepower (hp) and 258-pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque. The Premium Luxury trim ups that to a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 310 hp and 350 lb-ft. The CT4-V keeps that engine but gets additional output with 325 hp and 380 lb-ft.
This Blackwing model ditches the four-cylinder for a new twin-turbocharged V6 making 472 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque. The rear-drive-only chassis comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission while a ten-speed paddle-shifted automatic is optional.
This tester has a manual transmission and it reminds the driver how much fun it used to be when all the pilot was responsible for were the three pedals, steering wheel and shifter. The clutch pedal has just the right effort, not too heavy, not too soft, and the takeup point where the car starts moving is right near the middle.
The throttle and brakes get more aggressive and sensitive as the drive modes go from Normal to Sport to V. With these non-electrified brakes the pedal progression is perfect for a smooth or quick stop. In the racier modes the brake is very stiff with tons of stopping power.
The steering is accurate and quick (quicker in Sport and V mode) though there wasn’t a ton of feedback through the wheel. This tester was also on winter tires, the optional summer tires make it even sharper. Still, the CT4-V Blackwing is easy to push through corners quickly and accurately.
The suspension feels more compliant than the competition from BMW and Mercedes. It’s still firmer than most, but even bigger potholes don’t ring though the cabin, nor do they affect the steering wheel in any meaningful way. The softer tires helped here too, absorbing a bit more of that impact.
The twin-turbo V6 revs up quickly and easily, and comes with a very European sound. It doesn’t growl or bark as hard as the more powerful and V8-equipped CT5-V Blackwing, which makes a bit of a sleeper (a car that looks slower but is fast) in a plain color.
The Cadillac SMART safety system is standard with automatic emergency braking with forward collision alert, safety alert seat, which tells occupants if cars are approaching when exiting the vehicle, rear park assist, rear vision camera and the rear seat reminder that senses if an infant was left in the back seat.
The CT4-V Blackwing also comes with following distance indicator, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert and automatic high beams are standard. Adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic emergency braking and reverse automatic braking are optional.
The 2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing competes with the most extreme rides from BMW and Mercedes including the M3 and C63 AMG, respectively. Those top-tier vehicles come in about $10,000 more expensive than the Blackwing, though both the BMW M3 ($74,300) and Mercedes-AMG C63 ($81,000) have more power.
Still, power isn’t everything. And the new Blackwing is probably the handsomest of the bunch. It also offers a manual transmission, which the Mercedes does not. Those Germans also come standard with all-wheel drive, though they both have a rear-drive, drift mode to act like rear-wheel drive vehicles. All three are excellent sports sedans for the price. If you live in a northern climate, the AWD cars might be a better fit. However, stepping down to the still-very-good CT4-V, buyers can get AWD there too.