Lighter, leaner, easier to park, easier to pay for. Given a choice between a smaller or larger “version” of a car, I’ll almost always take the lil guy for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with my 97th percentile height.
Such is the case with the lovely-to-drive Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, which suffers a bit from some interior tech woes, but is mainly overshadowed in car nerd conversations by its all-world big brother, the CT5-V Blackwing. As it turns out one doesn’t actually need to have 668 horsepower to have a good time.
With a riotous 472-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engine spinning the rear wheels, and a supple-as-you-like MagneRide 4.0 suspension, the baby Blackwing is a live thing on the best back roads and a calm commuting companion. Unlike the truly hairy CT5 Blackwing, that makes the smaller performance sedan a better fit for most enthusiast drivers, most of the time.
Now, the other Motor1.com editors didn’t completely agree with my analysis in our 4 vs 5 comparison test earlier this year or in their driving notes below. But suffice it to say, there’s at least an interesting less-is-more case to be made inside the Blackwing family.
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Brett T. Evans, Senior Editor
- Favorite Thing: Flingable Compact-Sedan Fun
- Least Favorite Thing: Dyson-Spec Exhaust Note
Squint a little and it’s not hard to see the bygone Cadillac ATS sedan peeking out from underneath the veneer of the CT4. Given the former compact sedan’s nimble performance and trim styling, that’s not a bad thing – especially in the case of the top-dog CT4-V Blackwing. Featuring an updated version of the old ATS-V’s twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 and mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission, the Blackwing is fast as hell.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound as impressive as it drives. As on the ATS-V, the CT4-V Blackwing emits a dull, throbbing noise from its twin exhaust tips in most driving situations. No matter which mode the active exhaust is set to, the Blackwing just doesn’t inspire much emotion in normal driving, reducing the sedan’s everyday-fun quotient a bit. Open the throttle up a bit farther and you’ll eventually be greeted with some chopsaw snarl once the tachometer needle swings past 4,500 rpm, but if you’re just trundling around town, the CT4 sounds bland at best.
There is a bright side, however. Once you’ve found that marginally more fun exhaust noise, you’ll be able to keep the party going thanks to incredible handling dynamics. The old ATS was already the smallest car in its class, and thanks to segment creep, the CT4-V Blackwing feels positively Lilliputian, which pays massive dividends in fast transitions. The Caddy changes direction far more aggressively than the similarly sized Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, rewarding skilled drivers with excellent balance and helping novices build confidence via flat handling and tenacious grip.
The Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing also looks exceptional. The sport sedan has the mature, long-hood proportions that the front-drive–based CLA can only dream about, though if you insist on boy-racer styling, there are plenty of optional carbon fiber accents you can add on. The interior is decently appointed, though memories of your grandma’s 2015 Impala occasionally creep in via the radio and climate control buttons. If you’re able to excuse that minor snafu, the CT4-V Blackwing is a stunning example of Cadillac’s commitment to dynamic, well-sorted sport sedans.
Clint Simone, Director of Video
- Favorite Thing: Phenomenal Driving Character
- Least Favorite Thing: Living In A Shadow
Our Blackwing week was one of the best I’ve ever had at this crazy job of mine. We sampled both of Cadillac’s super sedans, the CT4 and CT5-V Blackwing, at the same time to sort out the differences between the two.
I spent the first portion of the week exclusively with the CT4, which ended up being great. Automotive media was raving about the car’s bigger sibling, but I had heard very little about the CT4-V Blackwing prior to driving it. What stuck out to me most was the car’s overall approachability. In every situation, the CT4 was easy to manage and showed off crazy-high limits – more than anyone can touch on a public road.
With 472 horsepower to flaunt, the Blackwing was holy sh*t fast. The twin turbos make their presence known in dramatic fashion with immense shove flattening driver and passenger alike into the ample sport seats. Brett’s right: the noise could be much better, but it’s still gritty enough to be fun.
Other parts of the car, like its sophisticated magnetic ride control and beautifully tuned steering, were top-tier for a sports sedan. As a total package, the CT4 felt just as well sorted as a BMW M3 Competition, or a Mercedes-AMG C63. But unfortunately, I think a lot of people will overlook that for one big reason.
After driving the (much pricier) CT5, it was hard to look at the CT4 with the same admiration. With that glorious supercharged V8, it felt as though Cadillac put its whole heart into the CT5, and I think it will go down as a legend because of it.
It’s unfair to use this as a critique for the CT4-V Blackwing because frankly, it didn’t do anything wrong. But years down the road it won’t be remembered the way it should be, which is a shame. The sum of its parts is a fantastic sports car, just not a memorable one.
Seyth Miersma, Editor-In-Chief
- Favorite Thing: Suspension Response
- Least Favorite Thing: Interior Appeal
I take most of the performance cars I’m testing to a little loop of roads, just north of Ann Arbor, Michigan. I don’t have canyons to carve like the LA team, but the run is a compact way to do some shakedown miles on fun cars like the CT4 Blackwing. (Also, there’s little weekday traffic and a place to get french fries after… huge.)
The best stretch of this route involves a kind of flat-out straight, into a 90-degree left-hander, followed quickly by four corners at the tops of small hills. The surface also varies from pretty smooth to broken asphalt in places. All in, your vehicle is dealing with variance in primary and secondary ride issues, quick loading and unloading of the suspension, and a few nutty off-camber cornering events. And a car like the Blackwing is dealing with them all rapidly.
Cadillac’s MagneRide setups have long offered a great balance between sporty and comfortable driving characteristics, but on a road like this the sport setting gets a real workout. The firm damping always keeps body motions in check – in fact the CT4 always felt washboard stiff even powering out of a wonky downhill corner – but with just enough compliance to not get nervous on bumpy sections of road. It’s impressive, seamless technology that complements drivers of all skill levels.
The mandate for chassis and suspension technology typically involves being somewhat hidden from the driver, but almost the opposite is true of the visible technology in cabin. And while Cadillac excels at the former, it stumbles with the latter.
To say it plainly, the Blackwing has disappointing in-cabin tech compared to its competitors. The has everything most drivers need on the infotainment front, but it doesn’t have much that they don’t know they need but really want.
You only need to sit in a comparable BMW, Genesis, or Mercedes product to see the dramatic difference in screen sizes, clever graphics, superior processing power, and better touch response. Oh, and that’s still discounting the better and more interesting shapes, materials, and finishes that surround the big pretty screens.
Now, I might argue that the Caddy has all the tech I need in a focused sports sedan (I can listen to podcasts and mirror my phone screen, which is about all I want). But that argument has the whiff of “old man yells at cloud” in 2022. Cadillac can, and should, do better to appeal to a wider range of car buyers.
Gallery: 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing V. Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing
2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing