2023 CADILLAC CT4-V BLACKWING TEST DRIVE
2023 CADILLAC CT4-V BLACKWING TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES
2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing
Like many automakers, Cadillac is a brand in transition – concurrently embracing its V8 heritage and all-electric destiny. As of today, you still can’t buy a Cadillac EV but there are a number of tasty offerings sold under the V-Series umbrella. That’s the land where hand-built, supercharged engines and manual transmissions still roam free led by a pair of sedans: the range-topping, pavement crushing CT5-V and its little brother the CT4-V. Known as the Blackwings, this is Cadillac at its naughtiest.
FROM TOUR TO TRACK
Earlier this year I spent a week with the tuxedoed sledgehammer – the Corvette-powered CT5-V. Though I knew this one couldn’t match that car’s insane speed, when this Blaze Orange CT4-V arrived I was expecting an even more rambunctious take on the performance sedan. After all, it’s priced from $30,000 less, likely attracting a more juvenile customer less concerned with comfort. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In the Tour driving mode, you could believably be in a Chevy Malibu; it’s that easygoing. Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 showcases its brilliance once again by reeling in this track-focused chassis, dispensing with any unwanted firmness. Like it tighter? Just slide that suspension meter all the way to the right and the Blackwing hunkers down affording greater control but still absent from harshness. If there’s but one takeaway from my review, it’s that this car is highly malleable; mold it however you like for the ultimate in dynamic range.
THE CADDY THAT ZIGS
While the V8 is reserved for the bigger Blackwing, GM’s evolved 3.6-liter Twin-Turbo V6 proves to be the right fit here keeping the CT4-V from feeling frontend heavy while packing a serious punch. Tuned to 472 horsepower and boosted to 445 pound-feet of torque, this is truly the Caddy that zigs, capable of laying down a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds. That can be achieved based upon the driver’s own merits or aided by a launch control sequence – even with the manual transmission. Need to warm up the 275s first? There’s also a line-lock feature that performs a 15 second burnout. These electronic goodies are found within the car’s Track settings and in conjunction with Performance Traction Management – a preprogrammed set of 5 levels of experience-based traction control intervention to be used on racetrack. Both PTM and the driver’s customizable V driving mode can be accessed right from the steering wheel. If this all sounds confusing it truly isn’t and by all means far less so than setting up similar systems in a BMW M4.
A PHENOMENAL DRIVER’S CAR…EVEN ON SNOWS
It’s that time of the year in Upstate New York when either a snowstorm or a 70-degree day is possible so Cadillac sent this car with Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 winter tires in place of the summer-only Pilot Sport 4Ss typically fitted. And though there’s been some sub-freezing temps there’s been no snow. Indeed, these are fine tires to preserve sports car performance in severe weather conditions but not without some degradation of steering feel and handling. In other words, I’m not getting the CT4-V’s best effort. Still, whether driving in the mid-range Sport mode or dabbling in the Competitive settings this is a phenomenal driver’s car. On my favorite rural roads – and there are some great ones here – I prefer most settings set to Sport but with the engine sound turned all the way up. With the exhaust flaps wide open this car lets loose with impressive off-throttle backfires that seemingly continue for days.
6-SPEED MANUAL FTW
This clutch/shifter combo is nothing short of spectacular – as easy to drive in all conditions as they come while still delivering pinpoint accuracy to gear engagement. If you were to teach someone how to drive stick this would be the perfect choice. Out here where the roads are twisty and undulating the CT4-V is incredibly poised but can be prodded into rear-drive friskiness. The electronic limited-slip differential keeps the power to the pavement and the V6’s power delivery is so linear that putting your right foot down coming out of a turn makes for the fastest, controlled getaway. Even though this car isn’t fitted with either of the available carbon fiber packages the aero still produces big downforce. Brembo brakes do the stopping but track rats will miss having carbon ceramics – an option exclusive to the bigger Blackwing.
I’ve played with Caddy’s optional Performance Data and Video Recorder many times before and love having it here. The forward-facing camera captures driving heroics with customizable overlays, saved to an SD card for later analyzation and social media sharing.
CADILLAC LUXURY INCLUDED
Priced from near $62,000 and optioned here to $71,535, And this car is loaded, highlighted by this stunning $4,900 Natural Tan leather interior bundled with a high-performance steering wheel and suede microfiber trim. Lumbar massage, automatic heated and cooled seats, a customizable head-up display and a bigtime, 15 speaker AKG audio system uphold Cadillac luxury. The 8” touchscreen display fits neatly within the CT4’s compact dimensions and supports wireless phone projection. GM’s infotainment systems are some of the best on the market so it’s very intuitive though it would be nice to see some of the performance gauges here as opposed to exclusively in the driver information display where only one metric can be viewed at a time.
Though the trunk is sized the same as the midsized CT5’s, the rear seats are very tight. The front seats are trimmed with black microfiber on their backsides and come embossed with the V logo so at least the view is nice but adults will be cramped in these 2 seats.
RARE BUT WORTH THE HUNT
With limited availability, Blackwings aren’t easy to come by, particularly with the 6-speed; the optional 10-speed automatic is an easier get. Though that one makes the CT4-V faster and more fuel efficient, this is one of those cars I’d consider the stick to be a must-have, especially because it’s that good. Feed it premium and gas mileage is rated at 18 MPG in combined driving.
The fossil-fueled sports sedan segment is dwindling quickly and though I love the EV performance boom, cars like the CT4-V Blackwing are to be cherished and revered.
2023 CADILLAC CT4-V BLACKWING TEST DRIVE | TESTDRIVENOW.COM 2023(c)