Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing takes on the BMW M3 Competition and leaves no stone unturned.
This certainly isn’t the horrible reclothed Saab we were punished with in the mid-2000s. The new Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is nothing less than a thoroughbred performance sedan created to battle it out with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, BMW M3 Competition and Mercedes-AMG C63 S.
Based on General Motors’ Alpha platform, it follows on from the well regarded ATS-V. But in a last hurrah for both high-powered petrol engines and sports sedans, Cadillac’s engineers have thrown everything at the new Blackwing flagships, which also include the BMW M5 CS-rivalling CT5-V Blackwing.
The BMW 3 Series-size sedan misses out on its bigger brother’s glorious supercharged 6.2-litre V8, instead getting an uprated twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre V6 with an upgraded lubrication system, a new intake, a new exhaust and fresh turbos. This is combined with either a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission or an even swifter Ford-GM 10-speed automatic.
All-wheel drive isn’t an option; instead the 352kW and 603Nm of torque are channelled to the rear wheels via an electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
Up front, there’s the usual pseudo-MacPherson strut, while at the rear there’s a five-link independent suspension set-up combined with GM’s latest fourth-generation Magnetic Ride Control system.
Cementing its status as an engineers’ car, the CT4-V Blackwing shuns the usual big wheels, coming with 18-inch staggered rims that are wrapped with specially formulated Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber.
Unlike the CT5-V, which has a set of mighty carbon-ceramic brakes that were developed largely in-house, the small CT4-V gets a set of Brembo stoppers that are clamped down with six pistons up front and four at the rear. Boosting feel is a brake servo lifted straight out of the Chevrolet Corvette.
Unusually, Cadillac has tapped into its motorsport heritage (or more likely Chevrolet’s) and developed a big aerodynamics package (an almost $10k option) that adds a carbonfibre front splitter, front dive planes, a rear diffuser and an extended rear spoiler to reduce lift by up to 214 per cent. No claims for downforce have been released, but the big rear wing is vital to offset the dumpy rear looks that inflict the standard CT4.
Against the clock, the CT4-V Blackwing is evenly matched with the M3 Competition, taking 4.0sec with the 10-speed auto to smash the 0-100km/h sprint (versus 4.2sec to 100km/h for the BMW), although the top speed is claimed to be above 304km/h.
Priced from just $58,995 (AUD$80,000), the CT4-V Blackwing is nothing short of a performance car bargain beside the $150k price on the BMW M3 Competition, especially since the only need to visit the Cadillac’s options list is for the bodykit. We would also stick with the no-cost manual rather than the $3000 auto.
Climb behind the wheel and the CT4-V Blackwing instantly impresses. Drive it back to back with the sublime CT5-V Blackwing and you will initially miss both the soundtrack and almost EV-like torque-everywhere qualities of the supercharged V8, but get past that and there’s lots to love.
Despite it being down on a couple of cylinders and sounding a little uninspiring around town, there’s no doubting the energy of the V6, nor the performance it dishes up when combined with the auto.
While the two-pedal transmission can throw in a couple of duff changes at low speeds, it comes into its element on faster country roads.
Since it’s built for track driving as well as road, the CT4-V Blackwing is equipped with a multi-stage traction-control system that works along with different driving modes.
In all honesty, the system is largely best left alone on the road, with the small Blackwing optimal in either its Tour or Sport mode or a combination of the two.
Impressively, ride quality on its modest rims is never an issue, and nor is a lack of body control, even on the nastiest Californian roads we could find.
In fact, push on and the trick magnetic dampers have an uncanny ability to shrug off all manner of horrors, while the grip dished up by the bespoke tyres borders on astonishing, giving the impression of far stickier Cup rubber at times.
Throw in precise steering and powerful brakes that cope with unbelievable levels of abuse and the small Cadillac bestows huge confidence in you. It also has a playful side that’s best explored on track, rather than dusty canyon roads.
It’s a crying shame that you can’t and likely never will be able to buy either the CT4-V Blackwing or its even more outrageous CT5-V sibling through GMSV in Australia.
Both feel like the pinnacle of the sports sedan in a way that the BMW M5 CS and Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm are to Europe.
The beauty of the CT4-V Blackwing is in its wide breadth of abilities and levels of engagement, all wrapped up into a package that can be enjoyed every single day, at little more than half the price of its closest German rival.