Finding its mojo

CT4 V-Series helps Cadillac re-discover itself

I get annoyed with many auto manufacturers’ naming conventions. The “alpha-numeric” naming conventions are pervasive, especially in the luxury segment. One of the leaders of the luxury segment, Cadillac, has tinkered around with their naming conventions over the last couple of decades which has led to more confusion and annoyances.

It’s honestly cost them dollars sales as they changed from one alpha numeric convention to another one (that is even more confounding). This week I’m driving one such vehicle that makes me reminisce about simpler days.

The Cadillac ATS and CTS were two awesome luxury sedans that Cadillac produced in the early part of the 2000s. They added the suped-up V-series to both cars making them even better. Then they got rid of them and changed the naming convention. Are you with me still?

This week I’m driving the 2021 Cadillac CT4 V-Series. This is the current equivalent to the ATS. The confusing name aside, don’t let that take away from the overall appeal of this sexy, small sedan.

On looks, it does lack some of the aggressive stylings of the previous ATS. It’s a little too refined for my taste as if I’m paying for a luxury punchy sedan, I want less refined looks. But if Cadillac’s design team aimed to give this a broader appeal, especially to young executives, they likely hit the mark. The grille and front end has no aggressive styling to it, and rather falls into a sleepy form that makes it merge, not stand out within this segment. The back end does have dual exhaust tips that show off its perky performance, along with a sleek, sporty but subtle spoiler.

The CT4 looks the part of a young executive’s car but that means it misses the mark of looking aggressive and voluptuous.

With the V-Series, the CT4 is ideally set up as turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder cranks out 325 horsepower. Now we’re talking – a small, squatty car with more than 300 horsepower! If that sounds fun to drive it’s because it is. The 10-speed automatic transmission holds its own with little to no noticeable turbo lag.

I usually play up all-wheel drive for most vehicles, but the standard rear-wheel drive actually is the ideal set up for this small sedan. It adds some enthusiasm to this car which already has a lot of driving personality. In AWD it would be a little too refined I fear.

The one area Cadillac seems to have gone astray from is their interior build. While the CT4 is comfortable and has good touchpoints, there aren’t many wow factors and for a luxury vehicle, I would expect more. The cabin of the CT4 didn’t feel any more special than a Buick and was a little too sleepy.

The leather seats were comfortable (more comfortable than the sporty seats of the previous ATS I recall), but the niceties like the accents and ventilated front seats are options and not standard. The same with the heated steering wheel. With the V-Series I would expect and hope for more standout features and design elements.

I give General Motors and Cadillac credit for offering a high-tech infotainment system that can rival some of the European luxury brands, but with a more intuitive nature. Their system is called Cadillac User Experience (CUE) and it’s an easy-to-use system with an 8-inch touchscreen, WIFI hot spot and two USB ports as well as a wireless charging pad, plus full smart phone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Standard vehicle price is $44,895 which puts it competitively priced. As mentioned several options that are “must haves” add to the bottom line along with the safety-minded Driver Awareness Plus Package. As tested, the final price of the 2021 Cadillac CT4 V-Series was $51,015.

The fuel economy rating for this small, luxury sedan is 20 mpg/city and 28 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of heavy-footed driving I averaged just barely 23 mpg. So with the current fuel prices that’s a little disappointing, especially from a 10-speed transmission and a four-cylinder engine. But in the end, the fun outweighs the extra trip to the gas station.

And the CT4 V-Series is fun. Cadillac is inching back toward finding their groove after a couple years of trying to rediscover itself. The CT4 goes a long way toward that rediscovery and reestablishing themselves in the luxury segment.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2021 Cadillac CT4 V-Series

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $44,895/$51,015
  • Mileage.......................................... 20 mpg/city; 28 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 2.7-liter 4-cylidner turbocharged
  • Horsepower................................. 325 hp/380 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. 10-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ Rear-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Lansing, Michigan

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