The CT4-V Blackwing, heir to the ATS-V, hits 60 in 3.8 seconds. It has a twin-turbo 3.6L V6 that produces 472 hp and 445 lbs.-ft. of torque.
“This is the sort of vehicle Cadillac absolutely has to have in its showroom,” said Eric Noble, president of product development consultancy The Carlab. “Performance subbrands contribute disproportionately to the image and profit of luxury brands.”
The cars should be on sale this summer. Prices start at $84,990 for the 5 Blackwing and $59,990 for the 4. Both will have a standard six-speed transmission and optional 10-speed automatic.
The 5 competes with high-performance sport sedans like the BMW M3 and Mercedes AMG.
The 4 competes with smaller vehicles like the Audi RS3, Mercedes AMG GLA 45 and A 35.
Cadillac’s V-series high-performance subbrand debuted on the 2004 CTS-V and won a loyal following for building luxury cars that were both blisteringly fast and suited to everyday driving.
The CT5 and 4′s debuts in 2019 and ’20, respectively, were hampered by the pandemic as the dealers who sell them and factories that build the cars started, stopped and reinvented how they operate.
The Blackwings may be a chance to generate momentum for the last two gasoline-powered cars in Cadillac’s lineup as the brand shifts to SUVs and electric power.
Momentum should be what the Blackwings do best. In addition to more power than more of their competitors offer, available features on the 5, 4 or both will include what engineers say is the fastest-reacting adaptive suspension in the world and the biggest brake discs in Caddy history, including optional carbon-ceramic brakes on the 5 to manage the heat of repeated stops from speeds over 200 mph.
Why not all-wheel drive?
The CT5-V Blackwing is the most powerful Cadillac ever, with 28 hp more than the previous leader, the 2018 CTS-V.
The CT4-V Blackwing tops out at 189 mph. It, too, is slightly more powerful than its predecessor, the ATS-V.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard in both cars, a sop to diehards unwilling to admit that a modern automatic shifts faster and better than they do. Top speed for both Blackwings comes with the optional 10-speed automatic.
Cadillac will only build the cars with rear-wheel drive, a decision that reduces weight and manufacturing complexity but is likely to cost them sales.
“We’re at a point where luxury buyers associate ultimate performance with all-wheel drive,” Noble said.
Buyers aren’t necessarily right about that, but there’s no doubt the lack of AWD will make the Blackwings three-season cars that most owners park for the winter.
Cadillac says it omitted AWD because the system wouldn’t improve the cars’ performance on the racetrack, but in a world where even the Porsche 911 turbo has an AWD model, the decision is likely to hurt the bottom line by reducing sales.
“Racing is fun, but it’s never sold a Cadillac, and it never will,” Noble said.
New name, familiar performance and value
The Blackwing name is new, borrowed from a short-lived V8 engine. Cadillac decided to offer the V-series badge on less powerful, less expensive cars to boost sales, so it created the “V-series Blackwing” badge for its most exciting and expensive cars. That strategy fueled skeptics who feared Cadillac was diluting its performance brand and abandoning truly high-performance cars.
The Blackwings’ specifications say otherwise, and both of the new Caddies offer a lot for the money compared to the most powerful cars from Audi, BMW, Lexus, Jaguar and Mercedes.
The cars’ exteriors feature plenty of extra air inlets for engine cooling and aerodynamics, wider front fenders, a mesh grille that improves air flow and optional carbon fiber. Brake calipers will come in four colors and magnesium wheels will be available.
Interior features include front headrests designed to accommodate racing helmets comfortably, optional carbon fiber seat backs, suede microfiber headliner and AKG audio. A new steering wheel with magnesium paddle shifters will have a serial-number badge with the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN).