Once a down-and-out brand producing sloppy sedans, Cadillac is back on top and delivering cars that impress with dynamic handling, refined luxury, and impeccable taste. The luxury brand has revived the high-performance sedans we've come to love, this time under the Blackwing moniker, with the entry point being the CT4-V Blackwing. Though powered by a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 producing 472 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque - that is almost precisely the amount of power on tap in the base BMW M3 - the CT4-V Blackwing has been targeted at the subcompact segment, meaning it easily outmuscles Cadillac's claimed competitors, namely the Audi RS3, BMW M2, and Mercedes-AMG CLA 45. With GM slowly transforming Cadillac into an all-electric brand, could the CT4-V and its bigger brother, the CT5-V, be the last hurrah for combustion engines?
The 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is a brand-new model that takes its place as the CT4 lineup's range-topper. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard but a ten-speed automatic is available. Cadillac classifies the CT4-V Blackwing as a subcompact luxury sedan, and it's the quickest Caddy ever in this segment.
See trim levels and configurations:
3.6L Turbo V6 Gas
This Caddy is brimming with horsepower and definitely impresses in a straight line, but that's not the only place it shines; take this compact executive out on track, or weave through your favorite set of mountain bends and you'll quickly realize how competent it is at handling. The first thing one notices is the abundance of steering feel, something competitors such as BMW seem to have forgotten about. The CT4-V Blackwing offers excellent feedback, even when not pushing too hard, which dramatically adds to the overall enjoyment of the car. The Performance Traction Management (PTM) system offers several drive modes, including Wet and Race. The sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires and GM's Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 dampers work together to deliver excellent dynamics, but with the dampers, steering effort, engine response, and damper stiffness all set to Comfort mode, this Caddy feels just as refined as the most comfortable in the class. Those big Brembo brakes work a treat and show slight fade when pushed hard, but are progressive enough for comfortable daily use.
The idea of a fast Cadillac sedan has been normalized by the CTS-V, a car that set the bar pretty high, but the new generation of fast Cadillacs has pushed that bar even higher. The CT4-V Blackwing is the smallest of the Blackwing range, but that doesn't mean it lacks in performance; in fact, this performance sedan will give its German rivals a hiding in most performance metrics. Its twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 delivers a massive punch of power and, to top it all off, it's just as good in the corners and delivers a confidence-inspiring and highly entertaining driving experience. Inside, Cadillac has seriously stepped up its game. The design and quality aren't far off from its German competitors, which is a big milestone for this USA-based brand. It's sad to think that the CT4-V Blackwing and its big brother, the CT5-V, will be the last of the fast ICE Cadillacs, but learn to appreciate them in the here and now, and they shine like few others in this class.
Many consider the Audi RS3 to be the greatest subcompact performance car out there, and thanks to quattro wizardry and a potent 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, this little German likes to punch above its weight class. The 2022 RS3 promises even more performance and sharper styling. The famed 2.5-liter power plant remains and will now kick out 394 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque, which is significantly less than the 472 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque on offer in the Caddy. The RS3 will be based on the redesigned A3 and S3 platform and will get significant chassis upgrades to improve on an already capable platform. We expect the 2022 RS3 to put up a good fight against the CT4-V, which seems to be the schoolyard bully of this class. While there is no definitive figure at the time of writing, the RS3 should share a similar price to the CT4-V Blackwing.
The Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 can be considered a junior version of the CLS 53 AMG and is powered by one of the most potent 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines to ever feature in a production car. With 382 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, the CLA 45 is significantly less powerful than the Cadillac but features a quick-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and AWD, which results in a 0-60 mph time of just four seconds. The CLA 45 is the smaller car here but offers similar interior space and a larger trunk. On the inside, it manages to beat the Cadillac by a slight margin in terms of build quality and overall appeal, but Caddy has come far in terms of interior quality, and for most, it will come down to a question of styling. On the road, the little CLA 45 is a real ripper and feels more agile even though it lacks the raw speed offered by the CT4-V Blackwing. If you're after brute power, we'd recommend paying extra for the Cadillac.