by Gerhard Horn
The Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is the very last of a dying breed. It's a four-door go-faster luxury sedan that slots in between BMW's M3 and M5 size-wise. As standard, it has a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 delivering 668 horsepower and 659 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent to the rear wheels only. As an added bonus, a manual transmission is standard, but you do have the option of going for a ten-speed automatic. With the latter gearbox, it'll power its way to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds.
With Cadillac now making a big move to electric power - just look at the all-new Lyriq - this car is an epic way to say goodbye to the internal combustion era. It's the perfect blend of old-school power and modern technology, which should keep it on the road for a few years yet. You get more power than any of the German rivals can provide, but at a more palatable price. It's a more-than-worthy alternative to the best BMW M cars and AMG-badged Mercedes sedans.
The CT5-V Blackwing sedan is an all-new model, joining the existing CT5 range. Essentially, it's two things. First, it's a rival for the BMW M3, even though it rocks up at the battle with a supercharged V8 producing 668 hp and 659 lb-ft of torque. In addition to stupid power, it also has Magnetic Ride Control, a five-link rear suspension, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. Its second goal is to be one of the last hurrahs for internal combustion. GM recently announced that all its cars would be electric from 2035. Chalk the CT5-V up as another example of motoring's finest decade. Since manufacturers know internal combustion is on the way out, they're doing the most while they still can.
See trim levels and configurations:
6.2L Supercharged V8 Gas
It's easy to tell the new CT5-V Blackwing apart from the standard CT5. It comes with loads of model-specific exterior enhancements, including a front splitter, rear spoiler, rear diffuser, fender vents, and rocker extensions. It also gets full LED exterior lights, and Brembo brakes with calipers in grey as standard, or in blue, red, or bronze at additional cost. Most of the exterior enhancements are functional. The larger grille openings do a much better job of directing the airflow to the radiators, while the front splitter reduces lift at high speed. The Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is not subtle, and we like that. 19-inch wheels are standard and a power sunroof is available. The final difference is also the most noticeable. It has quad exhaust pipes that emit a shallow rumble that excites gearheads while emotionally scarring Prius drivers.
The CT5-V Blackwing rides on a 116-inch wheelbase, placing it between the BMW 3 Series and BMW 5 Series in size. The overall length is 194.9 inches and it's 74.1 inches wide without mirrors. Thanks to its 56.5-inch height, you should have no problems getting in and out. The CT5-V is on the heavier side, though. A BMW M3 weighs 3,840 pounds, while an M5 weighs in at 4,345 lbs. The CT5-V sits right in the middle of the two while producing more power than both. With 668 hp on tap, the curb weight of 4,123 lbs (4,142 with automatic) was never going to be a problem.
Thankfully, Cadillac gives you a wide selection of hues to choose from with a nice split between elegant and wild. The no-cost options are Summit White and Black Raven. The premium metallic colors retail for $625 and the options include Satin Steel, Blaze Orange, Shadow, Wave, Electric Blue, and Rift. Infrared Tintcoat costs $1,225, while the limited Dark Emerald Frost adds a hefty $3,925 to the price. Customers can also opt for black mirror caps ($195) or wheels with a Tech Bronze finish ($1,500).
The CT5-V Blackwing is an absolute monster of a sedan. It comes standard with a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine producing 668 hp and 659 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent exclusively to the rear wheels, but you can choose between two gearboxes. You can have a ten-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission.
The six-speed manual transmission is slightly slower to 60 mph. Cadillac estimates it should get there in 3.6 seconds, while the faster shifting ten-speed automatic transmission will get the Caddy from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds. Cadillac doesn't claim a specific top speed, but it does state that it's more than 200 mph.
This makes it faster than just about everything else out there, at least at the top end. The German rivals are all restricted to below 200 mph, but both the BMW M5 Competition and Mercedes-AMG E63 S will outsprint it in a straight line. The Bimmer gets to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds, while the Merc will do it in 3.3 seconds. These are not the kinds of margins you'll be able to feel from behind the wheel.
The reason behind the German duo's impressive sprint times is all-wheel drive. Once power outputs started breaching 600 hp, the Germans saw AWD as an absolute necessity. Cadillac expects you to nut up and dominate those 668 horses using a rear-wheel drive only. Thankfully, you do get an advanced driving course as standard with the purchase.
The engine Cadillac chose for the CT5-V Blackwing is pure Americana. Instead of twin turbos, Cadillac uses a 1.7-liter Eaton supercharger bolted to a 6.2L V8 engine. Essentially, it's a slightly updated version of the V8 used in the old CTS-V.
It's an older engine, but we like it for many reasons. First, it feels and sounds American. There's nothing quite like the roar of a V8 coming from the rear and the whine of a supercharger joining in from the front. Because it's an existing engine, Cadillac is also able to offer the CT5-V Blackwing at a more affordable price than the M5 and E63. Both these cars retail for more than $100k, while the Caddy comes in at under $90,000.
A quick look at the specs show that the supercharged V8 delivers 668 hp at 6,500 rpm and 659 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. While the torque figure arrives slightly late to the party, both gearboxes allow you to get the most out of the car. The ten-speed automatic transmission has enough gear ratios to constantly keep the car in the powerband, and in the manual, you get to make all of the choices. If you want to attack a corner at 6,000 rpm in second gear, there's nothing stopping you from doing just that.
While we respect the modern automatic gearbox and believe that it will eventually be the demise of the manual transmission, we do love the ultimate control that comes with a manual. And let's not forget, this is the last V8 manual sedan available in the USA. Perhaps it might be a bit of a collector's item one day?
Still, there is a reasonable case to be made for the automatic transmission. We do think CT5-V Blackwing owners are the kind of people that will partake in the occasional track outing. With so much power going through the rear wheels only, the CT5-V has the potential to be a wild vehicle in amateur hands. Equipping it with an automatic transmission gives the driver one less thing to worry about while trying to set an impressive lap time. The transmission software is perfectly happy on track, and it will get the job done. As the driver, you'd then be free to focus on braking, applying power, and steering.
While the engine may be old-school, there's nothing outdated about the suspension. This Caddy has a fully independent suspension setup with an impressive five-link system at the rear. In addition, it comes standard with Magnetic Ride Control, which can automatically change the damper settings in five milliseconds. Add to that an electronic limited-slip rear differential, Brembo high-performance brakes, and Cadillac's Performance Traction Management system, and the result is a sublime driving experience. The latter is activated by engaging the Track mode, which gives you five more modes designed for various track conditions. These include Wet, Dry, Sport, Race 1, and Race 2. More than anything, these various modes help you build confidence as you get to know the car.
For a heavy vehicle with almost 670 hp, the CT5-V is remarkably easy to drive quickly. If you do overcook it a bit, which is highly unlikely considering the sticky Michelin tires, the standard Brembo brakes do an epic job of reigning it back in. In fact, the hardest part is deciding which gearbox to get. The automatic transmission is extremely smart on the track, knowing exactly when to shift up or down. But the manual transmission is more engaging and comes with flat-foot shifting and rev-matching technology. Either way, you'll get a great track weapon. The electric steering provides excellent feel for such a system, and it's easy to loosen the rear end with the loud pedal, but it all happens in a remarkably controllable manner. On the flip side, the magnetic dampers also make the Caddy a perfect daily companion. It settles down and provides a plush driving experience in the city and on the highway. The CT5-V can easily stand toe-to-toe with the best Germany has to offer.
To summarize, the CT5-V is one of those cars that's all things to all men. If we had to pick one car for the rest of our lives right now… Well, the Cadillac would certainly make the shortlist, and that's high praise.
The news was never going to be good, but there is another way of looking at it. As mentioned earlier, the less powerful German rivals retail for more than $100k. You can use the money you save on the purchase price to spend on fuel. It won't take long to spend it all, however. According to the EPA, the CT5-V Blackwing with a manual transmission can do 13/21/15 mpg city/highway/combined. Thankfully, the ten-speed automatic is marginally more efficient, with EPA-estimated figures of 13/22/16 mpg. The regular fuel stops might just drive you crazy. For some reason, Cadillac decided a 17-gallon tank was good enough, which means you're looking at 272 miles at best between refills.
The CT5-V Blackwing's interior is essentially the same as the standard CT5 with a few model-specific touches like carbon fiber inserts. You can expect a surround-view camera, a head-up display, a 12-inch digital instrument cluster, and a ten-inch high-definition touchscreen display. Jet Black performance leather seats are also standard, but you can choose from a wide selection of high-performance bucket seats trimmed in upmarket materials. The quality of the materials are not on par with the German rivals, but Cadillac is closer than ever before. We like the logical layout, and the available interior extras. If you are going to track this thing, you should definitely invest in the performance bucket seats and the brilliantly useful performance data recorder.
As mentioned earlier, the CT5 is somewhere between a BMW 3 and 5 Series in size. That makes it large enough for five adults. The wheelbase is within an inch of other executive sports sedans, though Cadillac maintains this is a compact luxury competitor. Whichever way you look at it, it's the customer that benefits. The Caddy has 42.4 inches of legroom in the front and 37.9 inches in the rear. The front headroom is 39 inches, though it tapers off due to the CT5's interesting design from the B-pillar backwards. Still, 36.6 inches in the rear is still more than enough for the average person.
Both front seats are power adjustable, so finding that perfect driving position is easy. If you do want to use it on track, it's worth paying extra for the high-performance bucket seats. These offer more side support when cornering at speed, while maintaining a high degree of comfort.
The standard trim is Jet Black leather with Jet Black accents, coupled with carbon fiber trim. For an additional $2,890, you can add high-performance bucket seats in Jet Black or Sky Cool Grey, and a sueded microfiber wrapped interior trim package. The semi-aniline leather options cost $6,090 and all come with Jet Black accents. Main color options include Jet Black, Sky Cool Gray, and Natural Tan. Seat belts can be finished in Torch Red ($400) or Natural Tan, but the latter requires the expensive semi-aniline leather. The standard steering wheel is wrapped in leather and has alloy paddle shifters for the automatic.
The trunk is on the small side, even in a segment where limited cargo capacity is the norm. The Caddy's wheelbase is nearly on par with the BMW 5 Series, yet it can't even get close to the 3's 17-cubic-foot trunk. You only get 11.9 cubes to work with, which is fine for the daily grind. Longer trips with passengers might be tricky, however. You'll have to limit the family's packing to helmets and Nomex suits. The rear seats do fold flat, but Cadillac does not provide a figure for the increased capacity.
Interior storage is equally underwhelming. There are dual cupholders up front, a center armrest with a storage space, and large door pockets.
As the halo model in the CT5 range and Cadillac's most powerful production car ever, we expected a lot as standard. And, thankfully, Caddy delivered. The Blackwing comes standard with LED headlights, LED cornering lights, keyless entry and start, a surround-view camera, wireless phone charging, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats, a heated steering wheel, a digital instrument cluster, a head-up display with a shift light, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, blind-spot assist, and rear cross-traffic assist.
The standard driver-assistance features depend on whether you choose a manual or automatic. This is simply because the car's brain has more freedom and control when equipped with an automatic gearbox. Engineering a manual car to work harmoniously with adaptive cruise control would be a nightmare, which is why the manual only gets basic cruise control. Upgrade to the automatic and you get adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic emergency braking, and reverse automatic braking. All models get a following distance indicator, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking at speeds below 50 mph, and forward collision warning.
The Blackwing comes standard with a ten-inch high-definition touchscreen interface with navigation, real-time traffic updates, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, HD Radio, SiriusXM with 360L, Bluetooth, and three USB ports. You can also create a Wi-Fi hotspot for the passengers to keep them busy on longer trips. The system is connected to an AKG 16-speaker premium sound system with a unique selling point. When using the navigation system, the directional prompts will come from the speaker located in the direction you need to turn. In other words, if you're turning right, the navigation will tell you so using the speakers located on the right side of the car. We're not quite sure whether this is a gimmick or not. We understand the difference between left and right perfectly fine, but we do know some adults that struggle with the concept. It's not annoying in any way, just an interesting tidbit of information.
This sound system is the only available option, but you can also opt for the $1,600 performance data and video recorder. It uses Cosworth Toolbox driving analysis software to record laps of a track. As the driver, you can select what data you want overlaid over the recording. You can add the timing, or simply record a clear video of a smooth run. It's the ultimate tool for those humblebrags on social media.
No recalls have yet affected the CT5-V Blackwing according to the NHTSA. The 2021 Cadillac CT5-V was recalled twice for issues including an airbag light that may not indicate a malfunction as well as roof rail side airbags that may not properly deploy. Hopefully, these issues will not affect the Blackwing. According to the J.D. Power Ownership Survey, owning a CT5 is a highly rewarding experience. The standard 2022 CT5 scored 85 out of a possible 100 points in a quality and reliability review, which is exceptional. That makes the Caddy more pleasing to own than competitors from Lexus and Acura.
Cadillac covers the CT5-V Blackwing with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty. As an added bonus, you also get a one-year/one-visit maintenance plan.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS provides a model-specific safety rating for the Blackwing, but there are scores available for the standard CT5. The NHTSA gave it an overall rating of five out of five stars, and it scored five stars in every sub category. Unfortunately, the IIHS has not had the opportunity to thoroughly review the CT5-V Blackwing.
The CT5-V Blackwing comes with a decent number of safety features as standard, whether you opt for the manual or automatic. It has traction, stability and chassis management, eight airbags including dual front knee airbags, powerful Brembo brakes with ABS, and a surround-view camera system including the obligatory rearview camera. Driver-assistance features include forward collision warning with automatic braking up to 50 mph, front and rear park assist, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic assist. The automatic gearbox allows for more autonomy, which means that adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic emergency braking, and reverse automatic braking are added by default. Automatic parking assistance is an option that's limited to the automatic model.
The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is an epic car. We've said before that it's a great time to be a gearhead, because manufacturers are basically building every model the engineers have been dreaming about for decades. You can now get a Wrangler with a Hemi V8 and a pickup truck with 700 hp. What a time to be alive. The Blackwing is part of this exclusive club of never-to-be-repeated models. We know Cadillac will be going the electric route, which makes sense given its luxury car roots. But not before it gave the world the last supercharged V8 saloon with a manual gearbox, which also happens to be the most powerful production car in its history. In addition to all of that, the Caddy is a great driver's car. The underpinnings are a massive accomplishment. We can only imagine how hard the team must have worked to make a 668-hp saloon feel both docile and agile. In many ways, this car is more of an engineering feat than the M5 and E63. It makes the Germans feel like they cheated, or rather chickened out.
The asking price might seem a bit steep compared to some rivals, but the Caddy comes equipped with almost everything you could possibly want as standard. There are a few bits we'd add, but nothing with a bonkers price tag. It's also worth remembering that the Cadillac sits in its own awkward little segment between the M3 and M5. While it may seem expensive compared to the M3, it's an absolute bargain compared to the latter. And let's not forget that an M3 costs around the same once you start adding goodies like the Competition Package. Without even trying too hard, we got an M3 up to $88,000 by simply adding a few things that are standard on the Caddy. The Blackwing is exceptional, and will go down as a highlight in Cadillac's ICE history.
The CT5-V Blackwing with a six-speed manual transmission has an MSRP of $83,995. If you want a ten-speed automatic, you'll have to fork over $87,170. These prices exclude the destination charge of $995.
When it comes to the CT5-V Blackwing, you only need to make one simple choice: manual or automatic. There are some differences between the two models, but nothing major. The manual shifter's placement allows for two cupholders, while the automatic model gains a rotary dial for the infotainment. You can also add more driver-assistance features to the automatic model. The rest is the same. Both models are powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 producing 668 hp and 659 lb-ft of torque. All of this power is sent to the rear wheels. To make it all work, the Blackwing has adaptive damping and adaptive traction and stability control.
Since the CT5 is still a luxury car at its core, you get a long list of standard features. These include LED headlights, keyless entry and start, a surround-view camera, wireless charging, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats, a configurable digital instrument cluster, a head-up display with a shift light, and a ten-inch infotainment screen with the latest connectivity features and a 16-speaker sound system.
In addition to the traditional safety features like ABS brakes and tire pressure monitoring, the CT5 also comes standard with forward collision warning with automatic braking up to 50 mph, front and rear park assist, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic assist. On the automatic model, adaptive cruise control, enhanced rear automatic braking, and reverse automatic braking are added by default.
There are two standalone options worth mentioning. You can pay either $2,890 or $6,090 for the high-performance front bucket seats. The price depends on what you want them wrapped in, with semi-aniline leather requiring a higher premium. We'd also include the $1,600 performance data and video recorder because who wouldn't want to share their epic laps on social media?
As for the packages, Cadillac charges a reasonable $900 for the Driver Assistance Package on the automatic model. Or at least, that's what it looks like when configuring your new Blackwing. In reality, this package is automatically added when you choose the automatic gearbox, so calling it an optional extra is a bit of a misnomer. It includes adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic emergency braking and reverse automatic braking. The $1,110 Parking Package includes a rear camera mirror, cabin air ionizer, hands-free decklid release, and an automatic parking assistant with braking.
The exterior options include the $4,100 Carbon Fiber 1 Package, which adds a carbon fiber front splitter, carbon fiber front wheel deflectors, and a carbon fiber extra aero spoiler. The $5,230 Carbon Fiber 2 Package adds a carbon fiber grille header, rocker mouldings and extensions, and rear valance diffuser. This package requires first adding the Carbon Fiber 1 Package. The carbon ceramic brake option costs a hefty $9,000.
To get an answer to this, you need to ask yourself two questions. Does daily comfort rank higher than the self-expression that comes with a manual gearbox, and am I a dedicated enough track day driver with enough skill to get the most out of the manual?
We'd have the manual in a heartbeat. The opportunity of having the last supercharged V8 sedan with a manual is too good to pass up on. We'd likely get annoyed with it at times, but sacrifices have to be made. Having said that, we can see a case for going the automatic route. The Cadillac is still a luxury car and an automatic suits it nicely. It's also easier to drive on track as it will do all the shifting on your behalf. You can use the paddles, but the gearbox is smart enough to do all of the grunt work.
We'd have ours in Electric Blue with the $2,890 high-performance seats in Jet Black. The Carbon Fiber 1 Package looks cool and is functional, so we'd have that as well. For an even more stylish exterior, we'd add 19-inch Satin Graphite dark finish alloys, and red brake calipers for some contrast. Finally, we'd go the whole nine yards and get the carbon ceramic brakes. We would use this car on track on a regular basis, so we see it as money well spent. In this build, which is a fully stocked performance car with carbon ceramic brakes, the total price of the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is $102,205 including destination charges.
It's true that you can have the new M3 sedan with a manual transmission for as little as $69,900, but it will be a stock standard car with 473 hp, which is a whole Golf GTI away from the Cadillac's 668-hp output. A more relevant comparison would be the M3 Competition, which has a starting price of $72,800. Even then, you're looking at 503 hp going up against 668 hp. The Bimmer is undoubtedly more scalpel-like in the way it handles, due to a lower curb weight. The M3 Competition is $14,370 less than the automatic Cadillac. That's a big chunk of money, but you get a lot more for your money at the price of the CT5-V Blackwing. Add all of the things you get as standard on the Cadillac, and the M3's price suddenly increases to around $85,000.
When you opt for the Cadillac, you get a larger car that's just as much fun on the road and track. The BMW is slightly more practical thanks to its bigger trunk, but you just can't argue with that supercharged V8. You pay a hefty penalty when it comes to fuel consumption, but it feels worth it. To us, the Cadillac also feels a bit more special. We know it will be the last of its kind, while the M3 is just, well, another M3.
The BMW M5 Competition is a sensational car, make no mistake. It's the daddy of the segment, and the default for a good reason. Still, the Cadillac makes a good case for itself. To compare these two cars, we used the $102,205 CT5-V Blackwing we designed using the configurator. We added high performance bucket seats, a carbon fiber design package, and carbon ceramic brakes. The BMW starts at $103,500 and if you add a comparable array of extras, the price exceeds $130,000. That's including the Competition Package, a few other luxuries, and carbon ceramic brakes. With the Comp Package, the BMW's power increases to 617 hp. Close, but no cigar. We know the BMW M5 is a better car. It's also larger and more practical, but the price gap can't be ignored. The M5 Competition is just such a complete package, however. Choosing between these two cars is extremely difficult. We've been thinking about it for a week, and we're still constantly going between the two. Gun to the head, though, we'd go with the Cadillac.
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