Cadillac's last generation of V cars was something special; the ATS-V and CTS-V were machines that, while lacking in polish, were dynamically talented enough to go toe to toe with the best on offer from BMW M and Mercedes-AMG. Even their base derivatives were something special to drive, which is where the current generation of CT4, CT5, and CT6 models have somewhat fallen flat. Enter the CT5-V, Cadillac's high-powered entrant into the realm of sports sedans, but one that doesn't compete with an M3, but rather the Audi S4, Mercedes-AMG C43, and BMW M340i, despite being slightly larger than all of them. Big size, big power, right? Unfortunately, no, as the CT5-V wades into battle with a 360-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. It's also dynamically softer than rivals, doing a disservice to the hardcore V-suffixed cars of old. Does it mean that Cadillac enters the gunfight wielding a pocket knife or are we just judging it under false pretenses? Put aside all you know of the Cadillac Vs of old - and understand the new CT5 pecking order with the Blackwing as the performance flagship - and suddenly, the CT5-V is something special...
This year, Cadillac is making its semi-autonomous Super Cruise driver-assistance technology available on the CT5-V as part of either one of two new equipment packages - called Super Cruise 1 and Super Cruise 2 - that bundles it together with other luxury features for either $3,600 or $4,600. Even if you don't opt for Super Cruise, several other driver-assistance features are standard from this year, notably adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, reverse automatic braking, lane-keep assist, and automatic high beams. Blaze Orange Metallic has been added as a new paint color for 2022. Last of all, the CT5-V has now lost its physical volume and tuning buttons that used to sit below the infotainment screen. Now, all functions must be performed via the touchscreen. Last year's optional 15-speaker Bose audio system is fitted as standard this year.
Pricing for the 'V-Series' - as Cadillac terms the CT5-V - starts at $50,095 before options and a $1,195 destination charge. That's for the rear-wheel-drive model, while adding all-wheel-drive sees the price climb to an MSRP of $52,670. Comparably, the BMW M340i starts off at $54,700.
See trim levels and configurations:
3.0L Turbo V6 Gas
The chassis tuning of the CT5-V is where the bulk of the upgrade associated with the V suffix has gone to - an area where we felt base CT5s left much to be desired. Old V-cars, and rivals in the form of the Audi S4 and Mercedes-AMG C43, tended to be a little too harsh for daily use - something you can forgive when you're dealing with 500 hp under your right foot, but not so easy to accept when you need to daily the thing. This time out, Cadillac has gone soft, but they've done it in a phenomenal way.
The pliancy of the suspension soaks up the imperfections you'll encounter on a backroad blast, but without compromising on high levels of grip and engagement. The former trait has lots to do with both the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires and the limited-slip differential equipped to the CT5-V, endowing it with high levels of mechanical grip and the ability to jump on the gas on corner exit without setting a one-tire-fire and slowing progress. Engagement comes down to how the chassis feels, with minimal flex, a hint of progressive, readable body roll, and steering that, while not dripping with feedback, gives one a good sense of the front end's limits. AWD models feel a little more understeery at the limit, and the front end has decidedly less feedback, but they're by no means bad handlers.
The CT5-V might not have the firepower of the old ATS-V or the Blackwing flagship, but the folks in Cadillac's engineering department haven't forgotten how to engineer a great chassis.
When we first caught wind of the CT5-V's intended existence, we had high hopes for an M3-fighter that would pick up where the ATS-V left off, combining the existing endearing chassis with more space, greater levels of quality, and perhaps even a more potent engine. So you could say we were a little disappointed when it debuted with only 360 hp and no manual gearbox. But that's because Cadillac has changed how they position the V brand; it's no longer a top-of-the-range performance badge; the Blackwing is. Viewed in this light, the CT5-V is a stellar performer, and while we might lament the lack of trunk space and the poor choices with regards to interior materials, Cadillac has ensured the basics are done right. There's more than ample performance from the twin-turbo V6 engine, and the chassis is a true work of automotive art. That's where the bulk of the development went and it shows, with lithe dynamics paired to supple suspension. We're not saying it's better than an Audi S4 or a BMW M340i, but it's at least worth a look this time.
The CT5-V is available as a standalone trim, but there's a number of ways to customize it. First, we'd opt for the RWD car in the sleeper-car shade of Shadow Metallic, then equip genuine leather seating, a Bose 15-speaker sound system, the Lighting Package, the Super Cruise 2 package, a head-up display, and the Climate Package for an all-inclusive price of around $62,500. Leave it resting on black 19-inch alloy wheels.
With the CT5-V growing bigger than the ATS-V, there's space in the range for something smaller. That's the CT4-V, which takes on the role of the junior performance sedan in Cadillac's lineup. Powered by a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the CT4-V is less powerful with only 325 hp on call to the CT5-V's 360. But it's smaller and lighter, and feels more nimble through the corners, while making use of the same magnetic ride system as the CT5-V to maintain comfort. But it's smaller inside, with less rear passenger room and only 10.7 cubic feet of trunk space (11.9 in the CT5-V). While there are a number of similarities in the way they're equipped, if you need rear-seat space and a little more junk in the trunk, the CT5-V is the more practical option. It's only a couple of grand more expensive than the CT4-V, too, but the extra performance, space, and the V6 engine are well worth the premium.
If you're going to build a performance sedan, the 3 Series is your benchmark every time. The similarities between the CT5-V and the M340i are striking, with both offering turbocharged six-cylinder engines, both allowing you to choose between rear- or all-wheel-drive, and both supplying automatic gearboxes. But the 3.0-liter straight-six in the Bimmer develops more power at 382 hp, and puts the power down better, too, partially thanks to a sharper eight-speed automatic gearbox. Not only is the BMW the better performer, but it drinks less at the pumps. Inside, both are similar, packing similar tech and negligible differences in terms of space, although the 3 Series has a bigger, 13-cubic-feet trunk. Both ride fluently and handle sublimely, and at the end of the day, the battle has never been closer. The Cadillac is a few thousand dollars cheaper, but the materials feel it, and we feel the extra cash is money well spent on the M340i.