The CT5 isn't what you think.
The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing just made its long-awaited debut, and after a two-year gap since the last CTS-V, many enthusiasts are wrongly comparing this new model to the 2021 BMW M5. While the outgoing CTS competed against the 5 Series, Cadillac positioned its new CT5 sedan as a roomier rival to the 3 Series. So, while the standard CT5-V competes against the M340i, the Blackwing model squares up to the new 2021 BMW M3.
After two generations of the CTS-V rivaling the M5, it may seem strange for the CT5-V Blackwing to now rival the smaller M3. But enthusiasts who recall Cadillac's history may remember that the original first-generation CTS-V directly competed against the E46 M3 in the mid-2000s. With a brand-new V model and a redesigned M3 arriving in 2021, this turn-of-the-century rivalry has been reignited.
BMW and Cadillac took vastly different approaches when turning their luxury sport sedans into aggressive track weapons. Ever since the M3 and its two-door M4 sibling debuted, no one can stop talking about its massive kidney grille. There's a chance that we could all learn to love the M3's gapping schnoz, but most will agree that the Caddy is the better-looking vehicle.
In its transformation to become a Blackwing model, Cadillac almost played it too conservative with the styling. Past V cars were known for their mafia hitman levels of lunacy, but the CT5-V Blackwing is an understated sleeper car. Aside from some subtle bodywork changes, the Blackwing could be mistaken for the standard CT5-V. We'll take subtle and elegant over absurdly polarizing.
After introducing M models of basically every model in the lineup, BMW had a repeatable formula to create the M3's interior. Take a base 3 Series, then throw in some nicer seats, a sportier steering wheel, a new shift lever, and some other performance accents. Drivers who want the sportiest experience will want to opt for the M carbon bucket seats, which are available for $3,800.
Having taken a short break since the ATS-V and CTS-V, Cadillac hasn't shown any signs of rust when crafting a performance-oriented interior that's also luxurious. Like the M3, the CT5-V Blackwing is available with racing seats utilizing premium leather and carbon-fiber backing. The Blackwing also gets a unique high-performance steering wheel with a V button that will place the car into a pre-configured drive mode.
Manual transmissions are a dying breed, but BMW and Cadillac are committed to keeping them alive for as long as possible. BMW decided to make the base M3 manual-only, so buyers who want the eight-speed automatic transmission must opt for the more powerful M3 Competition model, sending power to an xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
Cadillac is slightly different, offering a new six-speed Tremec manual as the standard transmission option or an optional 10-speed automatic. Buyers who opt for the manual will receive a 3D-printed shifter medallion mounted on the gear lever, and the first 500 manual owners will also get a unique serialized plaque.
BMW offers the M3 in two performance outputs, while Cadillac only sells the CT5-V Blackwing in one configuration. The M3 produces 473 horsepower in its base guise, sending power to the rear wheels only through a six-speed manual transmission. In Competition guise, the M3's 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six is dialed up to 503 hp going out to AWD through an eight-speed automatic. With the additional power and front-driven wheels, the M3 Competition takes 3.8 seconds to hit 60 mph compared to 4.1 seconds in the base car.
Cadillac blows BMW away on power with 668 hp coming from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8. Since the power only goes out to the rear, though, the 0-60 mph time isn't much quicker at 3.7 seconds. The CT5-V Blackwing is much faster, topping out at 200 mph versus 155 mph in the M3 (180 mph with the M Driver's Package).
The CT5-V Blackwing actually produces more power than the M5 CS (627 hp), the most powerful variant of the M5. Perhaps this is why many enthusiasts see the Caddy as an M5 rival more than an M3 competitor. But since the M5 CS has AWD, it hits 60 mph much quicker in only 2.9 seconds.
Comparing the CT5-V Blackwing to a BMW is not the simplest task. With a 116-inch wheelbase, the CT5 sits only one inch shorter wheel-to-wheel compared to the BMW 5 Series and a whopping four inches longer than a 3 Series. In terms of overall length, the CT5 stretches 193.8 inches, which is significantly longer than the 3 Series (185.7 inches) but not quite as expansive as the 5 Series (195.8 inches).
The CT5-V Blackwing slots into a grey area between the M3 and M5 where BMW doesn't offer a similarly-sized vehicle. This gives the CT5 superior rear legroom (37.9 inches) versus the 3 Series (35.2 inches). In fact, the CT5 has more rear leg space than the 5 Series (36.5 inches) as well.
Like with its exterior and interior measurements, the 2022 CT5-V Blackwing falls into a middle ground between an M3 and an M5. The base M3 starts at $69,900, while the M3 Competition costs $72,800. The Cadillac is significantly more expensive, starting at $84,990, but there will be plenty of overlap after factoring in BMW's pricey options.
Meanwhile, the M5 exists in a different stratosphere with a $103,500 base price. The M5 CS costs a whopping $142,000, much more than even a fully-loaded CT5-V Blackwing. Just as it did with the original CTS-V, Cadillac wants to give buyers M5 performance and practicality for M3 money, with an American V8 flavor.