The real kicker is that these are just the “entry level” performance models.
When the Cadillac CT6-V hit the stage with its turbocharged 4.2-liter Blackwing V8, it seemed like it was GM's way of celebrating Cadillac's largest sedan before it gets discontinued towards the end of the year. But there's a huge hole in that logic. After all, why spend so much time and money developing the Blackwing V8 for a highly-limited CT6, which was going to be discontinued soon anyway?
The Cadillac CT5-V and CT4-V are the two reasons why. Cadillac has just taken the wraps off both cars, but one thing seems to be missing: that Blackwing V8. In what appears to be yet another shift in naming convention by Cadillac, both the new CT5-V and CT4-V make do with moderately-powered engines that make them more like mid-range V-Sport models, despite both cars carrying the full-fledged "V" moniker that once bestowed monsters like the 640 horsepower CTS-V.
Let's start with the main difference between the CT5-V and CT4-V: the engine. Instead of the Blackwing V8, the CT5-V boasts a high-output 3.0-liter twin turbo V6 engine that makes 355 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, which is sent to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive comes standard and those models receive a set of 19-inch wheels wrapped in performance summer tires, while the available all-wheel drive CT5-V gets available all-season tires.
Regardless of the drive wheels, the rear axle gets an electronic limited-slip differential to squeeze maximum performance out of the CT5 while a V-Series performance chassis with Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 and Performance Traction Management help a driver get the most out of a track day.
On the other hand, the CT4-V gets a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 320 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, which is also routed to either the rear wheels or all four wheels through a ten-speed automatic transmission. Rather than an electronic rear differential, the CT4-V is stuck with a conventional limited-slip diff. While the V-Series performance chassis with Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 is available for the CT4-V, it can only be had on the rear-wheel drive model. All-wheel drive models instead make do with ZF MVS passive dampers.
Like the CT5-V, the CT4-V comes with standard summer tires on RWD models while AWD models get available all-season rubber. Unlike the CT5-V, the CT4-V has to settle for 18-inch wheels. The CT4-V also boasts a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution, ensuring it feels balanced and handles well in the corners when taking on the competition.
So those are the differences, but the similarities are aplenty. Both the CT5-V and CT4-V are built on GM's Alpha platform, get a set of Brembo brakes on their front wheels (no mention about what brakes help slow the rear end) with an eBoost electronic assist, Vehicle Control Mode with a customizable V-Mode, a unique performance instrument cluster, V-Mode steering wheel control, the option to add Cadillac's SuperCruise driver aid, and exterior upgrades like dark accents and V-Series mesh grilles that, along with quad exhaust tips, help both cars look aggressive. The CT4-V one-ups the CT5-V's exterior with a unique rear spoiler design that helps reduce rear lift while increasing grip for the rear tires, while the CT5-V gets a unique rear diffuser.
While we already knew Cadillac was going to bring both cars the market, with the CT4-V aimed at competitors like the Audi S3 and Mercedes-AMG A 35 and the CT5-V replacing the CTS and bringing the fight to the Audi S4 and Mercedes-AMG C43, we're slightly confused by Cadillac's strategy and naming convention. For one, both cars are only separated by 35 horsepower and wear full-fledged V badges, despite the fact they are mid-range performance models, unlike the old CTS-V and ATS-V. The CT5-V even has less power than the 420-hp CTS V-Sport.
Cadillac did, however, mention that it would announce more V-Series variants later on, with the Blackwing V8 likely making its subsequent appearance at that point. What we don't know is what Cadillac will name the more hardcore versions of the CT5 and CT4. More CT4 models will also be announced, including Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport models. But if the CT5-V or CT4-V do it for you, then wait around until early in 2020 when they hit dealerships, with pricing information being released a little before then.