It's talking to you, Audi S3.
The death of the Cadillac ATS-V sedan and coupe could have been a way out of supposedly dying segments for the American luxury brand. But no, Cadillac has made the strategic decision to stick with one of those body styles, the sedan. The performance coupe, at least for Cadillac, is a goner. So it goes. But the sedan lives and it's worth celebrating. The all-new 2020 Cadillac CT4-V does not exactly pick up where the ATS-V sedan left off. For starters, it's smaller inside and out, and less powerful. There's also the matter of the also all-new CT5-V performance sports sedan.
Basically, Cadillac split the ATS into two new models, one compact the other midsize. The CT4-V, like the regular CT4, is the former. When the CT4-V goes on sale in the very near future, it'll face some tough competition from German rivals, such as the Audi S3. Is it up to the task? On paper, at least, it has a lot going for it.
If it wasn't obvious before, the 2020 CT4-V is proof that Cadillac is done with its old man car image. Largely identical to the regular CT4, the CT4-V features a few noticeable styling differences, among them standard 18-inch wheels wearing summer-only performance tires. The wheels feature an exclusive performance design not available on other CT4 trims. There are also dark exterior accents, rocker extensions, the familiar V-series mesh grille and V badges throughout, and quad exhaust tips. The unique rear spoiler is actually functional and not just for show because it was designed to reduce rear lift while increasing grip for the rear tires.
Riding on an updated version of General Motors' rear-wheel-drive Alpha platform – the very same architecture which underpins the current sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro – the CT4-V boasts a sleek profile and long dash-to-front-axle proportions only found on RWD vehicles. This also allows for a shorter front overhang. Like all CT4 trims, the CT4-V comes standard with LED headlamps, taillights, and those cool vertical lights located at all four corners.
Cadillac describes the cabin as "driver-centric" and it's clear this was the design goal from the get-go. With brands like Audi and BMW in mind, Cadillac went with a simple, yet dynamic dashboard layout that features a high-definition, 8-inch diagonal touchscreen. This will house all infotainment and connectivity systems and was rightly mounted in the center of the instrument panel for easy driver and front passenger access.
To further separate the CT4-V from the rest of the CT4 pack, Cadillac equipped it with its own unique steering wheel with a performance mode button. At each side of the wheel are Magnesium paddle shifters. There's also LED interior lighting, a performance theme dual-display driver information center cluster, Bose premium surround-sound audio system, wireless charging, aluminum trim, and premium front floor mats with the V logo. Leather seating is standard as are alloy pedals.
Under the hood lies a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder rated at 325 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent to either the rear or all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Cadillac specifically points out the CT4-V features a perfect 50/50 weight distribution, a limited-slip differential, and Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers, though for RWD models only. All of this greatly improves overall balance and handling. Brembo brakes are located at the front wheels to improve stopping power.
And then there's Cadillac's Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving technology. It is optional in the CT4-V and allows drivers a hands-free experience. However, it can only be used on certain sections of the more than 200,000 miles of compatible highways in the US and Canada. These highways are unique in that they work directly with Super Cruise's LiDAR map data, high-precision GPS via a network of camera and radar sensors. Cadillac points out Super Cruise won't be available to order until sometime in 2020.
Cadillac has not released official pricing as of this writing, but we expect the CT4-V to be priced competitively against the likes of the Audi S3 ($43,000) and Mercedes-AMG A35, whose pricing has also not been revealed. BMW will enter this compact performance sedan segment by way of its first-ever 2 Series Gran Coupe. Though it's based on a front-wheel-drive platform – just like the Mercedes – it will come standard with an advanced AWD system for superior performance.
But the ultimate question remains: is America even interested in a compact sports luxury sedan? The German automakers believe so, but Cadillac has a more difficult fight ahead with the CT4-V. While the German marques have well-established reputations and customers, Cadillac is still trying to secure its own identity. The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V is a solid step in the right direction.