High-flying Blackwings are most capable Cadillacs yet

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Cadillac’s gas-fired, high-performance track monsters are going out in style.

General Motors Co.'s luxury brand on Monday unveiled the 2022 CT4 and CT5 V-Series Blackwing models, the most powerful lineup of Cadillac performance sedans ever offered with 472 and 668 horsepower respectively. The pair are the last V-Series models offered with gas-engines as the brand transitions to all-electric vehicles.

The Blackwing cars are an evolution from previous ATS-V and CTS-V performance sedans, carrying enhanced versions of the familiar twin-turbo, 3.6-liter V-6 and supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 from their predecessors. But with a significantly reduced price from the ATS-V, the $59,990 CT4 Blackwing will be competitive with both subcompact and compact performance offerings from rival European automakers.

The CT4 Blackwing, for example, matches the price of the subcompact BMW M2 coupe while offering two more doors and nearly 70 more horsepower. For $11K less than the compact, $70,895 M3 sedan, the CT4 Blackwing offers comparable horsepower and a quicker, 3.8-second run from 0-60 mph. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is still king of the compact hill with 505 horses.

The ferocious, $84,990 CT5 Blackwing, squeezing another 28 horsepower from the outgoing CTS-V’s 640-horse mill, is the most powerful Caddy ever and takes aim at higher-priced, six-figure performance models like the $103,000 BMW M5 and $114,000 Audi RS7. The CT5 adds to its value equation by dropping 5 grand off its sticker price compared to the previous gen CTS-V. It will hit 60 in just 3.7 seconds.

“V-Series Blackwing stands for the very highest level of execution and offers a distinctly American vision of performance: incredible power and luxurious craftsmanship, with absolutely zero compromise between the two,” said Cadillac Chief Engineer Brandon Vivian. “We looked to our championship-winning racing heritage to create two cars that elevate the renowned V-Series experience.”

Cadillac CT4 V-Series Blackwing rear features quad pipes and diffuser for downforce.

In keeping with that racing heritage, the two cars underwent extensive track testing and were teased in a TV commercial Saturday night during the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona where one of Cadillac's four Dpi.VR prototype entries finished second overall. The Blackwings learned from Cadillac’s successful racing program.

“Behind the scenes we try to take the lessons we learn on the race track and tie that back into production,” GM Sports Car Racing boss Laura Klauser said in an interview. “The CT5 and CT4 took all the learnings from DPi program and brought that into production (like how) to more efficiently bring air over the car which helps stability and fuel efficiency.”

Quad pipes and defuser distinguish the rear end of the Cadillac CT5 V-Series Blackwing.

Yet, the CT4 and CT5 Blackwing cars also mark the end of an era of development as Cadillac moves away from gasoline power.

That status is likely to make these Blackwings attractive to the collector community as the pinnacle of Cadillac combustion engine performance. Rory Harvey, vice president for Global Cadillac, said in an interview that the performance commitment “will remain no matter the propulsion system.”

The Blackwings are built on the same platform as the CT4 and CT5 sedans that redefined Cadillac’s sedan lineup. The 2020 CT4 replaced the ATS — but dropped to the subcompact segment where its size and power are more competitive against the BMW 2-series and Audi A3. Similarly, the CT5 replaced the mid-sized CTS and is now aimed at the compact segment where, for example, it boasts class-leading rear legroom.

To telegraph their driver-centric nature, both rear-wheel-drive Blackwing models will come standard with a six-speed manual transmissions — though an optional 10-speed automatic will produce quicker lap times courtesy of advances like “No-Lift Shift” which enables race car-like gear swaps without letting off the gas pedal.

The Cadillac CT4 V-Series Blackwing comes in manual or auto transmission.

The CT4 V-Series Blackwing, boasting 445 pound-feet of torque to go with its 472 horses, will offer optional goodies such as an enhanced aerodynamics package with bigger rear wing and front spoiler to enhance its already nimble, track-carving capabilities. It offers (together with CT5 Blackwing) a standard, electronic limited-slip rear differential.

The 659-torque, 6.2-liter CT5 Blackwing will offer exotic add-ons like carbon-fiber seats and carbon ceramic brakes (at 15.7 inches, the largest ever offered on a production Caddy) to help bring the 200-mph-plus missile back to earth.

The CT4 Blackwing will hit a mere 189 mph.

Cadillac CT4 V-Series Blackwing needs lots of air to feed the twin-turbo V-6 beast behind.

With black grilles, the front ends of the Blackwing cars bristle with menace. Air intakes are everywhere to feed the internal-combustion beasts within. Both cars are strapped down with extra body braces and visually distinguished by side air vents to speed air through the fender wells. Out back, quad tailpipes and diffusers lurk below the V-Series logo-encrusted trunk.

Inside, the cars have full digital instrument displays with TOUR/SPORT/TRACK driving modes. A configurable V-mode — similar to that found on the mid-engine Chevy Corvette — can optimize the cars’ state-of-the-art, magnetic-ride-control shocks for track conditions. It’s accessed via a prominent button on the steering wheel. For optimal 0-60 sprints, launch control is available.

The Blackwing name is not to be confused with the twin-turbo, 550-horse, 4.2-liter  Blackwing V-8 that only inhabited the now discontinued Cadillac CT6-V. The CT4’s V-6 and CT5’s supercharged V-8 are made in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The Blackwings go on sale this summer and are available for pre-order.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.