Cadillac CT4‑V Blackwing 2023 review – V6 supersaloon eyes BMW M3
We’ve raved about its CT5-V big brother; can the M3-rivalling CT4‑V work the same magic?
In this magazine’s quarter of a century we haven’t been much troubled by Cadillac. There has been the odd foray into Europe and the UK, but mostly these experiments have been short-lived and doomed to failure. Cadillac seems somehow the most American of all brands. Which is our slightly snotty Western European way of saying… pretty crappy. ‘Luxury’ served up with cheap materials, dynamics tuned for roads very different from our own, and a sort of faded, brittle feel of a marque struggling to reanimate former glories for modern times.
However, what do we know? What does anyone know in these uncertain days? New brands pop up every five minutes, new technology sweeps in to decimate much of what we hold dear, but then the promise of efuels and flexible solutions provide a glimpse of a bright future. And Cadillac? Even before these tumultuous times it had been quietly upping its game and focusing on dynamics in an impressively detailed way. This CT4‑V Blackwing (along with its big brother, the CT5-V Blackwing, evo 293) was launched in late 2021 and we probably shouldn’t have ignored it up to now. Think of it as a leftfield M3 rival with a very shiny new halo provided by the magnificent V-Series.R prototype racer that competes in WEC and IMSA and scoring a podium at the centenary of Le Mans earlier this year.
The CT4‑V is a shade smaller than a current M3 and, at 1751kg, it’s a little lighter, too. It’s suspended by struts up front and a multi-link rear axle with hollow anti-roll bars and Magnetic Ride Control. Drive is through a six-speed manual gearbox or optional ten-speed automatic, plus there’s an e-differential, all manner of assistance options thanks to Performance Traction Management, and a highly sophisticated launch control that allows the driver to tailor the revs in 100rpm increments between 2400 and 4000rpm.
What it doesn’t have is the CT5-V Blackwing’s magnificent 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine. Instead, there’s a direct-injection 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged V6 delivering 472bhp at 5750rpm and 445lb ft at 3500-5000rpm. It’s not quite the V8 supersaloon dream, then. But a top speed of 189mph and 0-60mph in 4.1sec is plenty of performance. More impressive still is Cadillac’s insistence that the Blackwing is developed with hard track use in mind – hence the cooler for the rear diff and serious-looking Brembo six-piston calipers on the front and four-pots on the rear.
I love their confidence that this thing is track-ready as it makes assessing the car very simple. All that really matters is whether it’s better than the BMW M3. Should the answer be yes, it would be a hell of an achievement. More so when you consider that, at $62,390 in its home market, it undercuts the base BMW M3 by around $14,000 and the Competition model we get here in the UK by $18,000.
First impressions are of a car from a generation or two back. It looks sharp, neat, avoiding the overt aggression of the M3 and instead letting the hardware do the talking. The stance, the chunky sidewall of the 275/35 ZR18 rear tyres and the 380mm brake discs glinting through the spokes of the front wheels carry a strong message to those who know. Carbonfibre dive planes and the substantial flick of the rear wing underline the promise. Inside there’s a slight throwback feel, too, and I mean that as a positive. The steering wheel is actually circular, there’s an adequate but not dominating touchscreen, and the simple gearlever with its leather gaiter is timeless and, well, heartening.
Operating the Blackwing is as intuitive as you’d hope. It feels relatively compact, the gearbox has a short throw and solid weighting – heavier than, say, a new BMW’s but not stiff or overly physical – and the ride has a really classy flow. It eases away imperfections but there’s a strong underlying sense of control. Brake feel is terrific, too. There’s instant bite and somehow the pedal conveys endurance even before you start working the system hard. Only the electric power steering disappoints. It’s a few ticks too light and there’s very little texture rumbling back through the rim. On this front, the M3 scores a decisive win.
After the incredible response, reach and soundtrack of the CT5-V Blackwing, it’s impossible not to identify the 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged V6 as another mild disappointment. The car is undoubtedly very fast, it makes a decent noise and throttle response is very good. However, it just doesn’t bring the whole experience to life as the V8 does in the bigger CT5 model, nor does it have the rampant, rev-hungry delivery that so characterises the BMW M3. The fact that the limiter arrives at 6500rpm only reiterates what you’re feeling… that this is an effective rather than inspiring engine.
Luckily, there’s so much else to enjoy here. The various modes – Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport, Track, the customisable My Mode, plus V mode – really make a marked difference to the behaviour of the car. As advertised, the suspension in Track mode really does feel like a circuit setting. It’s too stiff up in the hills around LA, but backing them off one notch really helps. You can also tweak steering weight, brake feel, engine sound and throttle response, and that’s before you delve into the PTM system for traction and stability settings.
Perhaps more important is that the Blackwing has an inherent balance and progressiveness that shines through whatever mode you’re in. This is a car that loves to turn, never seems to run out of front grip and puts it power down extremely well. Add powerful, feelsome brakes, a sweet manual gearbox and a differential that acts swiftly and gives plenty of options, and the end result is a straightforward, highly enjoyable car that you can push really hard with no fear of a sudden snap of oversteer. It doesn’t quite have the sharpness of the M3 Comp, nor the sheer drama of its bigger brother, but it’s a proper evo car.
Cadillac CT4‑V Blackwing specs
|V6, 3564cc, twin-turbo
|472bhp @ 5750rpm
|445lb ft @ 3500-5000rpm
This story was first featured in evo issue 315.