Auto review: Last of the breed, best of the breed. Cadillac CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwings can absolutely fly

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Business News

WAMPUM, Pennsylvania — The trouble with straightaways is they have to end.

With 668 horses howling in my ears, I bang the gearshift into fourth through the kink on Pittsburgh International Race Complex's back straight and the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine in the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing wants to take me to the moon.

The sound is heavenly. Violent. Addicting. My brain wants more. My right foot flattens the throttle, but as the digital instrument display gallops past 135 mph, a first-gear hairpin looms. Sigh. Huge 15.7-inch brakes haul my Electric Blue missile back to earth for the right-hander ahead.

For the last 20 years, General Motors' luxury brand took a detour from a century as America's premier land yacht-maker to become the sculptor of Detroit's best track athletes.

Ditching Brougham elephant for CTS greyhound, Caddy benchmarked to Germany's BMW, Mercedes and Audi in an attempt to climb the international podium as world's best luxury performance brand. Engineers traveled to the Nürburgring, the world's premier test track. Drivers competed in the world's most challenging race series.

The results are the Blackwing siblings: CT4-V and CT5-V. They are the best performance vehicles ever developed by Cadillac — and the last gas-powered hot rods before the brand transitions to electric power.


Like other performance-oriented badges, the demands of making sedans this good trickle down to make the whole model line better. Just as development for the Porsche 911 GT3 track weapon assures the standard 911 is the world's best sports car. Or the Honda Civic Type R promises the standard Civic is a superior compact sedan. So do the Blackwings make the base CT4 and CT5 exceptional cars.

I still remember my first test of the CT4 (then called the ATS — luxury brand alphanumerics can make your brain hurt) in 2015. It was magical. It was one of the best-handling compact sedans I'd driven. I would get in ATSs just to drive them — no destination required.

When the ATS-V performance model debuted, it went toe-to-toe with the BMW M3 and Giulia Quadrifoglio for the world's best four-door filly. (Caddy even loaned its Alpha chassis to Chevy so Camaro's team could make it the best-handling muscle car in class.)

The '22 CT4-V Blackwing model updates the ATS-V and improves the formula for the new badging. Like thoroughbreds from Porsche to Dodge to Honda, you have to track it to appreciate its enormous bandwidth. Over PIR's undulating 2.8-mile course, the neutral, rear-wheel-drive beast switched directions nimbly. Credit better Michelin tires, magnetic shocks and chassis stiffening for making this scalpel even sharper.


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