Get it while you can. This octane-fueled dream will soon be history.
When Cadillac began the journey twenty years ago that led to the V series and the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, a lot of people scratched their heads. Could the brand really make the transition to world-class racing engines with performance features to match? There was a lot of skepticism.
It was benchmarked against the top sports cars in the field, including the similarly sized, powered and engineered BMW M series and Mercedes AMG and was, and still is, lower priced for all that performance, making it quite the deal.
So we were really excited to drive these cars, built and tuned by top racing engineers, and we were impressed. When I test drove the second model year of the smaller V series sedan, the ATS-V, I was smiten. And thrilled.
From there, it’s only gotten better. The ATS-V was renamed CT4-V Blackwing and was given a sportier, more toned look, more features for track driving and an even more growly, gurgly engine sound. And its look is more elegant than muscular, despite its abundance of wings and spoilers—a modern version of the iconic Cadillac fins. The Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, which has a V6 twin turbo engine that produces 472 horsepower and 445 torque, has a starting price of about $58,000 (our test model came in at just over $77,000)
And it marks the swan song of the gas-powered V series.
Related: 2020 Cadillac CT4 Review: A Little Less Power, but a Little Less $$$ In this Elegant Luxury Sedan
The Last of Of An Era: An Investment as Much as a Purchase
This part makes me at once sad and excited: The lucky buyers of the CT4 V Blackwing will go home with a unicorn, one that will likely depreciate less than other cars and may even, in a few years and with low mileage, actually cost almost nothing to own.
In the time since I fell in love with the ATS-V I’ve thought about buying one; if it could be had at half it’s original $77K price tag, maybe I’d bite. But I consistently see them priced around $50K—only a 35% depreciation in 5 years. Sellers of these cars are probably upgrading to the CT4-V and giggling all the way to the track: They just bought an upgraded brand new version of the same car for essentially $27K. I can only expect that with the gas-powered V series being discontinued (for now, at least) that the CT4-V, especially in the manual edition, will become even more sought-after and sell for a premium on sites like Bring a Trailer or Cars and Bids.
How This Car Makes You Feel
And that’s because of this: This car makes you feel wonderful. It’s delightful and liberating behind the wheel; the sport seats in our test model were comfortable, with side bolsters to hold you firmly in your seat, but not so firm as to make getting in and out of the CT4-V Blackwing a challenge— and this is something that many sport seats can’t say.
Head out on the road and into traffic and it’s fine. Not overly loud or anxious, and comfortably plush to keep your senses feeling fine. But once traffic clears and you have the road to yourself, or as you merge onto the highway or round a curve, your senses heighten and your heart beats just a bit faster. Letting the CT4-V do its thing feels so good.
Put it in V mode and you’ll find yourself giggling as the speed and loft of the experience is accompanied by a soundtrack of a growling engine and gurgling feedback when you let off the accelerator.
Related: Step on the Accelerator and Free Your Soul: How an All Girls Driving School with Cadillac V-Performance Academy Changed Me Forever
In the manual version, the clutch feel is firm— not too soft and springy but not overly stiff (and it’s a no-lift clutch, meaning you don’t need to lift your foot off it as you shift, something I just can’t get used to). The gearshift is positioned at a really nice level right in the center of the car; it’s a natural reach with your elbow on the arm rest. And this is good because you won’t want to take your hand off the shifter. Not only does it feel good in your hand, but it’s topped with a textured metal shift pattern that’s elegant and looks great. It’s like holding a piece of jewelry in your hand. Both the clutch and gear shifter take some getting used to, though. The clutch allows you to let it out quite a bit before it engages; the gears are not all that far apart so it’s easy to pop it into third thinking you’re in first. Luckily there is a gear indicator on the driver’s information screen so you can see the gear you’re in until you develop muscle memory.
Which you no doubt will, because you’ll want to be behind the wheel of this car a lot. The full effect of the drive experience is that you feel part of the machine, which is really special when it’s a machine as nice as this.
Who This Car is For
The CT4 V Blackwing isn’t for everyone. For those who want Cadillac luxury and a lovely, but not track-worthy experience, the CT4 is a really good car. But those who live for the satisfaction of a great driving experience will appreciate it. It’s also ideal for:
- Drivers who love a thrilling drive
- Buyers who want a performance car at a very competitive price
- Drivers whose hobbies include track driving, or who want to learn track driving
- Drivers who have an exciting daily commute and want a car to match it
- Couples or small families; this is a 4 door, 5 passenger sedan!
Track Born Details Give it True Spirit
That our test model had a manual transmission gets a huge YAY from me. I’m a fan of manuals, and it’s interesting that these days these are no longer found on the base model simply because it’s lowest price option. Instead, they are a perk for drivers who value the physical experience of being part of the machine.
But drivers who really intend to take the CT4 V to the track will most likely chose the automatic transmission with paddle shifters, which were developed by racing engineers to improve performance by reducing the time it takes to shift gears.
To add to this, Cadillac enhanced the drive mode experience with V mode, selected by tapping a button on the steering wheel or toggling through the drive mode selector. There you’ll find tour, snow/ice, sport, individual or V mode and each mode is customizable for the amount of performance or comfort you want for each factor: steering, suspension, transmission, braking, engine sound and traction. on the command center console.
Performance … Traction? Yes It’s a Thing
And, they’ve added performance traction management, or PTM, which can be selected with the V-shaped dial on the lower right side of the steering wheel. This less common performance setting allows you to choose the type of traction you want: dry, wet, race 1 or race 2 (you can also turn this feature off for normal traction performance). These settings manage not just traction, but also braking and the shift of power to the wheels to give you the best ability to stick to the curves, burn rubber or to drift through a turn (on the track of course).
To enhance the track experience, there is also launch control: This is a drag-strip feature that allows you to lock the brakes either for 15 seconds or until, while holding the accelerator down, the car reaches an ideal engine speed, then the car launches forward until you brake. Again, this is for closed roads and drag strips, and there it can be insanely fun.
I really loved the V mode and PTM selectors on the steering wheel; they let you never forget what this car can do and it’s nice to have those functions at your fingertips. Both functions can be accessed through the mode selector on the center console near the gear shift. However, the drive mode button operates both functions; you can tap the drive mode button and get PTM when you want to select a drive mode and vice versa. I found it confusing and mostly went to the steering wheel buttons to change the settings.
What This Car Costs
The CT4 V pairs a V6 twin turbo engine that generates 472 horsepower and 445 torque with rear wheel drive and all the basics to make your drive fun, including:
- Enhanced performance due to adaptive suspension, magnetic ride control, Brembo brakes, front and rear spoilers and summer tires
- A full technology suite including head up display, Cadillac User Experience multimedia system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and AKG premium sound and a wireless phone charging pad
- Keyless entry, heated steering wheel and heated front seats, power-adjusted steering wheel and column
- A full suite of automatic driver assist and safety features including auto emergency braking, pedestrian alert, front and rear park assist, lane keep asset with lane departure warning and lane change alert with blind spot alert; the base price is $58,995
Our model came equipped with a number of options, including:
- Tan and black leather seats, leather surface trim and microfiber details, $4,900
- Carbon fiber details inside and out, including the front and rear spoilers, $7,000
- Performance video and data recorder, $1,600
- Sunroof, $1,050
- Technology package including enhanced head up display
- Upgraded 18” wheels, $600
- Climate package with heated and cooled front massaging seats, $600
- If you must, you can add automatic transmission for $3,125
- Destination charge, $995
Price of our test model, $77,090
Good-Bye for Now, Sweet Friend
I’m really glad I got to drive the CT4 V before it’s gone, especially in the manual transmission version (I do wish I’d been able to take it on a track, though). I know I’ll love the electric V series models when they materialize in the not too distant future. I expect they’ll have the same elegant proportions of the CT4 V, though probably even more aerodynamics, as electric cars tend to have. They’ll likely have the same beautiful leather interior, though I would have chosen white, or black and white, rather than the black and tan of our test model. And they’ll probably have even more track worthy functions and details as Cadillac’s engineers discover new things to make us giggle. And thrilled. And smitten.
Disclosure: Cadillac provided the CT4 V for this test drive but all opinions are my own.