From the November 2021 issue of Car and Driver.
Stand around our cluttered, oil-soaked office garage and the conversation will eventually turn to tales of BMW’s E90 M3. Sold from 2008 to 2012, the M car’s legend continues to grow because subsequent M3s couldn’t quite re-create the E90’s magic blend of size, power, handling, and feel. In a turn of events unthinkable 20 years ago, Cadillac took up the mantle with the ATS-V and now the CT4-V Blackwing.
The smaller of the two Blackwings, the CT4-V drives, handles, and performs as if Caddy ignored modern benchmarks and went after the E90. The electrically assisted steering builds effort and feeds information in a way that rivals the best modern sports cars. Turn the nose in and hold it to the 1.01-g limit. Using that grip is easy, as the car communicates through the steering and chassis exactly when you’re about the slip the surly bonds of the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. At 3851 pounds, the CT4-V is more playful than the 668-hp CT5-V Blackwing. Size matters when you’re hustling, and the CT4-V’s (like the E90’s) strikes us as ideal.
It would have been even lovelier if Cadillac had crammed the Corvette’s naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 into the CT4-V or dipped into the small-block greatest hits with a 7.0-liter LS7. But the responsive twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 is improved over the version that powered the ATS-V. While not as silky as BMW’s inline-sixes, it spins willingly thanks to titanium connecting rods exclusive to the manual Blackwing.
Cadillac tells us that the little ‘Wing isn’t intended to be a dragster. Okay, Cadillac. So why does this car have the world’s most adjustable launch-control system? Not only can you dictate the launch rpm in steps of 100 from 2400 to 4000 rpm, but you can also tailor it to available surface traction by dialing in half-percent increments how much slip you want at the tires. The number of permutations is staggering, but there’s an automatic mode for those who just want the computers to figure it out. With the settings carefully set up for our surface, the 472-horse sedan raced to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. Rip through three no-lift shifts and the quarter-mile arrives in 12.4 seconds at 116 mph.
GM’s latest magnetorheological dampers provide a supple ride in their softest setting. They noticeably stiffen in sportier modes but manage to keep impact harshness from the driver. The CT4-V provides dynamic bliss without sacrificing refinement, making it an ideal daily driver.
Few cars inspire us to consider monthly payments, but the manual CT4-V Blackwing’s $59,990 base price prompted us to crunch the numbers. Years from now, when we’re standing around an EV charging station jawing about the glory days, we’ll tell anyone who’ll listen about this Blackwing.
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