These are the waning days of the internal combustion engine---and especially the outrageously powerful internal combustion engine. As manufacturers announce left and right that they're transitioning to electrification, Cadillac, which is doing the same, has also decided to throw one big party on the way out the door.
For the past two decades, Cadillac has been trying, with its smaller sedans, to be taken seriously as a maker of performance cars that can hold their own against---and hopefully beat---BMW's M cars. Truth be told, it's only now that they seem to have found the magic formula. It's called Blackwing.
The heart of Blackwing (available also in the larger CT5) is a hand-built engine. A 3.6-liter twin-turbo making 472 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque (the CT5, which I haven't driven yet, has a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 making 668 horsepower and 498 lb-ft of torque). A six-speed manual transmission, monster Brembo brakes, adaptive dampers and an electronic limited-slip differential are part of the package, as are summer-only tires, magnetic ride control, some aerodynamic ground effects and a trunk lid spoiler.
Zero to 60 runs are four seconds flat and the EPA fuel economy averages are 15 miles per gallon city, 23 highway. All of the above, on paper, makes for a pretty good match with the BMW M3. The surprise here is that, in a lot of ways, the Cadillac is better to drive. There's more feedback through the wheel and through the seat of your pants in the CT4-V Blackwing. And that builds driver confidence---inputs are more precise on the driver's end as a result. It is, pure and simple, more intuitive and more fun to drive on a winding road.
Interior materials and fit and finish are the best yet from Cadillac---but there's still trace elements of GM parts bin in some of the switchgear and harder plastics that would likely be off-putting to someone fresh out of the M3's cockpit.
The base price of the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is $58,995---about ten grand less than the BMW. In addition to the performance bits discussed above, that brings as standard equipment navigation, an AKG premium 14-speaker audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, 18-way adjustable driver and front passenger seats (heated), a full suite of active safety features and wireless phone charging.
Our tester had extra-cost options, as well. The Sky Cool Gray with Jet Black accent leather-surfaced seats were $4,900. That also included sueded microfiber-wrapped trim and a high-performance steering wheel. The Carbon Fiber 1 package is $4,350. Performance data and video recorder was $1,800, the Infrared Tintcoat exterior paint was $1,225, the sunroof $1,050, a Technology Package (air ionizer and head-up display) was $725, the Climate Package (adding ventilation and massage to the front seats) was $600, red brake calipers were $595 and Torch Red seatbelts were $400. With $995 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is $75,435.
That's a loaded CT4-V Blackwing for about three grand more than the starting price of a BMW M3 (and 15 grand below the as-tested price of the 2021 M3 I reviewed last November).
Roughly equal performance, a more involving driver experience and fifteen grand in the bank is a compelling combination. Who knows whether Cadillac will make an electric equivalent to the Blackwing? If they do, fantastic. But if this is a last hurrah before moving on, it's one hell of a great one.