From the October 2021 issue of car and driver.
The Norse myth of Ragnarok tells of a massive war that takes the lives of several gods and destroys the world in a cataclysmic flood. This is followed by reincarnation which brings something better. An era ends and a new one begins. Bad things happen, but stay hopeful and pass Lutefisk.
You can think of Cadillac’s CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing—the last gas-powered sedans to wear the V badge—as the last of the old guard. Like the gods in Ragnarok, they go into a hopeless battle knowing they will be the last of their kind. And in short, the coming flood of electric vehicles will assure their demise and change the automotive landscape forever.
The electrics may be fast, and we may even grow to love them, but they don’t make you laugh the way the CT5-V Blackwing’s exhaust resonates against a pit wall. There is no doubt that enthusiasts will remember the bigger, badder Blackwing as one of the best sports sedans of all time. Years after it’s gone, its legend will live on.
Before you accuse us of seducing, let’s say this section is full of all-wheel-drive sedans with turbocharged engines and automatic transmissions. Cadillac is the exception. It doubled down on rear-wheel drive, manual gearbox and sports-car dynamics.
Blackwing offers an automatic, and it’s a performance option, not just one of convenience. We have yet to test the 10-speed Slushbox—effectively a $2,775 option, given that the auto mandates a $900 driver-assistance package and the manual’s $2100 tariff carries a $1700 gas-guzzler tax. does – but we believe it will be faster in line than it’s own six speed. we do not care. The manual shifter glides properly through fully weighted detents and not-too-narrow gate spacing. This is what we crave, what speculators will collect and what collectors will want.
The Enthusiast Special starts at $87,090. Skip the heavy sunroof and check all the boxes to save weight, like the $9000 carbon-ceramic brakes. Compared to standard rotors, the optional discs boasted a claimed rotational mass of 62 pounds and unsprung weight of 53 pounds, improving the car’s acceleration, ride and handling. With a full tank of premium, this sedan comes in at 4092 pounds.
Another $9330 gets you (and our test car) the full carbon-fiber aero kit that is said to reduce lift by 85 percent, a great deal for a car that will reach 205 mph. (The caddy hasn’t validated top speed yet, and we don’t have access to a feature that would allow us to safely test it ourselves.) Before you go to this CT5-V Blackwing’s $114,645 price To scoff, consider that adjusted for inflation, a 1987 Allanté would cost around $122,000. This is a much better deal.
The engine is as close to Thor’s hammer as the post-Norse world will know. A pushrod 6.2-liter V-8 with titanium intake valves is an Eaton supercharger. Power peaks at 668 horses, and the engine spins at its 6500-rpm redline as if unencumbered by a flywheel. With 659 pound-feet of torque available, passengers won’t notice if you accidentally lose it in a higher-than-ideal gear. However, if you rip three redline shifts into an 11.6-second quarter-mile pass at 125 mph, they’ll notice. As one employee’s spouse told him: “I don’t like that you’re driving this car.” The better half of an auto reviewer doesn’t have more than praise.
It takes 3.6 seconds to reach 60 mph. Put your foot in it for 17.9 seconds (something you can do thanks to no-lift shift programming) and comes to 150 mph. Those who haven’t mastered heel-toe just yet will love the automatic rev matching on the downshift, but we love that you can turn it on or off at any time with a dedicated console button.
When it was time to slow down, six-piston calipers gripped our test car’s optional 15.7-inch front rotors, while four-pot binders squeezed the 14.6-inch rear. Based on our lap at Virginia International Raceway, we expected short stops at 70 and 100 mph, compared to the Cadillac’s 154- and 321-foot performance. This is about the only area where the Big Blackwing’s performance is only good rather than great.
In every way, it behaves like a very small car. Body movement is kept controlled, front-to-back balance doesn’t put too much pressure on the nose or tail turning, and each component serves to hide car theft from the driver. The chassis is boldly neutral, but will meter in too much power and back out in a controlled manner. Hold it to the limit and you’re turning at 1.02 grams. The model-specific Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber, fitted on a decent stagger of 275/35ZR-19 at the front and 305/30ZR-19 at the rear, also deserves the credit. Compared to off-the-shelf 4S tires, these incorporate the polymer magic of Michelin’s Track-Attack Cup 2s. Steering and brakes are both electrically assisted, but you’d never know with natural effort and—I can’t believe it—don’t have analog controls.
General Motors’ latest magnetorheological dampers can read and respond to input 1000 times a second and will automatically change the ride as the task demands. leave the suspension alone; It’s smart enough to trick Grandma into thinking it’s her devil. A four-stage convertible exhaust system takes the V-8’s operatic sound from Pianossimo to Fortissimo, though even in the quietest setting the cabin hits 73 decibels at 70 mph and 87 with wide-open throttle. It will also increase to 90 decibels with the exhaust in its most ignorant mode. Mercedes engineers will be jealous of the Blackwing’s ride quality, while Porsche will be amazed at how engaging the car is to drive. No one will envy the fuel economy. We averaged 13 mpg.
Cycle between four driver-selectable settings and you’ll notice changes in ride quality, steering heft and engine sound. There are also two configurable modes for storing your secret sauce, but the Tour works well on all roads, proving that great chassis engineers know a good setup. Giving owners the freedom to customize settings is one place Cadillac followed the competition, but wasn’t required to. It’s possible that a million monkeys with typewriters will eventually write Shakespeare because it’s that one owner will find something better than the settings made by GM chassis engineers.
Those same engineers dialed in Performance Traction Management (PTM) software that uses varying degrees of stability and traction-control interference to provide a safety net to track drivers. Cadillac’s development drivers used the most permissive mode, Race 2, when setting the time. In VIR, he followed the 2:49.3 lap the Mercedes-AMG GT63 S had put in a Lightning lap a few years earlier, but came in 0.2 seconds short. The engineers made sure to tell us that this was a preproduction car driven in less than ideal conditions, their way of telling us we could do better.
“Nobody sweats from details like a GM” used to be an advertising tagline that no one really believed. But that certainly applies to the CT5-V Blackwing. The grill mesh went through some 40 variations before engineers decided they would achieve the best possible flow. And he prototyped, cut open, reworked, and re-sealed the muffler countless times before discovering the heady sound of this car.
Driving the CT5-V Blackwing it becomes clear that this is the sum of thousands of details, thoughtfully thought out and executed. We’ll say it again: it’s one of the best sports sedans not only in recent memory but ever. Buy one for as long as you can, before V succumbs to his own Ragnarok.
Casey Colwell challenges me to find something-something-wrong with the CT5-V Blackwing. should be no problem; No car is perfect. But great people make you forget their shortcomings, and this caddy is fantastic. In tour mode, it reminds me of the E39 BMW M5: speed made creamy smooth, smooth and comfortable. In track mode, it embodies the wild-beast heart of the Mercedes-AMG GT63 S. Forget the bland interior design and garish seat inserts and armrests. What’s wrong is that the CT5-V is the end of the Blackwing line. Wrong, wrong, wrong! —Rich Sepos
Part of being a great trait is making it known. GM’s PTM modes for track driving hid behind an overly complicated sequence of mode selections and button presses, to the Blackwings’ steering-wheel toggle switches. Many owners probably never realized it existed. With the new setup, keen drivers can easily take advantage of five PTM modes, as do GM’s development drivers when gunning for the fastest lap. —Dave Vanderwerp