2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Review Update

Jeff Youngs, Independent Expert | Mar 23, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Cadillac deals!

The Cadillac CT4 was introduced for the 2020 model year, replacing the ATS as the automaker's compact sedan offering. Along with the slightly larger CT5, the CT4 is just one of two passenger-car models remaining in Cadillac's U.S. lineup. As Cadillac's smallest model, the CT4 represents the entry point to GM's luxury brand, serving a similar role as the Audi A3BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, and Mercedes-Benz A-Class among its German rivals.

Although it was refreshed and renamed for 2020, Cadillac has continued improving the CT4 each year. Updates for the 2021 model year included:

  • New 12-inch digital instrumentation display available on most versions
  • Optional next-generation Super Cruise with Lane Change on Demand (Premium Luxury and V-Series trims)
  • Diamond Sky special edition, based on the Premium Luxury trim

For 2022, a new Blackwing high-performance variant debuts with the following equipment:

Other changes to the 2022 Cadillac CT4 lineup include available Super Cruise 1 and Super Cruise 2 packages (Premium Luxury and Sport trim levels), and (extra-cost) Blaze Orange Metallic exterior paint (Sport only).

The 2022 Cadillac CT4 comes in five trim levels—Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, V-Series, and high-performance V-Series Blackwing. All non-Blackwing CT4s are powered by a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, whereas the CT4-V Blackwing comes exclusively with a twin-turbo V6. Both manual and automatic transmissions are available. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive (AWD) is available on all but the Blackwing.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2020 Cadillac CT4 with the base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. This review focuses on the new V-Series Blackwing, and how it potentially impacts the CT4's overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Cadillac CT4 - Find the best Cadillac deals!

2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Electric Blue Front Quarter View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

The Cadillac CT4 competes in the Compact Premium Car market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 61 percent of new Cadillac CT4 buyers are male (vs. 65 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new CT4 buyer is 64 years (vs. 56).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the CT4 in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Interior design (in a tie with Feeling of safety)
  • Feeling of safety (in a tie with Interior design)
  • Infotainment system (in a tie with Powertrain)
  • Powertrain (in a tie with Infotainment system)
  • Setting up and starting
  • Driving comfort
  • Fuel economy
  • Getting in and out

The Cadillac CT4 was not included in the official rankings in the 2021 APEAL Study due to its small sample size.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Cadillac CT4 - Find the best Cadillac deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes a 2022 CT4-V Blackwing ($58,995 base price) equipped with the following options:

  • Natural Tan leather seats with Jet Black Accents package
  • Carbon Fiber 1 package
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Performance data and video recorder
  • Driver Assist package
  • Technology package
  • Electric Blue exterior paint
  • Climate package
  • Blue-painted brake calipers

The price of the test vehicle came to $76,560, including the $995 destination charge.

Standard Twin-Turbo V6, 6-speed Manual Transmission

2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Engine

Photo: Jeff Youngs

The only version of the 2022 Cadillac CT4 to offer 6-cylinder power, the CT4-V Blackwing comes standard with a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engine. The revised software and an improved air intake system provide 472 hp and 445 pound-feet of torque. This represents a significant power increase over the CT4-V, which produces 325 hp and 380 pound-feet from its turbocharged 2.7-liter 4-cylinder.

In developing the Blackwing V6, engineers squeezed extra power from the engine by using:

  • Low-restriction air intake
  • Low-inertia turbine wheels
  • Titanium connecting rods (manual transmission only)
  • Revised crankshaft counterweights
  • Re-targeted piston oil squirters
  • Manifold-integrated water-to-air charge cooling system

Cadillac also spent significant time developing the transmissions for the new CT4-V Blackwing. While manual transmissions, like sedans themselves, are steadily losing favor with consumers, Cadillac's research shows that 66 percent of American adults can drive a stick shift (and more than half have owned or leased a car with a manual transmission). More importantly, interest in driving (or learning to drive) a manual is higher among those with an annual household income of $75,000 or more.

So, what did Cadillac do with this information? They made a manual transmission standard on the CT4-V Blackwing, of course! The performance-oriented 6-speed Tremec manual transmission in the Blackwing includes the following:

  • Twin-disc clutch
  • Active rev matching
  • No-lift shift (allows the driver to shift gears without letting off the gas pedal)
  • Transmission and rear differential cooling
  • Physical barrier stop for the clutch pedal
  • Shorter shifter ratio

For those driving enthusiasts who don't want a completely immersive sports sedan experience, an electronically controlled 10-speed automatic transmission is available for $2,275. It features:

  • Tap shift/manual mode paddle shifters
  • Sport mode
  • Unique oil pan design
  • Dynamic Performance mode
  • Auxiliary pump that primes the transmission for improved cold-shift performance

Sadly, the test vehicle came with the optional 10-speed automatic transmission, denying me the most engaging driving experience. After all, you buy a car like the CT4-V Blackwing for the connected feel it provides. With the automatic, it seems like you're paying for 100 percent of the car but only having 90 percent of the fun.

Nevertheless, the automatic proved its worth. Power delivery was immediate and linear, and the powertrain provided smooth, effortless (and, in Sport mode, raucous) acceleration and power. Cadillac says the CT4-V Blackwing can accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in 3.8 seconds (automatic transmission), and claims a top speed of 189 mph.

There is a downside to the automatic, aside from less driver engagement. While shifts are incredibly smooth—almost imperceptible, in fact—the soundtrack inside the cabin is more reminiscent of what you'd experience with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). That's never a compliment. Cadillac would be well served to reinstate a little shift-point hesitation as the Blackwing climbs through the gears. It may seem like a step backward in terms of refinement, but I'm willing to bet the target audience would appreciate the more traditional sound and feel.

Sporty Yet Functional Exterior Styling

When creating a high-performance luxury sport sedan, it would be easy for an automaker to stuff a big V8 or super-tuned power plant under the hood, enhance the car's ride and handling, and pay little attention to the exterior, save for the obligatory badges and painted brake calipers. But buyers in this class expect more. They want some visual sizzle, which tells onlookers and other motorists there's something special going on here.

While the CT4-V Blackwing would qualify as a super sedan solely on the merits of its powertrain, Cadillac invested significant time and resources in the car's exterior design, not only to provide a unique visual but also to enhance performance and maximize the Blackwing's aerodynamics. The result is unique exterior features designed to reduce lift while aiding the cooling of drivetrain-related components.

Highlights of the CT4-V Blackwing's standard aero package include:

  • New primary mesh grille design
  • Larger secondary grilles
  • Front splitter
  • Rear spoiler
  • Mid-body panels that improve underbody aerodynamics
  • “Underwing” underbody panels
  • Rocker extensions
  • Rear valence diffuser

For even better airflow management, an available carbon-fiber aero package (a $4,350 option) provides a 214-percent reduction in lift compared to the stock Blackwing aero package, according to Cadillac. My test car had the optional aero package, which included the following items, all formed of carbon fiber:

  • Front splitter
  • Front wheel-well deflectors
  • Front dive planes
  • Rear extra aero spoiler

Other unique exterior styling features on the CT4-V Blackwing include full LED lighting; distinctive forged aluminum, staggered-size 18-inch wheels; and Brembo brake calipers available in grey, blue, red, and bronze.

Three Premium Interiors with Enhanced Technology

2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Natural Tan with Jet Black Interior Dashboard

Photo: Jeff Youngs

Cadillac groups the CT4-V Blackwing's driver-focused interiors into three "trim levels"—standard, mid-level, and up-level.

The standard interior features bolstered performance leatherette front seats with heat and 18-way power adjustment, a high-performance leather-trimmed steering wheel, carbon fiber console trim, headliner made of high-quality Taffeta material, and track-specific layouts for the driver information center. Jet Black is the only available color on the standard interior.

Cadillac outfits the CT4-V Blackwing's mid-level interior with Level 1 high-performance cloth/leather front seats with a slim headrest design, sueded appointments, heat, and 16-way power adjustment. The steering wheel on the mid-grade interior also comes with additional controls and carbon fiber trim. Available colors include Jet Black or Sky Cool Grey.

The up-level interior ups the ante with Level 2 high-performance leather front seats with sueded appointments, heat, ventilation, lumbar massage, and 18-way power adjustment. This interior also comes with leather and sueded door accents and a sueded microfiber headliner. Color choices are Jet Black, Sky Cool Grey, or Natural Tan.

Front and center in the CT4-V Blackwing, the configurable instrument cluster's 12-inch display includes unique V-Series Blackwing start-up animation and three customizable display personas: Tour, Sport, and Track. Drivers can further tailor the display to view their preferred information.

When viewing in Track mode, drivers can access the Launch Control menu (for custom launch settings and enabling the line lock control), take advantage of the shift light feature (for optimal manual shifting), and gain access to the Performance Timer. With this feature, drivers can record zero-to-60, zero-to-100, and quarter-mile acceleration times, and activate a manual lap timer. Drivers can also monitor lateral and longitudinal g-forces.

The standard high-performance steering wheel features carbon fiber accents and, on cars equipped with the optional 10-speed automatic transmission, magnesium shift paddles. The steering wheel has a quick-access V-Mode button and a Performance Traction Management switch. There's also a serialized production number plate at the bottom. For CT4-V Blackwings equipped with the manual transmission, the unique center console features carbon fiber accents, and atop the shifter sits a 3D-printed medallion cap.

For enthusiasts who participate in track days, the available Performance Data Recorder (PDR) allows CT4-V Blackwing owners to record and analyze their driving performance in various aspects. The second-generation PDR includes real-time audio and front camera video. It also provides up to 34 different types of performance data for those who like to dig into the numbers. The enhanced, second-gen PDR records in higher resolution (1080p), provides more refined timing overlays, has better performance traction management display modes, and features enhanced dash cam functionality.

In terms of infotainment, the CT4-V Blackwing comes with the latest CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system with an 8-inch touchscreen display, standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and wireless phone charging. A 14-speaker AKG premium audio system is standard. In addition, the CUE system in the CT4-V Blackwing includes access to several Blackwing-specific features and apps, including the available PDR and front-seat adjustments.

Next-Generation Magnetic Ride Control Suspension

For a sports sedan to be genuinely world-class, the car's ride and handling capabilities must meet or exceed the powertrain's. Like the old Pirelli tire ad says, power is nothing without control.

Indeed, Cadillac has endowed the CT4-V Blackwing with a chassis and suspension capable of handling the nearly 500 hp the engine produces. Shock tower braces, an underside shear plate, and thicker rear cross members firm up the chassis. Meanwhile, an electronic limited-slip rear differential works with Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) to enhance road grip and smooth out road imperfections.

Although the standard-issue CT4 and non-Blackwing V-Series are available with AWD, it is not available on the CT4-V Blackwing. Instead, Cadillac equips the top-spec Blackwing with an enhanced electronic limited-slip rear differential. It's lighter than the version in other GM performance cars, and Cadillac says it is optimized for each driving mode and Performance Traction Management setting. According to Cadillac, the electronic system can send more power to the rear wheel with the most traction during hard cornering, thus enhancing road grip.

The MRC 4.0 system in the new CT4-V Blackwing features stiffer springs, hollow stabilizer bars, and higher-rate bushings. According to Cadillac, MRC 4.0, with its enhanced components, can measure, transmit, and process changes in road conditions four times faster than the previous generation. Indeed, the MRC suspension in the CT4-V Blackwing does a tremendous job of soaking up road imperfections and providing a planted feel.

The CT4-V Blackwing features a MacPherson strut front suspension and a 5-link independent rear suspension. High-quality Brembo brakes provide stopping power with 6-piston front calipers and 4-piston rears. Cadillac says the new Blackwing 18-inch wheel design enables larger brake rotors—15 inches up front and 13.4 inches in the back. Even though my test car had Michelin Pilot Alpin snow tires fitted for the winter season instead of the Pilot Sport 4S summer tires developed exclusively for the Blackwing, the stopping performance was outstanding.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Cadillac deals!

2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Electric Blue Rear Quarter View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

On paper, the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is a winner. Powerful twin-turbo V6 engine? Check. Available manual transmission? Yep. World-class sport suspension? You got it. Big, fade-free brakes? Yessir. Driver-focused cockpit? For sure. Quality infotainment system? Absolutely. Launch control? Oh yeah. Competitive pricing? On point. And so on and so forth. Undoubtedly, the CT4-V Blackwing stacks up to the competition in just about every objective measure.

Why then, possessing all these credentials, does it seem like the CT4-V Blackwing is still playing second fiddle to the likes of the Audi RS 3, BMW M2 Competition, and Mercedes-AMG CLA 35? Is it the lack of available AWD? Is it an interior that, nice as it is, still doesn't quite measure up? Or is it the fact that, as a relatively new model line (and one that underwent a name change just two years ago), the CT4 is still trying to find its identity among a peer group with better-established bloodlines?

It truly is a shame that the CT4-V Blackwing doesn't get more respect. Sure, the V6 doesn't growl as you'd hope, the 10-speed automatic drones a bit like a CVT, the interior feels a bit lackluster, it's hard to get in and out of, the back seat is almost useless, and the trunk is small. But make no mistake, the CT4-V Blackwing can run with the big dogs in the class—in a straight line or around a track. Factor in the car's chiseled exterior styling, athletic stance, excellent suspension, impressive technology features, and value for the money, and there's a lot to like.

Jeff Youngs has more than 25 years of experience in the auto industry, including 19 years with J.D. Power in both marketing and editorial management roles. He also spent nearly six years with General Motors as a media relations pro.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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