SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – They say we’re nearing the end of an era. While I firmly believe we’re still relatively far away from full obsolescence of gasoline, automakers are in a massive hurry to rush electrified vehicles to market. Taking this transition very seriously and to ensure we’re on board with the latest technology available, we set out to San Francisco to jump behind the wheel of the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, a 668-horsepower monster with a supercharged V8.
Cadillac has made significant changes to their nomenclature, doing away with names in favour of alphanumeric characters. The CT5 is their midsized sedan offering, slotted above the CT4, also available in “V” form. Formerly, the CTS-V was the performance sedan, but the regular CT5-V is just a regular sporty version, and not the most ridiculous of them all. This one, with the Blackwing name, gets the big V8 and goes head to head against the likes of the Mercedes-AMG E 63 and BMW M5 Competition.
A supercharged and intercooled 6.2-liter LT4 V8 lives under the hood of the Blackwing, good for 668 horsepower at 6,500RPM and 659 lb-ft. of torque at 3,600RPM. It can snap off 100 km/h from a dig in 3.7 seconds, and sounds absolutely wild while doing it. Being a General Motors performance V8, the CT5-V hauls with authority and power is available everywhere in the powerband, all the time. There’s no lag as there would be with a turbocharged power plant, and while the torque isn’t available right off idle, it delivers drama as it builds revs, making this a genuinely passionate vehicle to pilot.
Following the theme of preservation, Cadillac offers the Blackwing with a six-speed manual transmission. While this wasn’t as surprising a decade ago, it happens to be the only sports sedan available today in the luxury segment that offers one other than the BMW M3. A ten-speed automatic is optional, and will actually be a little bit faster off the line thanks to optimal shifts being programmed in, but the unicorn is the three-pedal version tested here.
Power is only sent to the rear wheels, and boy, this thing is an absolute joy to drive in all environments. Our drive in the Bay Area consisted of roughly 500 miles through both the extremely hilly streets of San Francisco (my left knee will not forget this trip), and the rest of the time calmly cruising through Napa Valley and its picturesque wineries. The CT5-V was eager to make itself heard in “V” mode, accelerating to speed with urgency and smoothness thanks to the no-lift shift feature. Slowing down for turns and downshifting is complemented by an orchestra from the tailpipes, with the perfect amount of grumble and rumble.
While most would say the best parts of this car are the engine and transmission, there’s an underdog that makes this Cadillac feel like the ultimate performance sedan – the chassis. It’s the same platform that underpinned the outgoing CTS, and it was sublime in that application as well. GM has also implemented the best and most sophisticated version of their MagneRide adaptive suspension system into the Blackwing, which means the ride is composed when you want it to be, and extra-firm for performance settings.
Fuel efficiency is as expected for a high-performance V8, but not quite as bad as one might imagine. We averaged 13.9L/100km in combined driving over the course of our test, and that consisted of plenty of spirited driving, urban traffic crawling, and navigating the hills of the Bay Area. On a longer highway haul down to San Jose and back, we saw 10.4L/100km without even trying to be frugal, which is impressive for a vehicle with this amount of power.
Inside, the CT5 delivers the level of luxury one would expect from Cadillac, but with an added splash of sporty zest. Our tester was equipped with the carbon fiber bucket front seats, which look just brilliant from behind, and are both comfortable and supportive. They are heated and ventilated, and our two rear passengers had no complaints about the accommodations out back either. Material fit and finish is pretty good, though we heard some annoying squeaks and rattles from the door and window area throughout the week.
While the German offerings are getting more and more complicated by the day, the domestics seem to have infotainment figured out. The Caddy’s 12-inch customizable digital instrument cluster looks great, is easy to navigate thanks to hard buttons on the steering wheel, and is not susceptible to glare. The main infotainment system is a 10-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The native interface is a bit clunky, and the screen is angled a bit too far back, but it’s easy to use overall and the 15-speaker AKG sound system is top-notch.
Canadian pricing for the CT5-V Blackwing starts at $87,798. Our tester was a US-spec vehicle and equipped with the carbon ceramic brakes ($9,000), carbon fiber seatbacks and semi-analine leather ($6,090), Carbon Fiber 1 and 2 packages ($9,300 combined), Performance Data and Video Recorder ($1,600), and a few other options totalling $28,455, bringing the as-tested price to $112,000 before destination and taxes. It’s not exactly cheap, but try getting anywhere close to an E 63 or M5 Competition for this price.
The only glaring issues we found with the CT5-V, and the most obvious is the squeaks in the interior. We hope that these can be chalked off to a 10,000 kilometer press vehicle that may not have had the easiest life. The other is the ground clearance and amount of carbon fiber sticking out everywhere. Those that live in areas with potholes or taller driveway entrances may want to reconsider, because I can’t imagine these bits are cheap to replace.
The claim from General Motors is that the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing signifies the end of their development of the gasoline V8 engine, as they venture down the road of electrification. We can’t imagine a world where GM’s large SUVs and trucks don’t offer a flagship V8 option, so we’ll just have to wait and see – but if this is the swan song, it’s quite possibly the most brilliant note to end things on. What. A. Machine.