The wait for fans who have been expecting Cadillac’s latest V-Series hot rods since the camo versions of the CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwings hot rods at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix in 2019 is over.
The arrival of the Black Wings capped Cadillac’s expansion of the V-Series into a multi-level lineup of high-performance vehicles. The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is the most powerful Caddy ever, with 668 horsepower and a top speed of over 200 mph.
The CT4 and CT5 sports sedans replaced the ATS and CTS in 2020 and both offer two V versions. However, the new Vs weren’t the proper successors to the late, ATS-V and CTS-V. It was more in line with the milder, 420-horsepower “V-Sport” model that joined the CTS lineup in 2018: fast, but not necessarily track-oriented.
The circuit-ready new Blackwings are the rightful heirs to the late, ATS-V and CTS-V.
The CT5-V Blackwing has the most advantage, but its smaller partner, the CT4-V Blackwing, is no less.
The Blackwing brand derives from the 550-horsepower “Blackwing” V8 engine used in the short-lived CT6-V large sedan, which was dropped along with the regular CT6 due to low sales in 2020. But instead of using that engine, Blackwings are relying on technology and engines from their ancestors.
With Cadillac heading toward an electric future, these could be the last V-Class cars with gas engines.
Rory Harvey, Cadillac’s global vice president, said at a press conference introducing the CT4-V and CT5-V Black Wings.
For now, Harvey has emphasized its importance to the continued success of the brand. The V brand is important to helping Cadillac reach a younger, wealthier audience.
The most powerful Cadillac ever
The attention-grabbing CT5-V Blackwing comes with 668 horsepower and 659 pound-feet of torque from its supercharged 6.2-liter V8, numbers unmatched by any previous Cadillac.
It’s another iteration of the LT4 V8 that powered the CTS-V and C7 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, but there are plenty of upgrades. “There’s a new supercharger, a new induction system and an exhaust system,” said Brandon Vivian, Cadillac’s chief engineer.
There are also internal and metallic changes. The intake airflow is improved by 46% than the CTS-V, while the smaller turbocharger rotors reduce boost in the rev range.
The numbers can’t match Dodge’s 717- and 793-horsepower Hellcats, but while these cars are all about rioting tires, the CT5-V Blackwing, like the CTS-V, is all about carving the tracks. Cadillac says the car is aimed squarely at the BMW M3 CS and Mercedes-AMG C63 S. The Audi RS6 couldn’t be far from the list either.
A powerful six-speed manual transmission with automatic rev-matching and no-lift shifting is standard. A 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is optional. There are selectable driving modes, some of which have been specially developed through track testing. The automatic will likely produce faster lap times for those steering the inner Lewis Hamilton.
Unlike regular CT5s, the Blackwing is rear-wheel drive only, but features an enhanced electronic limited-slip differential optimized for each driving position. It can send up to 1,475 lb-ft of torque to the wheel with the greatest amount of stability. It’s also 22 pounds lighter than the old CTS-V unit.
The CT5-V Blackwing features Cadillac’s fourth-generation Magnetic Ride Control system, which uses sensors in the wheels to stabilize and lubricate the suspension in milliseconds.
Vivian said the system gave Cadillac engineers plenty of room to improve the suspension for everyday driving and track-ready agility. There are also reinforced bushings, hollow stabilizer bars and structural reinforcements on the bodywork.
Aside from the slightly larger rotors, the CT5-V Blackwing’s braking system is similar to that of the old CTS-V. The carbon-ceramic brake package could cut the unsprung weight by 53 pounds, but Cadillac didn’t release a setup price.
Form follows function
The Blackwing’s visual changes from regular CT5s are more subtle and tasteful than the bulges and angles of the old CTS-V, but leave no doubt about the car’s intent. The new parts are purely functional, aimed at improving the air flow and dynamics of the car.
“Every part of a racing car has to serve a specific purpose,” said Brian Smith, Cadillac’s director of exterior design.
The face of the CT5-V Blackwing is filled with wide, optimized vents to direct air to various heat exchangers and to the brakes. Even the grille, which is usually purely decorative, Smith said, has been modified to direct the air where it needs to go.
The Blackwing has a wider front track and wider wheels than the regular CT5-V, which required fatter fenders, filled with functional exhaust manifolds. Swinging extensions line the sides and lead to a redesigned rear curtain with four prominent exhaust ports.
Prominent front and rear spoilers help reduce lift and enhance stability. (If a regular aero package isn’t enough, Cadillac will offer a carbon fiber package to make it even bigger later this year.)
Exclusive 19-inch forged aluminum wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires are standard. Cadillac plans to add a set of magnesium-alloy wheels that are lighter and stronger than aluminum. It is popular in racing cars, but rare in production cars because of its cost. Pricing for the Carbon Fiber Package and Mag wheels will be available by spring.
As with the exterior changes, the CT5-V Blackwing’s interior improvements are aimed at racehorses and enthusiast drivers.
Heated and ventilated seats with lumbar massage similar to those on the regular CT5-V are standard, but the available Level 2 performance seats seem to be a better choice for working on the track, especially with headrests thin enough to accommodate a racing helmet. The seats look and feel richer than the old CTS-V, with modular stitching reminiscent of modern entries from Genesis and Mercedes.
The Blackwing gets the same set of safety features and an easy-to-use infotainment system as the CT5, the latter using a 10-inch touchscreen with standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as wireless phone charging.
A 12-inch digital gauge cluster is located behind the wheel and features a few added tech features just for the budding league rider, including three modes, Tour, Sport and Track, as well as two configurable areas for displaying relevant information. The standard head-up display matches group modes and puts information right on the screen, so there’s no need to look away while clipping that top on the fifth turn.
The optional performance data logger collects performance data such as real-time audio and front-facing camera video, which drivers can later analyze to improve their skills or impress friends on YouTube. The camera system is in its second generation and has higher resolution, redesigned timing overlays and improved dashboard camera functions.
Pricing for the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing will start at $84,990 including destination fees and customers can start making reservations right away. The first 250 cars will have numbered plates on their steering wheels and arrive this spring. General availability at merchants is expected by summer.
GM has said that Cadillac will launch five electric vehicles by 2025, at which time the CT5 will be replaced. It’s a good bet that with high-powered sports sedans like Porsche’s Taycan gaining consumer interest, electric V models will follow.