- New high-performance model
- Supercharged 668-horsepower V8
- Standard manual transmission
- Part of the first CT5 generation introduced for the 2020 model year
In the conversation about gas-powered supersedans, Cadillac wants the last word. The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is a high-performance luxury sedan that combines every go-fast trick and tool in the General Motors catalog. The result is a staggeringly powerful yet easy-to-drive machine that costs less than the competition and even offers a six-speed manual transmission.
That bit is simple, but explaining the name isn't. In 2020, Cadillac replaced the CTS midsize sedan with the CT5. Gone too was the CTS-V and its supercharged V8. Now, there's a CT5-V, which has a slightly more powerful version of the CT5's optional turbocharged V6, but it's still a far cry from the CTS-V big bruiser. That duty falls upon the Blackwing.
It's a monster, but not for the reasons you may think. While 668 horsepower and rear-wheel drive might sound like a combination good for only burnouts and barely controllable straight-line acceleration, the Blackwing's mix of sophisticated electronic controls gives its driver the confidence to use that power everywhere.
Compared to a regular CT5, the CT5-V Blackwing features a stiffer body, adaptive suspension dampers, sticky tires, big brakes, an electronically controlled limited-slip differential and multi-level stability control. Cadillac also did a great job integrating these parts to make the driving experience fully come together.
As an example: The Blackwing is a big and heavy sedan, but its handling is surprisingly nimble. The differential carefully doles out power to the Michelin tires, letting you hammer down far earlier than you anticipate when exiting corners. The damper tuning means you can drive over track curbing with the gas pedal pinned without the rear tires spinning. Adjustable stability control helps you learn the limits of the car and your abilities, and it teaches you when and where to back off.
Cadillac's engineers say the automatic transmission can shift more quickly than Porsche's much-celebrated PDK dual-clutch transmission, but the Blackwing also changes shift speed and harshness midcorner so as to not upset the tires. So equipped, the Blackwing can do 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds, according to Cadillac.
Impressive as that may be, costlier all-wheel-drive-only rivals such as the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz AMG E 63 S boast slightly quicker figures. The Blackwing's manual transmission is certainly slower still, but it's hugely fun thanks to a no-lift shift feature that allows you to keep the gas pedal pinned during a full-throttle upshift without fear of damaging the driveline. And — let's back up here — did you notice that we just wrote "manual transmission"? You can barely find manuals on economy sedans these days, and they're fully extinct on the latest high-performance midsize luxury sedans from Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche. It's a unique selling point for the CT5-V Blackwing.
Supersedan power and acceleration require impressive braking power. To that end, the Blackwing comes standard with 15.7-inch rotors with Brembo six-piston calipers up front and 14.7-inch rotors with four-piston calipers in the rear. If you plan some track time, the available carbon-ceramic brakes reduce unsprung mass by 53 pounds and remain fade-free even after heavy track use. While the M5 and E 63 offer similar hardware, the Blackwing packs yet another unique selling point by offering optional magnesium wheels to cut weight even more.
The Blackwing largely masks its performance capability behind direct steering and a comfortable ride. Credit the adaptive dampers that, when dialed back to their street setting, ignore most bumps and relay a pleasing amount of road texture through the steering and cabin. Similarly, you can adjust steering effort, brake firmness and exhaust volume as desired for cruising.
The standard CT5's interior is thoughtfully laid out. You get upgraded materials in the Blackwing that look appropriate for the price, though they're not quite on par with pricier Audi, BMW and Mercedes options. Higher quality and two-tone leather are optional. Every Blackwing comes with heated, ventilated and massaging front seats, and interior upgrade packages add microfiber suede or carbon-fiber seat backing.
The steering wheel hosts a dial that lets you quickly change stability control settings and a button for one of the two preset driving modes. Opposite of a red stripe on the rim's 12 o'clock position is a plaque bearing the car's production number.
The CT5 sits a little lower than its competitors, so tall folks might have a hard time entering and exiting gracefully. There's a good amount of legroom in both rows, but the sloping roofline reduces headroom in the rear for taller occupants.
2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing
The Blackwing comes standard with a large, configurable and easy-to-read digital instrument cluster and head-up display that includes shift lights. When set to Track mode, the gauge cluster prioritizes the upper regions of the tachometer, making it easier to plan gear changes.
A 15-speaker AKG audio system is also included, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. A set of driving aids, such as forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring and exterior cameras for parking, also comes standard.
The available performance data recorder uses a forward-facing camera to record video of racetrack exploits, embedded with GPS data for lap times and vehicle data such as brake pedal application and g-forces. The 1080p video files can be analyzed through free software and uploaded to YouTube. You can simply use the system like a dashcam too.
The standard multi-setting stability control system, called Performance Traction Management, also includes a launch control system that drivers can adjust to specific surfaces, including a prepared drag strip. Drivers can even target a desired level of wheelslip.
The CT5-V Blackwing's base price — $84,990 (including destination) — is similar to what you might pay for a BMW M3 or Mercedes-AMG C 63 S that has a few options added. You could also look at it as a less expensive alternative to similarly sized performance sedans like the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E 63 S.
Not only does the Blackwing cost less than those sedans, but it also offers your choice between a six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission. When equipped with the automatic and other performance options — carbon-ceramic brakes and aerodynamic-enhancing carbon-fiber packages — the Blackwing essentially matches the starting price of those burly Germans.
What does it give up? A bit of interior materials quality and all-wheel drive, which is standard with the aforementioned large sedans as well as the even-costlier Audi RS 7. The Blackwing is rear-drive only.
2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing
You can't expect good fuel economy from large sedans with near 700 horsepower, so it shouldn't be surprising to see the CT5-V Blackwing gets an EPA-estimated 15 mpg combined with the manual and 16 mpg with the automatic. These results fall just under the automatic-only RS 7, M5 and E 63 S, which are all less powerful but also feature all-wheel drive.
The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is not just a successor to the CTS-V — it's also a superhero luxury sedan that's equal parts capable and thrilling on a racetrack. That it costs tens of thousands less than its rivals makes the package even sweeter.