Test DrIve Review: The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing Is 668 Horsepower Of 6-Speed Snarling American Muscle, For The Very Last Time
In 2004 Cadillac introduced its first ever V8-powered six-speed sport sedan, the CTS-V. Few could have predicted that nearly 20 years later Caddy would end up the last brand standing with an eight-cylinder, three-pedal four-door in the mix.
The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing might have swapped a number for a letter in its name (and appended a colorful descriptor), but it's the spiritual successor to a car that changed everything for the automaker, setting it on a course the combined performance and prestige after years of wandering in the premium wastelands. Brash, boosted, and big under the hood, the Blackwing is a supercharged swan song not just for Cadillac's V8 monsters, but for an entire era of automotive excess.
Three Pedals, Two Hands
Despite the different nomenclature it's helpful to think of the CT5-V Blackwing as the natural replacement for the third-generation CTS-V, a car that boasted overwhelming firepower but saddled it with an automatic-only order sheet. The Blackwing's six-speed manual gearbox is more than just a gimmick to get purists back in the fold, it's a feature that entirely transforms the Cadillac by creating a visceral link between pilot and machine that banishes the carefully-curated speed experiences found elsewhere among the Blackwing's rivals.
In a world where the BMW M5 and the Mercedes-AMG E63 S have given themselves over to the dulling effects of all-wheel drive and computer-controlled, self-shifting gearboxes, the Cadillac presents a truly unique choice for anyone shopping near the $100k mark. With a smooth clutch and well-spaced ratios, the Blackwing makes the driver an integral part of every 3.6 second blast to 60-mph, asking them to lend a helping right hand in harnessing the vehicle's 668 hp, 6.2L V8.
Running through the Blackwing's gears borders on a near-religious experience, especially if your deity of preference is the god of thunder. Cadillac has programmed several different exhaust settings into the CT5-V's pipes, ranging from 'pedestrian cold-start startle' to 'air raid.' Each showcases the kind of aural drama that's often muted by turbocharging and simply not available to autos that avail themselves of a lower cylinder count. Think of the Blackwing as a low-flying dark cloud, alternately rattling windows and firing lightning bolts from its quad-tip posterior, and you've got the general idea.
The CT5-V's supercharged engine also throws down a bracing 659 lb-ft of torque, numbers that place it just behind the Escalade-V in the pantheon of Cadillac's mightiest ever models. Of course, the sedan has the advantage of weighing more than a full ton less than the SUV, checking in at just a hair over 4,000 lbs (which is itself over a couple of hundred pounds heavier than the original CTS-V).
Actual Driving Required
If you think nearly 700 horses make it that much easier to spin the rear tires, then you're absolutely correct. A big part of why European luxury badges have turned exclusively to all-wheel drive for their most-muscled machines is to save drivers from the oversteer-oriented consequences of their right-foot actions.
Rather than dial out the danger, however, Cadillac has elected to trust its owners with full custody over the Blackwing's outrageous engine output. The end result is a much more enjoyable communion with a balanced chassis that has been designed to sharpen, rather than shroud feedback from the road. After a steady dose of four-wheel deadening from the competition, it feels like swapping a sandy beach for hard-packed tarmac on the morning jog.
Of course the Blackwing makes traction a matter of degree, offering a launch control system as well as GM's Performance Traction Management (PTM) system as standard equipment. The latter provides layers of electronic intervention that start at 'Wet' and escalate all the way to the nearly nanny-free 'Race 2,' further underscoring the lack of hand-holding from the CT5-V's chassis. In a pleasing turn of events, Cadillac has placed the PTM control dial directly on the steering wheel, avoiding the intricate activation sequence required on most other autos with this feature installed.
Still, it's the direct nature of the CT5-V Blackwing that presents a lasting appeal. Although there are an obligatory number of drive modes to select from, including the ability to configure one's preferences through the vehicle's V button, it's a far cry from the 'crack open the owner's manual and get a degree in Newtonian physics' requirement to digitally edit many German sport sedan personality profiles. The Cadillac is as close to get-in-and-drive as one is likely to find at its price point, and it's better for it.
End Of The Line
None of the above would matter much if the CT5-V Blackwing didn't wrap its stunningly personal performance in a package that was both easy on the eyes and comfortable on the commute. A usable rear seat, a generous trunk, and a pleasantly post cabin elevate the Cadillac past the compromises required by the sports cars that are a match for its speed and agility, and only serve to underscore that it costs tens of thousands less than its closest M and AMG comparables (even when loading up with options such as its carbon fiber aero package, which claims to improve downforce by a remarkable 85%).
The last four-door, V8-powered manual automobile on the market is far from just a novelty: it's also a fitting reminder of what we're about to leave behind as EVs replace ICEs in the upper echelons of automotive enthusiasm. More than 60 percent of Blackwing orders have left the factory six-speed equipped. It's hard to think of a more fitting epitaph for the basso profondo harmony of an eight-cylinder clutch dump drawing down a cloud of tire smoke to serve as internal combustion's final curtain.