2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing: The Best Argument Against A BMW M3

The 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is a better driver-focused sports sedan than the BMW M3. That’s a statement sure to ruffle more than a few feathers, as the German automaker has all but dominated the segment since the late 1980s. Still, after seat time in both, it’s evident that a bona fide driving enthusiast — those chasing engagement — will favor the Cadillac over the BMW.

The CT4-V Blackwing is the highest-performing variant of the CT4 family, residing above the standard CT4 sedan and the CT4-V sedan in terms of power and capability. While the CT4 and CT4-V are excellent choices for those seeking a sporty compact luxury sedan, the Blackwing elevates performance to a whole new level – it’s a track-focused, smile-generating, driving machine.

Let’s begin with the chassis, whereas Cadillac uses its excellent Alpha platform to underpin the CT4-V Blackwing. The architecture, which is shared with the Chevrolet Camaro and a few other Cadillac sedans, was engineered with high-strength alloys and aluminum, focusing on stiffness and reducing mass. It’s a world-class platform that serves as an excellent foundation for the Blackwing.

In terms of suspension, the Blackwing utilizes GM’s excellent fourth-generation MagneRide dampers and the company’s Performance Traction Management (PTM) driver assistance. An enhanced electronic limited-slip rear differential is also fitted. Standard wheels are 18-inches in diameter wrapped in excellent Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires (255/35-18 front and 275/35-18 rear), and the standard brakes are Brembo units featuring cast iron rotors and multi-piston calipers (6-piston front and 4-piston rear).

Under the hood is a 3.6-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 rated at 472 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque. While a Tremec 6-speed manual is standard (my choice of gearbox), the test vehicle I reviewed was fitted with the optional 10-speed automatic with a torque converter. Rear-wheel drive is standard (while that’s the enthusiast’s choice regarding vehicle dynamics and balance, it does limit outright acceleration off the line). Nevertheless, the published 0-60 mph sprint takes about 3.8 seconds, with the ¼ mile coming up in 12.4 seconds at 116 mph – the Blackwing is plenty quick. And, with a top speed of 189 mph, it’s impressively fast.

Aerodynamics plays a significant role with the CT4-V Blackwing – both with downforce and high-speed stability. In addition to the standard aero upgrades above and beyond the CT4-V, Cadillac offers two unique carbon fiber packages for the Blackwing (depending on the level of performance the owner is seeking). The Carbon Fiber Package #1 includes front dive planes, underwing strakes, extra-arrow front splitter, front-wheel deflectors, and an extra-aero rear spoiler. The Carbon Fiber Package #2 provides rocker extensions and a rear valance diffuser. Gussied-up with both packages, the CT4-V Blackwing appears ready to compete in a racing series.

As expected, Cadillac has also upgraded the interior of the CT4-V Blackwing with a much sportier motif. The cabin is enhanced with suede microfiber accents throughout, and contrasting Torch Red seatbelts are on the options list. In addition, the available high-performance front seats are a must-have – they look great and are very supportive while driving.

Speaking of driving – this is where the CT4-V Blackwing shines. Cadillac equips the sedan with various driver-adjusted settings and drive modes that include Tour, Sport, Snow/Ice, and Track. And within each of those settings are individual configurations for transmission, throttle, suspension, brakes, and steering – it is a bit overwhelming. While there is a time and a place for micro-customization of driving modes, the most uncomplicated adjustment is to push the V-Mode button on the steering wheel. All variable driving settings are instantaneously reconfigured to maximize performance.

Mash the throttle to the floor, and the CT4-V Blackwing blasts off the line with a bit of wheelspin and a nice punch in the backside. There’s a satisfying accompanying roar from the quad exhaust pipes as the 10-speed automatic cracks off each rapid-fire shift. Gear changes are excellent, and passing power is immediate. (I’ll be the first to admit that the Cadillac feels slower than the BMW M3 and its twin-turbocharged inline-6 is smoother than the America’s V6, yet that’s its only advantage in this battle.)

Toss the Blackwing into a corner, and it is phenomenal. The steering is perfectly weighted in hand, and there is generous feedback through the wheel as to the lateral loads and grip of each tire (the M3 feels synthetic in this area). The Cadillac’s chassis hunkers down into each bend, and the MagneRide 4.0 performs its miracles with the individual damping – the Michelin’s contact patches feel glued to the asphalt. There is no unnecessary body roll, unexpected undulations in the suspension, or sloppiness in the chassis. The CT4-V Blackwing is honed to near-perfection.

The chassis balance, transitional handling, and driver feedback through the primary controls are everything — they elevate the Blackwing over the M3 and its other rivals. The Cadillac feels natural and acclimated zipping through twisty canyons, while the BMW M3 feels synthetic and out of its element – these subjective observations are essential to driving enthusiasts (regardless of how the performance numbers appear on paper). The Cadillac’s engine and brakes are exceptional teammates, yet they are more appreciated for their transparency – they deliver 100 percent when called upon. (While I mentioned earlier that the automatic gearbox is my runner-up in terms of transmission choices, the 10AT never let me down during any spirited driving.)

The key ingredient that the Cadillac delivers (and is missing in the BMW) is the connection with the vehicle. The Blackwing drives like a traditional high-power, rear-wheel-drive, sport sedan. It delivers gobs of responsiveness through the steering wheel, the proper resistance on the brake pedal, the right amount of thrust from the accelerator pedal and the expected seat-of-the pants chassis feedback. Meanwhile, the (exceptionally quick) M3 feels false, removed, and synthetic. The Cadillac is simply more fun to play with.

Bonafide driving enthusiasts – those who are seeking the world’s most engaging compact sports sedan – will be smitten with the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing.

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