Don’t Put Your Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Away For Winter

By automotive-mag.com 8 Min Read

One of the funniest options available for the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing has no bearing on how it drives. For anywhere between $1,800 and $3,400, Cadillac will ship your car to the dealer in an enclosed container, rather than on an open carrier like any other car. I thought about that a lot while getting this CT4-V Blackwing caked in upstate-New York grime a couple of days after a (disappointingly small) snowstorm.

My policy is generally to let car enthusiasts enjoy cars how they want. But you can’t help but imagine the sort of person who spends that much on enclosed transport for their Blackwing isn’t going to be using the car to its fullest. And this is a car that demands it.

Quick Specs 2024 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing
Engine Twin-Turbo 3.6-Liter V-6
Output 472 Horsepower / 445 Pound-Feet
Transmission 10-Speed Automatic
0-60 MPH 3.9 Seconds
As-Tested Price $75,710

As a brief introduction, the CT4-V Blackwing is Cadillac’s answer to the BMW M3. Four-hundred seventy-two horsepower from a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6, rear-wheel drive, and all the clever chassis hardware and software in GM’s impressive arsenal. It’s available with a six-speed manual or a 10-speed auto—as this one is equipped—and it’s as good on the road as it is a road course. The car’s been out for a few years now, but I’ll take any excuse to drive one, and the opportunity to try it out on winter tires creates some other interesting possibilities. 

For one, it’s fun to drive modern performance cars on less-grippy tires. In stock form, one of these can pitch itself into VIR’s Climbing Esses at close to 140 miles per hour. Now, I’m not the type to try and get mega oversteer on the road because I am a good person, but with winter rubber, you can feel real tire slip beneath you. It’s not only a ton of fun, it helps illuminate the brilliance of this chassis.

It represents the culmination of years of effort from GM. Its rear-wheel drive Alpha platform debuted in 2012 with the CT4’s predecessor, the ATS, and it’s been honed to perfection here. The CT4-V Blackwing is a heavy car at 3,900 pounds, yet it simply doesn’t feel like it at all. It’s firm, but the MagneRide dampers smooth out everything beautifully. Exactly what you want on pockmarked, winter-battered country roads. We may not have gotten much snow, but the streets around here definitely show the signs of winter.

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Pros: Exquisite Chassis, Engaging Despite Its Technology, Daily Usability

What’s so clever about the CT4-V Blackwing is that it’s a radically complicated car that feels organic. Between the dampers, engine controls, ABS, and electronic differential, Cadillac engineers have all sorts of levers to pull to affect driving dynamics. Yet they make a car that feels simple and engaging despite the complexity. 

There are all sorts of driver-adjustable settings, and it ends up being overkill. What I’ve found is that on the road, it’s best to turn the engine up to an angrier setting, while leaving steering and suspension in more comfortable settings. Thankfully you get two user-programmable settings, My Mode and V-Mode, the latter of which is accessible by a handy button on the steering wheel. Brake feel is also adjustable, and in Sport mode, it’s excellent, with a firm, almost immediate bite at the top of the pedal travel.

GM’s Performance Traction Management system is incredible for track driving, but we didn’t mess with it on the road. There’s no real need. And despite the winter tires reducing grip, this Blackwing still flies across the road. This isn’t some skittish, rear-drive monster. It’s friendly, and as quick as you’ll ever need, even on cold, salted pavement.

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The engine is a bit less inspiring than the chassis, even if it’s not wanting for power and throttle response. But blown V-6s rarely sound great, and this is no exception, even if all the burbles on a throttle lift with the exhaust baffles open are very amusing. And while this engine pairs wonderfully with the standard six-speed manual, this 10-speed automatic further robs the car of character. As does many automakers, GM treats its throttle pedals more like a torque-request pedal. Which is fine, and the CT4-V Blackwing always gives the driver what they want when pressing the pedal.

But, GM’s tuning philosophy doesn’t translate well to driving in manual mode here. The best high-performance autos mimic a manual transmission, albeit one that shifts much more quickly. (Dual-clutch transmissions are, essentially, automated manuals.)

For example, a BMW M3’s automatic transmission locks up the torque converter as quickly as possible to provide a more natural, manual-esque feel. If you’re in 4th in an M3, hit the throttle pedal, and revs rise as they would in a manual car. In the CT4-V Blackwing, this doesn’t happen, and the whole thing has more of a mushy feel, like a slipping clutch. This isn’t bad, and it’s certainly not a problem, but it does make the car less engaging. Coupled with so many closely stacked ratios, it feels pointless to use manual mode here in a way that it doesn’t in many rivals.

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Cons: Automatic Saps Fun, Interior Quality Lags Behind Competition, Otherwise—Not Much

I will concede that the gearbox is nice and smooth for slower driving, as you’d expect, but this is one of the clearest cases of “get the manual if you’re able.” The Tremec TR6060 is one of the world’s great gearboxes, and it works wonderfully with the CT4-V Blackwing’s V-6. 

But the transmission is beside the point I’m trying to make here. It doesn’t change the fact that in the dead of winter, the CT4-V Blackwing works phenomenally well, and it makes these dreary months that much more bearable. 

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I suspect a lot of buyers might not use their cars in winter. Certainly not those ticking the box for enclosed shipping. They might see a collectible, and that’s fair—especially if Cadillac’s previous proclamation on this being its last internal-combustion sports sedan sticks—but I see one of the finest driver’s cars going. The weather shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying that.

If you’re worried about the salt, just hit the car wash on the way home.

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Photography by DW Burnett

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