Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing: The Fastest Caddy Ever

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Powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged V8, the CT5-V Blackwing tops 200 mph. It’s also the last internal-combustion sedan Cadillac will produce before going all electric. Dan Neil harnesses its power.

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A well-nigh perfect clutch pedal, too—hefty, nice throw, short uptake, very smooth. You want burnouts? Fleet operations, signal the task force to commence smokescreen operations.

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The alternative is GM’s in-house developed 10-speed automatic, with paddle-shifters for manual mode. I haven’t driven a Blackwing so equipped, but I expect it’s pretty different. With so many gear ratios, so closely packed, and seamless auto-shifting among them, that car’s telemetry would graph in smooth continuous traces.

Whereas in three-pedal versions like our test car, the Blackwing’s hilarious, tromboning insanity comes in jagged peaks above the X-axis, between chasms of imperfect, human-in-the-loop gear shifts. This engine, oy! It’s a revver. A couple of times on the first day I was upshifting late and hit the fuel cutoff between 3rd and 4rd gear, leaving the engine hung up and stammering in rage. Certainly one of my clumsier felonies.

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Letting the huge V8 coast down from high revs coaxes from it a snapping, splintering decrescendo, a dark and satisfying sound, like burning barrels tumbling down a cliff into your boat mechanic’s condo.

The Blackwing features a three-mode exhaust silencer, if you want to call it that, corresponding to the Tour, Sport and Track drive modes.

Some readers may wonder why I, an advocate for vehicle electrification, would glorify this swish antique, with its dystopian 13/21 mpg, city/highway. Well, I drove it around the block and it made me feel like Batman.

It does help knowing that the Blackwing will be the last Cadillac sedan to feature an internal combustion engine, the flagship of a sinking fleet. The brand’s portfolio will be fully electric by the end of this decade, starting with the Lyriq SUV this summer.

It’s also the case that these expensive, highly strung collectibles will rack up fewer miles and comparatively lower emissions than ordinary cars. After all, they don’t burn gas sitting in the police impound lot.

Go ahead, call it a rich guy’s adrenaline pump, a rude toy, prima facie evidence of moral vagrancy, a desperate bid for validation reflecting a worldview of soulless materialism and flagging masculinity. I won’t stop you.

But, man, the Blackwing is one fun car, Zeus in a business suit. Goodness. If Cadillac had made this car 20 years ago I’d just be getting out of prison by now.

The weathermaker is GM’s mighty 6.2-liter, overhead-valve V8, dressed to the hilt with a 1.7-liter supercharger, titanium intake valves, forged aluminum pistons and tubular exhaust manifolds. Yeah, the NASCAR way. Thus blueprinted and running a maximum boost set at 10 psi, the V8 blows up a storm, generating 659 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm before maxing out at 668 hp at 6,600 rpm. The second half of the tach gets pretty lurid and lathery.

The track-hardened Blackwing also receives an engine oiling upgrade and additional cooling for the gearbox and the magical rear diff.

The Cadillac is at a disadvantage to AWD competitors off the line, EV or otherwise, which can put more initial torque to the ground. The relevant Tesla Model S Plaid quantum-tunnels to 60 mph in about 2 seconds. The manual-equipped Blackwing can only muster a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds. And yet it turns out anything close to that is enough to start an evening-ending argument with your spouse about your driving.

My advice: Don’t let it go. On the way home, suggest a -mile detour. It will only take 11.3 seconds, says Cadillac. Keep gittin’ down that road and you will arrive at the Blackwing’s official top speed of more than 200 mph, making it the fastest Cadillac evah! Enjoy your evening.

The Blackwing’s optional aero packages add a long list of exterior refinements to increase high-speed stability and cooling, most executed in glassy carbon fiber. Let’s trust that all works as advertised. Two hundred mph is a huge number.

The Blackwing’s roadholding is masterminded by the latest version of GM’s chassis-dynamics singularity, managing the reflexes of traction, stability/yaw and braking control, the variable-rate electronic power steering and—most eerily, most hand-of-Godlike—the generationally improved Magnetic Ride Control 4.0. Among other things, these adaptive/reactive dampers work to keep the car body stable in transient and high-load cornering, which in turn helps get the most out of its 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires—in excess of 1 G of lateral acceleration, says GM.

The fancy dampers also secure for the Blackwing a strangely plush ride quality in the softest setting, the Tour mode, especially considering the scantily-clad aluminum wheels.

Other tasting notes: The Blackwing’s next-level dampers work especially well when paired with the available, but horribly expensive ($9,000), Brembo carbon-ceramic brake package, including vast 15.7-inch front rotors with six-pot calipers. These binders represent a 53-pound reduction in what’s called unsprung mass (that is, everything outboard of suspension’s springs). Fifty-three pounds is pretty transmogrifying, chassis-tuning wise.

No one should look at the Blackwing’s six-shooter and think it’s the last of the traditional manual transmissions. Hardly. Among the modernizations: automatic rev-matching function during downshifts, so that every downshift sounds like Mario Andretti is in the house. Another Easy-Bake feature is the no-lift upshifting function, so you can keep the throttle open as you treadle the clutch. Kewl.

The only knock against the manual transmission might be that—due to the few and far-spaced gear ratios, combined with the engine’s effectively flat torque curve—the car doesn’t offer many gear-jamming opportunities on this side of incarceration.

Honestly, the Blackwing could have a three-on-the-tree and it would still be more fun than the law allows.

2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

Base price: $83,995

Price, as tested: $100,615

Powertrain: Supercharged 6.2-liter OHV V8 with direct fuel injection and variable valve timing; six-speed manual transmission with available rev-matching function; rear-wheel drive with electronically controlled limited-slip differential

Maximum power/torque: 668 hp at 6,500 rpm/659 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm

0-60 mph: 3.6 seconds (manual transmission)

Length/wheelbase/width/height: 194.9/116.0/74.1/56.5 inches

Curb weight: 4,123 pounds

Top speed: 200+ mph

EPA fuel economy: 13/21 mpg, city/highway

Cargo volume: 11.9 cubic feet


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