Car and driver recently released their Lightning Lap results for 2022. For those unfamiliar with this test, it collects some of the best performing cars and SUVs on sale to find out which one is fastest on a race track.
The usual contenders, such as Porsche’s 911 GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, were in attendance. Just like super sedans like the BMW M5 CS and Cadillac’s Blackwing cars. One car that took part in the test, the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, had an off-track incident that caused some damage. That revealed something very interesting about the vehicle.
Let’s talk about the CT4-V Blackwing, the crash and what it means to you if you buy one.
Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap, how it works
Every year Car and driver takes a bunch of powerful vehicles to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) for a multi-day test. The goal is to determine the fastest, sharpest and best performing machines.
Engineers from the manufacturer will be present on all participating cars, who will prepare them in perfect condition. They also come with spare parts, such as brakes and multiple sets of tires. In 2022, only BMW failed to bring extra tires. Those cars got less time on the track than the others.
In the case of the Cadillac, the engineers are on hand to troubleshoot, make repairs and make sure the car performs at its best.
Multiple Car and driver journalists drive the cars for three days to get the best lap time. Handling, braking and overall driving experience are noted, giving an overview of how the car performs on a race track.
The Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Incident
According to Car and driverHere’s what happened: “After we went in a little hot and missed the engagement point, the CT4-V Blackwing went down a sinister slide down the hill that ended in the grass, where a firm right-hand front suspension folded up like a taco. The damage was greater than the Cadillac engineers could repair on the spot.”
Essentially, the driver of the CT4-V Blackwing misjudged the speed and line entering the corner. As a result, the car lost traction. That loss of traction allowed the Caddy to slide off the track into the grass. The wheel then dug into the dirt and eventually bent the suspension.
Fortunately no one was injured.
Car and Driver’s seemingly contradictory statement reveals a lot about the CT4-V Blackwing
Car and driver go on to describe the CT4-V Blackwing as follows: “Mistakes erode confidence, even when it’s not the car’s fault. The smaller Blackwing is a track star with rich feedback and safe handling. Of course, if you go straight from a 911 GT3 to the Cadillac, the sedan’s response feels relatively sluggish, which can lead to a late corner. But that’s not the car’s problem. Even with a second driver behind the wheel, we couldn’t commit to taking the Esses as Cadillac assured us it was possible.”
There’s a lot to unpack in this statement, so let’s dive right in.
First, when you have a collision, even if it’s a minor one, it can damage confidence in yourself and the car. Especially if you don’t understand what the problem is. That lack of confidence in the car and your own driving style causes you to slow down.
Car and driver are quick to say that a lack of confidence is not the fault of the car. Later in the same section, they say a second driver could not muster the confidence needed to take the Esses off the track as quickly as Cadillac says it can. That is in every way the fault of the car. The fact that both drivers lacked confidence in speeding the CT4-V Blackwing suggests it is a difficult car to get a feel for.
Ultimately, all driver decisions are made using the information provided by the car. From braking to cornering to how fast you can accelerate, it all depends on how the car communicates with the driver in a way they can use.
The statement claims that the Caddy has rich feedback and safe operation. But that it also feels relatively slow and not confidence-inspiring enough to drive fast. That contradiction, safe driving but not confidence inspiring, means that the car does not do its job. That job is to pass on information to the driver. This affects confidence and is an inherent characteristic of the vehicle.
The car has the potential to go faster, in this case through VIR’s Essess, but that potential cannot be realized. This is because the CT4-V does not communicate well enough with the driver.
What does this mean for real owners of the CT4-V Blackwing?
Car and driver experience with the CT4-V Blackwing suggests that it takes some time to get the hang of the car. It’s not as intuitive or communicative as some of its rivals, such as the BMW M3. This means that the average driver needs more time to learn to drive quickly.
This problem is not present during daily driving. You don’t and should never drive as fast as you would on a race track, so the speed and quality of the information you get from the car is less critical.
The tangible conclusion is this: the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is incredibly capable and extremely fast, but it is let down by not providing the driver with enough high-resolution information. As a result, the driver does not have the confidence to drive the CT4-V Blackwing as fast as possible. This is an area that Cadillac’s rivals have mastered. It will be something GM’s engineers will have to improve upon if they want to win next year’s Lightning Lap.
Related: The 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Is A BMW M3 On A Budget