A CADILLAC from 2022 CT5-V Blackwing landed at my house a few weeks ago, with clouds of compensation papers and releases. Cadillac wanted me to know that the gutter, reptilian super sedan in my possession would be monitored at all times via the built-in Performance Data Recorder, so don’t do anything stupid. That narrowed my options.
This maximum-effort version of the CT5 sports sedan is sometimes referred to as a four-door Chevrolet Corvette because of its stormy engine, a 6.2-liter supercharged V8; and because it offers enthusiasts a six-speed manual transmission, with heavy-duty clutch, short-throw shifter and three pedals.
An almost perfect clutch pedal too – hefty, nice throw, short take-up, very smooth. Do you want burnout? Fleet operations, signal the task force to begin smoke screen operations.
The alternative is GM’s in-house developed 10-speed automatic transmission, with paddle-shifters for manual mode. I haven’t ridden a Blackwing equipped like this yet, but I expect it to be very different. With so many gear ratios packed so closely together and seamlessly auto-shifting between them, that car’s telemetry would be rendered in smooth, continuous traces.
While in three-pedal versions like our test car, the Blackwing’s hilarious, trombonist frenzy comes in jagged peaks above the X-axis, between fissures of imperfect, man-in-the-loop gear sticks. This engine, oh! It’s a rev. A few times on the first day, I shifted up late and hit the fuel cutoff between 3rd and 4th gear, causing the engine to stall and stammer with rage. Definitely one of my more inconvenient crimes.
“The Blackwing is a nice car, Zeus in a suit.”
Sliding the huge V8 down from high revs produces a crackling, shattering decrescendo, a dark and satisfying sound, like burning barrels tumbling off a cliff to your boat mechanic’s apartment.
The Blackwing is equipped with a three-position muffler, if you want to call it that, corresponding to the Tour, Sport and Track riding modes.
Some readers may wonder why I, a proponent of auto electrification, would glorify this swine antique, with its dystopian 13/21 mpg, city/highway. Well, I drove around the block and I felt like Batman.
It helps to know that the Blackwing will be the last Cadillac sedan with an internal combustion engine, the flagship of a sinking fleet. The brand’s portfolio will be all-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 relatively lower emissions than regular cars. After all, they don’t burn gas while they’re on police grounds.
Go ahead, call it a rich guy’s adrenaline pump, a rude toy, prima facie evidence of moral vagabondage, a desperate attempt at validation that reflects a worldview of soulless materialism and fluttering masculinity. I won’t stop you.
But man, the Blackwing is a nice car, Zeus in a suit. Goodness. If Cadillac had made this car 20 years ago, I would have just got out of prison now.
The weathermaker is GM’s mighty 6.2-liter overhead valve V8, dressed to the max with a 1.7-liter supercharger, titanium intake valves, forged aluminum pistons and tubular exhaust manifolds. Yes, the NASCAR way. So blue-printed and with a max boost of 10 psi, the V8 blows up a storm, generating 659 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm before hitting a maximum of 668 horsepower at 6,600 rpm. The second half of the tach gets pretty grim and foamy.
The track-hardened Blackwing also gets an engine oil upgrade and additional cooling for the gearbox and magical rear diff.
The Cadillac is at a disadvantage against AWD competitors off-the-line, EV or otherwise, which can bring more initial torque to the ground. The relevant Tesla Model S Plaid quantum tunnels to 60 mph in about 2 seconds. The manually equipped Blackwing can only manage a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds. And yet, it turns out that anything close to that is enough to start an evening-long argument with your partner about your driving style.
My advice: don’t let it go. Suggest a mile detour on your way home. It only takes 11.3 seconds, Cadillac says. Keep going down that road and you’ll hit the Blackwing’s official top speed of over 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 stability and high-speed cooling, most done in glassy carbon fiber. Let’s trust that everything works as advertised. Two hundred mph is a huge number.
The Blackwing’s handling is defined by the latest iteration of GM’s unique chassis dynamics, which combine the traction, stability/yaw and brake control reflexes, the variable speed electronic power steering and – the creepiest, most hand-of-God-esque – the generations masters improved Magnetic Ride Control 4.0. Among other things, these adaptive/reactive dampers ensure that the body remains stable in short-lived and heavily loaded corners, which in turn helps to get the most out of the 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires – more than 1 G lateral acceleration, says GM.
The fancy dampers also ensure the Blackwing has an oddly plush ride quality in the softest environment, Tour mode, especially given the scantily clad aluminum wheels.
Other tasting notes: Blackwing’s next-level dampers work especially well with the available, but horribly expensive ($9,000) Brembo carbon-ceramic brake package, which includes huge 15.7-inch front rotors with six-pot calipers. These binders represent a 53-pound reduction in so-called unsprung mass (that is, everything outside of the suspension springs). Fifty-three pounds is quite transmogrifying, chassis tuning.
No one should look at the Blackwing’s six-shooter and think it’s the last of the traditional manual transmissions. Barely. Among the upgrades: automatic rev-matching function during downshifts, so that every downshift sounds like Mario Andretti is in the house. Another Easy-Bake feature is the lift-less upshift, so you can keep the accelerator open while you depress the clutch. Keil.
Perhaps the only knock on the manual transmission is that – due to the sparse and widely spaced gear ratios, combined with the engine’s effectively flat torque curve – the car doesn’t offer many gearing problems on this side of confinement.
Honestly, the Blackwing could have a three-on-the-boom and it would still be nicer than the law allows.
2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing
Base price: $83,995
Price, as tested: $100,615
Drivetrain: 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 differential lock
Maximum power/torque: 668 hp at 6,500 rpm/659 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm
0-60mph: 3.6 seconds (manual gearbox)
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
Freight volume: 11.9 cubic feet
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