Edmunds: battle between Cadillac CT4-Blackwing and BMW M3 sports sedan

The best luxury sports sedans have historically come from European automakers. But there is one American brand that is not yet ready to completely relinquish control: Cadillac. The recently launched CT4-V Blackwing has a host of upgrades over the regular CT4 small sedan, including a beefier engine, sharper handling, more grip and distinctive styling.

You’d be hard pressed to find a more suitable rival than BMW’s M3, which has been a fixture in the German brand’s line-up for decades. It also has numerous upgrades over a regular 3 Series to significantly improve performance. Which sedan is right for you? Edmunds compared them to find out.

POWER AND PERFORMANCE

Powered by a 3.6-liter turbocharged V6 with 472 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque, the Blackwing can rip from zero to 60 in a manufacturer-touted 3.9 seconds when equipped with its optional automatic transmission. A manual transmission is standard for the true wheel drive CT4-V Blackwing. While choosing it results in slower maximum acceleration than the automatic, it significantly increases driver engagement. Step on the brakes and the saloon stops with precision and smooth smoothness.

BMW does not back down with its M3. Under the hood is a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produces 473 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque in the base model or 503 hp and 479 lb-ft in the upgraded Competition model. You can get a manual transmission with the base M3, but the Competition is automatic only. BMW’s M3 is more capable of shutting down the power thanks to the available all-wheel drive; with it, says BMW, the M3 Competition rips to 100 km / h in just 3.4 seconds.

When cornering, both sport sedans offer heroic levels of grip and poise. Still, it’s the CT4-V Blackwing that’s ultimately more satisfying to drive. The controls are more lively and communicative, giving the Blackwing a more memorable personality than the M3.

Winner: CT4-V Blackwing

INTERIOR AND TECHNOLOGY

Inside the CT4-V, the top-of-the-line version of Cadillac’s CT4 small luxury sedan, ultra-comfortable seats are top billing along with an uncomplicated 8-inch center touchscreen. Wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto are standard, as is a well-designed native navigation system. Cargo space is on the cramped side, however, with a trunk holding just 10.7 cubic feet.

The M3’s cargo area is more generous, offering 13 cubic feet of space. Small storage spaces are also plentiful in the BMW, with a large center storage bin and above-average door pockets. BMW’s M3 has folding rear seats, which gives it another advantage. Like the CT4-V Blackwing, the M3 comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto displayed on a new-for-2023 14.9-inch touchscreen. The BMW also offers 2.2 inches more rear legroom than the Cadillac.

Winner: M3

COMFORT

The CT4-V Blackwing has plush and supportive front seats. By adding the available climate package, the front seats are also equipped with ventilation and massage functions. A standard adjustable suspension that continuously adapts to the road surface provides a comfortable ride for a sports sedan, adding to the luxurious feel befitting the brand. Wind and road noise are also minimal, making this an easy performance car to live with.

The M3 dampens wind and road noise to a satisfactory level, but it’s not quite as quiet as the Blackwing if you just want a comfortable highway cruiser. The same goes for the suspension. It’s also adaptive, but it tends to be a little firmer to ride than the Blackwing’s. Inside, the M3 Edmunds tested had the optional carbon fiber front seats. These have thick side bolsters that are great for keeping you in place on a race track, but they reduce the comfort and ease of entry and exit.

Winner: CT4-V Blackwing

FEATURES AND VALUE

Cadillac built a lot of value into this four-door car. A base CT4-V Blackwing starts around $61,000 and comes equipped with Brembo brakes and adaptive suspension dampers, among other performance features. It stands up well against the competition.

Starting at $73,795, the M3 can be luxuriously equipped, but you pay for it. Even a loaded Blackwing works out to about the same price as a base BMW M3. Go for a top-of-the-line four-wheel drive M3 Competition in a nicer paint color, throw in a few option packs and you’re looking at a small sedan at nearly $90,000.

Winner: CT4-V Blackwing

EDMUNDS SAYS:

The BMW M3 is still the benchmark for the class by most standards. It is faster and better equipped with the latest technical gadgets than the Cadillac. But it loses points in the more emotional aspects of the sports sedan experience. Factor in the superior value of the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and you’ve got yourself a winner for the hometown team.

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This story was provided to The Associated Press by the car website Edmunds.

Kristin Shaw is a freelance writer at Edmunds and is on Twitter.

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