Being able to sample handfuls of new cars is fun on its own, but the real joy in this now-weekly exercise is, for me, being able to share them with others. Some cars are more special than others for whatever reason – and when the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing was added to my review schedule, I knew it’d be a fun seven days. Then I looked at the dates a little closer and realized the Blackwing had been scheduled over our Spring trackcross weekend at Summit Point.
Would they… no. Maybe. Hmm. I emailed Cadillac back, explained that by sheer coincidence of calendars aligning I had both their 668 horsepower sedan and an entire racetrack circuit booked at the same time, and asked if I could drive one around the other as part of my review. “I’d ask that you keep the speed at a reasonable level, and no drifting or burnouts,” was the response I got. Given Cadillac’s interest in my safety, their Blackwing looking like a Blackwing after my time with it, and the 305 mm tires being useful for the next loan, that seemed reasonable.
What Is It?
This is a 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing. The CT5 replaced the CTS in Cadillac’s lineup and normally comes with a drivetrain for reasonable people. Picking the Blackwing, though, indicates you are not a reasonable people. Cadillac tosses any other engine out for a 6.2-liter V8 that happens to have an Eaton supercharger bolted to it. The supercharger can move 1.7 liters of air on its own, and the whole thing makes the aforementioned 668 horsepower and 659 lb-ft of torque.
Power flows to your choice (!) of a six-speed Tremec manual transmission or a 10-speed torque converter automatic. The automatic will shift faster, but the “end of an era” manual is how my test car was equipped, and the car is better for it. Power goes to only the rear wheels – delightful in a time of everyone needing all-wheel drive in case it rains three towns over – and is managed by an electronically-controlled limited slip differential.
Cadillac employs the fourth version of GM’s Magnetic Ride Control on the CT5-V Blackwing, said to respond four times faster than the prior generation and provide a more consistent transition from compression to rebound or vice versa.
Turning and stopping are handled by some serious hardware at each corner. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires wrap around staggered 19-inch wheels, with 275 mm tires up front and huge 305s out back. “Huge” continues with the brakes. Front rotors are nearly 16 inches in diameter (15.7″) – larger than the standard wheels on the first two generations of Mazda Miata – and rear rotors are only an inch smaller. Brembo calipers use six pistons up front and four out back to clamp down and rein in your fun. Carbon ceramics are optional and will save 53 pounds of unsprung weight, if that matters to you.
MSRP of the big bad Cad came in at $93,260 – and they only get more expensive from there. My test car was relatively light on options, though I thought it had everything I would care about, including massaging front seats.
Street Driving the 2022 Cadillac CT-5V Blackwing
Looking past the bright blue paint, the CT5-V Blackwing does a remarkably good job at being a normal sedan for normal tasks. Leaving the drive mode in Tour kept the ride quality comfortable – yet incredibly composed over bumps and heaves that upset most cars’ balance – and the exhaust quiet. Well, relatively quiet. It’ll still set off car alarms in parking garages, as proven by the Toyota Matrix that had a conniption fit because I dared to park nearby.
The manual is agreeable and easy to drive day to day, paired to a clutch that is appropriate levels of weighty for the power and torque you’re controlling. And honestly, the 6.2 makes enough of both that you can pick a gear and cruise pretty easily, with speed increases handled more by the supercharger than the need to downshift and wail on it.
Of course, you will wail on it because that’s what you do when you have a supercharged V8. Every tunnel and every off-ramp are opportunities to heel-toe and make the exhaust – opened up, of course – sing loudly. It’ll overpower the very-good AKG sound system, though you’ll never hear much out of the supercharger. That privilege is reserved for people outside the car.
Track Driving the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing
The first day of our two-day trackcross saw rain, rain, rain. I still took the Blackwing out for some laps at a reasonable pace, employing the “Wet” mode of Cadillac’s Performance Traction Management software to keep things in check. PTM does a great job at correcting for your inputs and the conditions, grabbing brakes at each corner and pulling timing (or what felt like pulling timing) to keep you mostly straight. It’ll still let you go unintentionally sideways, but just a little bit, if you dip too far into the throttle on corner exit.
Sunday, thankfully, was very dry. With all of my drivers in for lunch, I donned my helmet yet again and turned the PTM dial to “Race 1,” despite the car not being a race car and there being nobody else on the track. I ran a few laps at a slow pace to feel out the car, and then I went for it, safely and at a reasonable level.
Wow, wow, wow.
Look, the “big Blackwing” is indeed a big car. Everything is, these days. BMW’s M3 is similar in size and only weighs a bit less. If you want the most nimble Cadillac for track duty, the smaller CT4-V Blackwing may be more your speed. But working with the CT5-V Blackwing to hustle around Summit Point’s Jefferson circuit demonstrated how the right hardware and software can make something large shrink around you and come alive.
Power is, of course, never a problem. The supercharger builds boost progressively, so it’s easy to keep the rear of the car contained. I turned automatic rev-matching back on here, which again made life easier than blipping the well-spaced pedals myself. Brakes provided solid bite and good feel throughout the pedal when cold, and only got better after getting them up to temp. Steering was accurate and appropriately weighted.
Friend and professional racer Tom O’Gorman rode with me for a lap and commented on how, unlike a C8 Chevrolet Corvette we’d both driven, the CT5-V Blackwing never seems to settle down as you connect turns with straightaways. It’s less of a scalpel and more of a sledgehammer, both of which can be used to get around a racetrack but in very different ways. The Corvette is poised, the Blackwing is here to party. It is more of a handful, but it’s got a ton of personality as a result. And it’s truly, honestly good on track despite the eager puppy-dog approach to lapping.
Sharing the Blackwing With Others
We had 62 registered drivers at our trackcross, and naturally, others came to spectate, get rides, and serve as crew for some drivers. I used the Blackwing as a “sighting lap car,” leading each drive group for a few laps around the track at 30ish miles per hour so drivers knew our chosen layout, given we ran four throughout the weekend. We had the Cadillac full on every single lap. Everyone wanted a ride, even if those rides weren’t especially fast or thrilling.
I also stopped by a few friends’ homes before and after the track weekend so they could experience the car. Again, everyone wanted a ride, even if it was just for a few minutes through first and second gear.
The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is a tremendously special car. There are other fast sports sedans, especially from the Germans, but none of them are intentionally built to be so raucous and so old-school at their core. The intent of Cadillac’s engineers is clear – go fast, be refined, be modern, but don’t be boring. And a lot of enthusiasts got seat time with a car they may never see in-person again.
I put 470 miles on the CT5-V Blackwing in the week we shared. They were costly miles, between current premium fuel prices and my heavy right foot. I didn’t care what they cost. Every mile in this car was worth it, because every mile was grin-inducing. Yes, even the miles where I was exhausted from hosting an event and just wanted a hot shower at the hotel. To an enthusiast, there may be no greater reward from a car than what it makes you feel when you approach it or walk away from it after spending time behind the wheel.
This one’s good.