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First Drive

Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing review: America’s answer to the M5

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Published: 02 Dec 2021
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What am I looking at?

This is the mighty Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, America’s answer to the BMW M5 that’s shot-through with enough flamboyance and fanfare to make the Beemer look a bit… straight-laced. It’s a supercharged V8-powered, rear-wheel drive, front-engine super-saloon and the last ever pure-petrol-powered model (along with its twin-turbo V6-powered smaller sibling, the CT4-V Blackwing) to come from Cadillac’s skunkworks Blackwing sub-brand. From now on it’ll be e-assisted Blackwings only. All together now… Booooooo. 

Let’s skip straight to the engine, shall we?

As you wish. It’s packing a 6.2-litre supercharged V8, nothing fancy, just 668bhp, 659lb ft of torque, a 205mph top speed, 0-60mph in 3.7s and the type of filthy, dirty noise that would never, ever get old. Those power and torque figures comfortably eclipse the 626bhp/553lb ft BMW M5 CS by the way with its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, as does the top speed – 16mph more than the electronically-limited CS. And the M5 CS costs £140k… the CT5-V doesn’t. More on that in a bit. 

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The engine is GM’s LT4 unit that’s previously been put to work in the C7 Corvette Z06 and the Camaro ZL1, and it’s an absolute rip-snorter of a unit. It bursts with torque, rips through the gears and sounds like all your gargly V8 fantasies rolled into one. It’s utterly mesmerising and couldn’t feel anymore quintessentially American if it ran on cheeseburgers and milkshakes.   

Auto-only I presume?

Not so fast! Because the Blackwing’s knockout blow to the M5 might well be the fact that you can order one with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, and a 10-speed auto as a $2,275 option. But the manual is the one you want. The shift is notchy, so needs some proper force, but there’s zero slack in the gate and a couple of party pieces to play with: a no-lift function, so you can keep your foot buried and just slam up through the ratios, and an auto blip mode to make you look like a heel and toe god.

OK, guessing it falls over a bit in the corners then?

Not a bit of it. While the CT5-V is designed to be more softly sprung than its little brother the CT4-V, it’s no barge. The front-end grip is huge, body roll is well contained and of course you can bring the rear around with a toe poke whenever you feel the need. Or flambée a set of tyres in minutes if you’ve got shares in KwikFit.

It’s everything we love about big, heavy, overpowered saloons – it’s a brute, but with an underlying delicacy to the way it moves that suggests this car has been set up properly by people who care. MagneRide switchable dampers gives it a breadth of character, so it can do the slog home from the track in total comfort, and the brakes (steel Brembo discs as standard, carbon-ceramics on request) are more than up to the job of clawing this near 1,900kg saloon back to sane speeds for the next bend.

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What can you tell us about the styling?

That I like it, a lot? Maybe it’s because my European eyes aren’t used to seeing Cadillacs, but I’m definitely more into this than an M5, which is just too anonymous for me. To be fair our test car was in electric blue, which helps, but there’s just the right amount of angry in the face, and the carbon front splitter and boot-lip spoiler tread just the right side of flashy.

All the trim is blacked out of course, there’s a Hofmeister kink with a flourish, the four tailpipes hiding in the shadows are suitably wide, and for anyone thinking American interiors aren't up to European quality standard… well the CT5-V would like a word.

Go on then, how much?

It starts from around $87,000 - which is around £64,000. When you consider the BMW M5 Competition costs over £100k, and the full-fat CS costs more like £140k, that’s ridiculous value. Unfortunately, it won’t be sold in the UK, but to have one of these I’d recommend just moving to America. The weather’s much nicer.

Photography: DW Burnett

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