2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing review: First drive

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This is how I imagined the successor to the HSV GTSR W1 would have been if Holden had still been with us because this mid-size, US executive sedan is the spiritual successor to the most powerful production car ever produced in Australia.

The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is a genuine 200-mile-per-hour missile using the latest version of GM’s 6.2-litre supercharged V8, driving the rear wheels and for a moment it all got a bit nostalgic.

Despite the fact it wears a Cadillac badge, the lineage is strong with HSV’s two decades of tweaking LS engines, and the instant I pressed the start button the familiar sound that kicked the last of HSV’s vehicles into life, fired up the Blackwing.

How much does the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing cost?

Sadly and not surprisingly, the CT5-V Blackwing won’t be available in Australia, through official channels anyway.

In the US, it starts at US$84,990 ($117,736) and climbs to US$125,990 ($174,534) with all the fruit.

That direct conversion puts it in line with the likes of the Audi RS4, BMW M3 and the (soon-to-be-replaced) Mercedes-AMG C63 in terms of pricing, despite the CT5-V Blackwing being closer in size to the Audi RS6, BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 S.

What do you get?

It’s a Cadillac, so expect everything – including Euro levels of interior quality.

The materials, hand stitching, technology and overall lack of creaks and noises means this is possibly the finest interior I’ve experienced in a US-built car.

Previously that might have been an excuse for Europhiles to write off American muscle in favour of a luxury European rival, but no more because the interior quality now sits alongside its blistering performance and magneride adaptive suspension as reasons why the Cadillac is every bit the German bahn-stormer for less money.

Is the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing safe?

It’s loaded with the usual passive safety items you now expect including dual airbags up front, as well as seat-mounted, side impact, knee and head curtain inflators.

On the active safety front it has Cadillac’s SMART package comprising autonomous emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning, forward pedestrian braking and rear park alert.

There’s also tyre pressure monitors and Performance Traction Management which gives the driver graduated steps to control the horsepower through traction, stability and the ABS.

It’s not a blanket nanny that kills all the fun, it’s more a tutor that lets to have a little bit of fun before helping when it detects things are getting a bit too much.

What is the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing like on the inside?

Our test car came with optional leather sports seats which include matching door inserts and rest in one-piece carbon-fibre shells that look great from the outside and feel fine for those in front but creates “The Great Wall of Carbon Fibre” for rear seat passengers and without the handy seatback pockets.

Heated and ventilated with 18-way power adjustable, they’re perfect for long-distances while as 12-inch digital instrument binnacle gives the driver options depending on the car’s drive mode.

It includes tyre pressures, a G-Force meter, boost gauge and depending on whether you have it in Tour, Sport or Track mode, it prioritises the information you need the most and includes a customisable launch control setting.

The 10-inch centre console is identical to the regular CT5 with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with  a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless charging. A 15-speaker AKG stereo replaces the regular Bose unit, though full disclosure, I didn’t try it as I was happy enough with the music from the right foot.

What’s under the bonnet?

Under the skin it’s familiar territory for HSV aficionados, with a supercharged 6.2-litre LT4 V8 that’s an evolution of the 474kW LS9 engine from the HSV W1. It delivers 492kW at 6500rpm and 893Nm from 3600rpm.

GM’s ‘Hydra-Matic 10L80’ 10-speed auto is standard and will make up the bulk of sales, however a Tremac six-speed manual is also available for purists that not only features auto-blip for down-shifts, but also lets you flat change up the gears as well.

How does the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing drive?

Down to business and the CT5-V Blackwing is verging on supercar territory in everything but a sleek two-door body. Don’t let its Clark Kent looks fool you as 100km/h arrives in 3.4 seconds and GM says it will hit 320km/h flat out.

On a private airstrip, our run saw it reach 100km/h in 4.1 seconds, 200km/h six seconds later, and it slipped into eighth gear at 283km/h with two cogs to go.

At 291km/h the piano keys at the end of the strip were looming fast, so it was time to button off with 1190rpm left to climb before reaching peak power.

In Sport or Track modes, the MagneRide switchable dampers give the CT5-V Blackwing a reassuring sharpness to the steering and damping that’s great for country roads and track days, yet reverts to a more Cadillac-like softness for the suburbs when you flick it back to its Tour setting. 

Even using stiffer springs over the old model, along with hollow stabiliser bars and higher-rate bushings, the Blackwing seems to cover more of the overall spectrum than the Europeans which tend to focus on harsher, stiffer settings as a baseline set up.

Around town in Tour mode, it’s as softly sprung as you’d expect an American luxury car to be, soaking up potholes and driveway gutters like it was on air. Yet, flick it into Track mode and the nose sharpens up, the dampers stiffen and front-end grip bites more on turn in, while feeding just the right amount of power to the rear wheels.

The PTM traction system works in unison with the electronic diff which transfers up to 2000Nm of torque to the wheel with the most traction to contain wheelspin and sideways drift, making it elastic when you want it but supportive when you need it.

How much does the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing cost to run?

GM claims the EPA estimate fuel consumption of 21.7L/100km around town for both manual and auto.

The auto is marginally more economical on the highway, returning 12.8L/100km against 13.5L/100km for the manual.

Cadillac covers its vehicles in the US with a four-year, 50,000mi (80,467km) warranty.

CarExpert’s Take on the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

Its badge may be as American as apple pie, but its soul is not far removed from a meat pie on Bathurst day as decades of Aussie V8 development has helped GM make the CT5-V Blackwing the complete Euro-bashing package you see here. 

It’s unapologetic in delivering knock-out levels of performance from what is now GM’s most powerful production engine with direct injection, cylinder deactivation and continuously-variable valve timing differentiating the LT4 from the LS9.

It passes the executive test for comfort and style yet undercuts its Euro competition on price by a handy margin. Now doesn’t that sound familiar?

Yes, this is the spiritual successor to our very own HSV product and sadly it will meet the same fate as Cadillac embraces its EV future – the 2022 Lyriq electric SUV sold out in just 10 minutes when it was announced in September.

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