2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is an American M3

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

A few months ago, I was given the opportunity (while showing a car and judging at the Radnor Hunt Concours) to spend a few days behind the wheel of the 2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing. I had heard about the car before picking it up and had fairly high expectations as I knew it was designed to be directly aimed at the BMW M3. I have a lot of seat time in every version of the current, as well as past, M3 cars, so if the Cadillac was truly this good, I would find out rather quickly.

Meeting the Blackwing

I got to the parking facility at Philadelphia International Airport and saw my bright orange (the factory named Blaze Orange) Cadillac waiting for me. My first impression was that the styling is very DTM like and, yet, still has the Cadillac styling cues in place. The look is aggressive, racecar like, but also sophisticated as one would expect from America’s luxury brand. I immediately noticed the wide wheels, flared fenders, hood bulge and huge Brembo brakes. If the car drove as nice as it looked, it could well be the first car that truly can compete with the M3.

I opened the door and was greeted by a great looking racecar inspired interior with two tone black leather with tan microfiber insert seats with carbon fiber trim, a nice fat rimmed steering wheel, and a 6-speed manual gearbox. I got in and started the car. The sound of the twin-turbocharged DOHC 24-valve aluminum V6 was excellent, again just about as good as performance offerings from the Europeans. I had about 2 hours to kill so I headed off to the Simeone Auto Museum to see what was new there.

I familiarized myself with the Blackwing on the way to the museum, moving through menus that control performance levels and found a happy medium of performance and comfort. The adaptive suspension on the Blackwing is excellent and easily deals with the horrible streets in the Philly area. It can change to full race settings if the car senses you are driving it hard. The gearbox is faultless, pedal placement was also perfect, as were all the ergonomics. This car is definitely a top tier sports sedan and likely the best one ever built in this country.

I picked up my friend and coworker, Allan Davis, at the airport. He had come in to show a 1958 Cadillac Viewmaster at the Radnor Concours, and then we headed to the first event of the weekend. Just to keep everything in the GM family, we were showing the 1958 Cadillac Viewmaster station wagon, a coachbuilt woody wagon that is part of the collection I manage at the Maine Classic Car Museum. Allan was blown away by the car and took an immediate liking to it.

We arrived at the Radnor Hunt Club and in the parking lot ran in to legendary Cadillac designer Kip Wasenko, who went over the Blackwing with me in detail. It was the first one he had seen on the road, he asked how I liked it. I told him that the car seemed to be a strong competitor with the BMW M3 and that so far, I had only praise for it. We discussed the exterior styling and the bright orange car quickly attracted a crowd of car people all with questions. Kip and I answered these and let a number of people get in the car to see what it was like inside. I personally think that the interior styling was as nice as the exterior styling. From behind the wheel it felt like a very special car, with racecar inspired sports seats in very high-quality quilted leather that not only look cool but are also somehow very comfortable. Other features includes a great steering wheel, upmarket buttons, and an Alcantara headliner. A note to other manufacturers, if you are building a high-quality luxury or performance car please make an Alcantara headliner a standard feature. It elevates the interior quite a bit and feels wonderful to the touch. This is an inexpensive feature in the grand scheme of things, however it makes a tremendous difference to the interior of any car. Cadillac did this right and yes, it’s an option, but I would never consider not adding to a car of this caliber.

We all headed into the Club for the Friday BBQ that is a Radnor tradition, and after a fun-filled evening headed back to my hotel for the night. On the way back to the hotel I stopped for gas at a Wawa, inserted my credit card and headed in the store for some snacks. When I went back out I noticed that the parking lot was filled with European and Japanese tuner cars, and that there was a mob of twentysomething guys and girls around the car. As I walked up to the Cadillac someone yelled, “Is this the Blackwing?”

“Yes” I answered.

He then smugly announced to his friends, “See I told you it was the Blackwing. This car is bad a##.”

I spent around 20 minutes with the crowd letting them get into it. Cadillac has hit it right on the nose with the Blackwing cars, as these newcomer enthusiasts were blown away by the car and every single comment was positive. 

I finally got in the car and they wanted me to rev the engine (which I of course did) and made a very aggressive exit from the parking top in full sport mode. I left to the sound of their cheers.

The next morning, I got back into the Blackwing and headed over to the start point of the Radnor Hunt Concours tour. Upon arriving my friend, the head judge for my class, John Lawless asked if I had any room in the car for guests. I said of course and he brought over former motorcycle racer and filmmaker Peter Starr with his son-in-law who would be my companions on the ride. We went through the tour route, only making two or three wrong turns. But due to the traffic it was next to impossible to show Peter what the car was capable of. 

After the final tour spot before lunch, I finally got some open road and was able to open the car up a bit. “Holy crap,” said Peter “this car is amazing. “ 

I agreed as we continued to accelerate down the road. 

As I continued to accelerate in Sport Mode on a long straight bit of road, Peter then spoke the words that made my heartrate immediately climb, “Andy, did you see the cop we just passed?”

I had not seen the police officer and quickly slowed down to a legalish speed, and it should be said that Brembo brakes of the Blackwing are amazing. Happily, the lunch spot was in sight, so I parked the car and hoped to not see any flashing lights in the parking lot. Somehow the car and I escaped unscathed.

After lunch I headed back to the hotel before dinner at Radnor head judge Tim McNair’s house. I had a great time with many good friends and then headed back for the evening.

Sunday, I arrived early at the Club to secure good parking, as this day I was judging motorcycles at the event. 

Sadly, the day started with rain which continued on and off. Despite the weather the turnout for the Concours was impressive and the spectators seemed to not mind standing in the rain all day, with many even staying for the awards ceremony.

Our 1948 Cadillac came away with the Chairman’s award, so the rain did not have a negative effect on us!

I got into the 1948 Cadillac to drive it to the transporter but it would not start. Only three hours before it worked fine for judges, and all was well but no matter what we tried the car would not run.

Happily, this is the collector car hobby which is filled with collector car people, and my friend Harrison Platz saw the trouble I was having. He graciously pulled us to the transporter with his Jeep. This is part of what makes the hobby as great as it is: there are always amazing people who understand the issues with old cars and can help. 

After this ordeal, I was thoroughly soaked. I got into the Blackwing was happy that it had heated seats to help dry me off. The heater helped quite a bit too. Modern cars absolutely have their advantages.

On my drive towards the airport, I reflected on what I thought of the Blackwing. My first thought was that if Cadillac has aimed this at a younger market, then they have nailed it. The car runs as good as it looks and the power at hand, combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox, amazing adjustable suspension, and razor-sharp steering with great feel makes it feel like a DTM racecar in street clothes. The fact that when you switch it to comfort mode you are immediately transported to a plush Cadillac makes it almost two cars in one. The fit and finish is the best I have seen in a GM car and the quality of materials is almost as good as the best the Europeans are offering. 

The one complaint I had was a bit of the interior seemed to not fit in with the luxury feel. The door pockets were made of the typical GM cheap plastic, with a sharp mold mark on the edge and were the single thing I found that brought down the quality from everywhere else. It is a small thing but one that they could fix for $20 per car by covering the stupid plastic door pocket with vinyl. Putting this plastic part, which seems like it came from a base model Chevy Malibu, on a car like the Blackwing is a stupid decision. However, this was my only complaint about the CT4 V-Series Blackwing. It is truly a competitor to European sports sedans and offers a unique take on design within the segment. This is a Cadillac that delivers on all fronts in the high-performance sedan world. It’s not quite the car the 2023 M3 is but it is close, very close.

2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing

Vehicle type: 4-passenger 4 door sedan, rear-wheel drive

Base price: $60,495 Price as tested: $71,535

Engine: twin turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3,564cc  inline-6, 472 hp @ 5750 RMP and 445 lb-ft of torque @ 3500 rpm

0-604.0 seconds

¼ mile: 12.4 seconds

Top Speed: 189 MPH

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Wheelbase: 109.3 inches 

Overall length/width: 187.6 inches / 71.5 inches

Curb weight: 3,851 pounds

EPA mileage estimates: 15 city / 23 highway / 18 combined

Assembled in: Lansing, Michigan, United States