CHATHAM, Mass – After a week in an electric-blue 2023 Cadillac CT4 V-Series Blackwing, I now know what is like to drive a (real-life) Hot Wheels® car.
According to Mattel’s media website, the iconic miniature die-cast vehicles were “designed to revolutionize toy vehicles by “looking cooler and performing better than the competition.” Based on how the four-door Blackwing both performed and appeared, it appears Cadillac had the same goals when it conceived this subcompact sedan.
An impressive powertrain
Unique among the CT4 V-Series models, the Blackwing features a 3.6-liter, double overhead cam V-6 turbocharged aluminum (block and cylinder head) engine (lesser models having engines based upon a four-cylinder design) producing 472 horsepower and 445 pounds-feet of torque.
The premium-fueled beast puts its power to the rear wheels through an (optional, $2,275) 10-speed automatic transmission and can hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in less than four seconds (according to Cadillac’s figures, the standard six-speed manual can make this burst in just over four seconds).
Cadillac’s attention to powertrain (and aerodynamic) details is evident by the CT4’s performance as well as its fuel economy. I ended my exhilarating week behind the wheel having achieved almost 24 miles per gallon in heavy-footed driving, with no regard to stretching the miles between gas-station visits. (The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates this Cadillac at 19 mpg overall, 16 urban, 24 highway.)
Harnessing the power
As my grandson tells me, “I like Hot Wheels cars because they go fast.” Very true of the CT4 V-Series Blackwing, but performance in the modern automotive world means as much about how a vehicle handles and stops as its ability to go from 0-60. The Cadillac has been engineered to these things with aplomb.
The track-tuned suspension includes MacPherson-type struts with cross-axis dual lower ball joints, ZF MVS passive dampers and direct-acting hollower stabilizer bar up front; five-link independent; coil springs with ZF MVS passive dampers and hollow stabilizer bar at the rear, and Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 on both ends.
Further aiding control is an electronic limited slip (with aluminum housing and cooler) rear differential.
The four-wheel disc brake system with anti-lock (ABS) features Brembo® staggered six-piston calipers (front) and four-piston ones (rear, blue on the test vehicle) and high-performance copper-free brake linings.
The ventilated rotors, 14.96-inches up front and 13.4 in the rear, operate inside the (optional, $1,500) 18-inch aluminum wheels with tech-bronze finish wearing MICHELIN® Pilot® Sport 4S summer-only performance tires (P255/35ZR18 up front, P275/35ZR18s in the rear).
All these pieces add up to a thrilling car to drive. The ride can be a bit stiff and choppy at slow speeds on uneven, less-than-smooth pavement, but not so much as to be uncomfortable.
Steering is very direct, controlled, not at all sloppy; this car goes where you want it to go, and does so quickly and confidently. And like the well-engineered performance car it is, it always seems to want to go even faster.
Words like soft, unconnected, imprecise described historic Cadillac ride, steering and handling attributes; these are no longer apropos. This was definitely NOT my father’s Sedan de Ville!
A full complement of ADAS compliments CT4’s performance
The test vehicle was filled with a full complement of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) starting with the standard Cadillac SMART System which includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), forward-collision alert, front-pedestrian braking, safety-alert seat (haptic), rear-park assist and rear-vision camera.
Other standard ADAS include following-distance indicator, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, lane-change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert and IntelliBeam automatic high beams.
The test car added the (optional, $900) driver assist package with adaptive cruise control, enhanced AEB and reverse automatic braking.
Inside, luxury meets performance
Inside the CT4 V-Series Blackwing the features and amenities equaled those of comparable luxury vehicles, while the fittings were worthy of the car’s performance attributes.
The 18-way power-adjustable seats featured an (optional, $4,900) natural tan leather with jet black accents were snug, holding driver and passenger in place during spirited driving, as well as being comfortable (aided by adjustable thigh support). The package also includes sueded microfiber-wrapped interior trim, further evoking a luxury feel for the cabin.
The seats and steering wheel are heated, as usually found in cars of this luxury level. In addition, thanks to the (optional, $600) climate package, the front seats also have a power-massage feature and ventilation.
A dual-zone automatic climate-control system further helps fight any outside weather issues, but when the time is right to let in the sun, the (optional, $1.050) sunroof helps do the trick.
Technology features are found throughout the interior of the CT4 including an infotainment system controlled through an eight-inch display complete with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, satellite radio, and hands-free operation through voice commands.
The (optional, $725) technology package brings an air ionizer but, more importantly, a heads-up display (which is simply operated thanks to three buttons on the left side of the dash – most vehicle HUDs make you search through a series of display screens to find their settings).
Numerous USB ports, wireless mobile-device charging and excellent lighting add to the CT4 V-Series Blackwing’s luxury credentials.
Luxury, performance that can compete
The Blackwing sits atop the CT4 range, bringing a modern Cadillac combination of luxury and track-proven performance to the subcompact segment. Its $60,495 base price and $76, 860 as-tested price (including $1,395 destination charge and $14,770 in significant options) keep it in line with the best of the German, Japanese and Korean competitors.
If you want to show up at the Club or the gym or just the local grocery store in a set of really Hot Wheels, you cannot do much better than the 2023 Cadillac CT4 V-Series Blackwing.