Desperate for a day away from reality and looking for the perfect vehicle to escape in? The 2023 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is your car. Need to cover distance quickly and comfortably? CT5-V Blackwing. Robbing a bank? We can only guess the CT5-V Blackwing would work beautifully. It’s the ideal performance sedan combination: Titanic power, an exhaust note to match, and a chassis that allows the car to dance like it weighs a half-ton less than it does. This isn’t just a great car for today; it’s an all-timer.
V has come a long way.
Officially the CT5 V-Series Blackwing (at least on the window sticker), the 668 horsepower, LT4-powered CTS replacement, is the latest and last gas-powered big dog in Cadillac’s V performance brand. Unlike the CTS-V that the Blackwing replaces, GM threw manual transmission aficionados a bone with an optional six-speed Tremec TR6060 gearbox. Base price: $90,995. Our test car was loaded up with $8,855 in options, the optional Hydra-Matic 10L90 ten-speed automatic included. As-tested MSRP: $101,275, including destination.
We’ve fallen for high-po Cadillacs in the past. The original CTS-V was a Corvette sedan; the second generation was a hellacious, supercharged adrenaline spiker; the third-gen was an understated road rocket. With the latter car’s increase in size came the introduction of the ATS-V, which was replaced by the CT4-V Blackwing that launched concurrently with its 5-named sibling. We still hate the naming convention. Good news: You forget all about it when behind the wheel.
A day on the road, Blackwing style
In the throes of winter, we climbed into the big Caddy and pointed north. A day trip, out and back. Is there a better car to do so in than the Blackwing? Maybe the BMW M5 Competition. The German touts a harmonious balance of luxury and lunacy. The CT5-V Blackwing, however, lets the M5’s motives simmer on the back burner. The Blackwing is after one thing, its existence is the banner for how far GM has gone with the small block V8. This thing is a weapon.
668 horsepower. 659 lb-ft of torque. Cadillac claims a 0-60 MPH time of 3.4 seconds with the 10-speed, which lags behind the M5 Comp’s 3.2. Perhaps the Caddy’s ~200 MPH top speed is a better representation of the thrust present (the M5’s is 190). Remember, this car sends all its power through the back tires. Traction off the line is limited to what GM’s Performance Traction Management (PTM) and launch control can do. In the Northeast winter, it’s well off its optimal times. Mashing the gas pedal at any speed below 50 MPH induces wheelspin. It can be sketchy in the wet. Fun, sure. And the first time, I scared myself behind the wheel in a long while.
But let me tell you when it hooks, this thing is incredibly rapid from a roll. The benefit of a supercharger is not lost here. Plant your foot, and the response is instantaneous. Blocks of speed disappear not just by single MPH or even by 5s; the car seemingly pulls so hard that it accelerates in 10 MPH jumps. It’s just silly. I loved every second of it. So did my passengers.
Not perfect, but damn close
The V embraces a dual personality when you stretch its legs. The exhaust quiets down, the ride becomes reasonably supple, and the engine is barely taxed at all, turning just over 1,500 RPM at 70 MPH. And when a good stretch of the road opens up, pressing the V button on the steering wheel changes it from necktie and wine to WWE getup and a pitcher of Jägerbombs.
Demerits? Of course, every car has them. The interior materials feel more $75k car than $100k. The seats are too tight and firm for long drives. The back seat has more room than the CT4-V but still not enough for 6-foot-plus tall individuals to be comfortable on a two-hour drive. And despite my 19-MPG run on a 100-mile trek, the V positively gulps fuel when driven hard. Kudos to the 10-speed for making 20 MPG possible. Still, don’t count on it being a regular occurrence. Especially when the go pedal is so addictive.
V, the best of the breed, once and for all
It’s weird to say, but at the price, the CT5-V Blackwing feels like a bargain. The aforementioned M5 that I drove last summer was listed at $142,000 after plentiful options tacked onto its $103,000 base price. $7,500 of that went to the Competition Pack and another $8,500 to the brakes. Call it $120,000 for the best-performing M5 on this side of the CS. Down at $101k-ish, the Blackwing drives smaller, is more playful, has better steering, makes better sounds, and is overall just more fun. We’d rather road trip the M5, but road trips are a small part of vehicle ownership. Day-in and day-out? The Caddy, every time.
The way the 2023 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing drives is undeniably special. It perfects the V8-powered American performance sedan with a glorious engine and handling to shame most dedicated anything out there. A car truly deserving of every word of praise it receives, the Blackwing backs up its bark with its bite in truly spectacular fashion. The final mega-V fine-tunes the formula to a perfect crescendo. This is a car for the ages.