2024 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing Review
The pinnacle of American muscle, a symphony of power and precision
BOSTON — I've driven hundreds of cars, and I can count on one hand how many left me thinking, "If Da Vinci made a car, I think it would be like that."
The Cadillac CT5 V-Blackwing is one of those cars. Unquestionably the best car I've ever driven from General Motors, it is a resounding gauntlet thrown down by its Michigan engineers that the American V8 muscle car ain't dead yet. That said, it's not doing as well as it once was.
The Charger and Challenger are gone, as is the Camaro. But we still have the Mustang and the Corvette. And, for now, we have the 2024 Cadillac CT5 V-Blackwing.
A 6.2-liter supercharged V8 under the hood makes a raucous 668 horsepower. Spec it properly, and Cadillac will fit it with probably the best six-speed manual I've ever used. Awakened with a gentle press of the start button, the CT5-V Blackwing is either a throbbing monster waiting to be unleashed or a gently purring kitten, depending on your drive mode.
Everything is an event with this car. Even driving to the gas station — which you'll do a lot, thanks to a combined 15 MPG fuel economy — makes you smile.
The slightest backroad curve is a marshmallow test of wills as to whether or not to drop down a gear or two and punch it, even for just a moment, to feel the grip and torque. And it's one of the easiest manuals to drive, too, thanks to a wonderful sync mode that automatically blips the throttle to match revs when you down- (or up-) shift.
It is, however, mind-bogglingly annoying that you have to turn the sync mode on every time you start the thing. Nothing is perfect, I suppose.
Turn the special V mode to maximum attack and you'll get a hearty bark with every downshift, which makes pulling up to a red light an event — particularly if you do it next to a cop with his window rolled down.
Luckily, the officer seemed more interested in looking at the car than in looking up my driving record. But whether at a red light or green, everything is an occasion in the Blackwing.
Turning into the grocery store parking lot? Exciting.
Stopping at Starbucks? A thrill a minute.
Getting gas yet again? That's a chance to talk to a friendly passerby about some Cadillac they once owned.
It's hilariously loud and joyfully obnoxious. It's simultaneously brutal and soft with the change of drive mode, thanks to the Magnetic Ride Control and its suspension dampers filled with magnetorheological fluid, one of my favorite automotive engineering words. It's basically an oil filled with lots of tiny iron shavings that uses magnets to adjust the suspension firmness with imperceptible quickness.
Speaking of quickness, it can run from zero to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, not that I tested that out at all — nor did I test the prodigious acceleration well into triple digits as you laugh hysterically at the exhaust note and supercharger howl.
The seats are supportive and comfortable, which is especially impressive considering they're also sporty and firm, which often doesn't equal comfort. Being a four-seater sports sedan, there's a large trunk for hauling things, and the seating position is low but not so low that it's annoying to climb in and out of.
While it impresses with handling and comfort, it also has all the tech, safety, and luxury features you'd expect from a top-of-the-line Cadillac. There's wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, paired with a terrific AKG audio system, and the head-up display is a must-have to double-check your engine RPM when downshifting in exhaust burble-fueled glee towards that cop at the stoplight.
The CT5-V Blackwing was everything I expected and everything I'd hoped for. I had heard from other car journalists about how special it was. I'd tried not to get my hopes too high, but I couldn't help it. But even with all the build-up and excitement, the Blackwing was nearly indescribably fantastic.
It turned out there were just two surprises. First was the color, an eye-popping yellow borrowed from Cadillac racing cars that looked drop-dead gorgeous in the sun and like something from a baby's diaper in the shade. Cadillac's race cars are half-black and half-yellow, which would have been greatly preferred to the Cyber Yellow paint job on this one, which got highly mixed reviews from everyone who laid eyes upon it.
There are numerous other color options for you to choose from, and you should, especially because the rest of the car has all manner of aggressive design treats, from carbon fiber aero to the massive Brembo brakes.
The other surprise was the price. The BMW M5 and Mercedes E 63 both start north of $110,000, while the 2024 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing I tested was well-equipped at just $103,300. It could (and probably does, depending on your dealer) cost 20 or 40 thousand dollars more, and it would still be worth every penny. It's that special.
My week with the Blackwing was one of the best in my automotive career — at least until it came time to return it, when, while driving in a highway construction zone, the wind suddenly knocked an orange, wooden, diamond-shaped warning sign right into the front corner of the car with no time or room to maneuver around it. It necessitated a bumper replacement before it could go on to the next journalist, and I still feel dreadful about it, though there truly wasn't anything I could have done.
And so I make my dearest apologies to Cadillac and to the journalist who was to have it after me, but mostly, I apologize to that glorious car. You deserved better, Blackwing. Maybe there's a silver lining, however: perhaps, while it's in the shop, they can paint it a better color than that awful Cyber Yellow.