Cadillac's new Blackwing steering wheel puts max performance first

Cadillac may not be ready to fully reveal its new Blackwing performance sedans, but we do at least know what drivers of the more potent CT4 and CT5 variants will be getting to grips with. The automaker has teased its latest steering wheel design for the two cars, and there are some notable improvements over what you'd find in the regular Caddies.

The 2022 CT5-V Blackwing and CT4-V Blackwing will sit at the top of the tree for the revamped V-Series sub-brand. Cadillac's most aggressive models are taking the name of the Blackwing engine it designed – though, a little confusingly perhaps, they won't actually use that engine – and giving the CT4 and CT5 its range-topping versions.

It's a departure from previous Cadillac nomenclature. Only a few years ago, having "-V" appended to the name meant you were getting the maximum performance: the old CTS-V, with its Corvette engine, illustrated that perfectly. In modern Caddy vernacular, however, the CT4-V and CT5-V are de-facto replacements for the old "V Sport" cars, with slightly more performance and bolder styling.

That left room at the top for the Blackwing cars. Set to launch in summer 2021, they'll be offered with manual and automatic transmission options. No official word on engines yet, but count on a specially-tuned chassis and unique vehicle control technologies. They should also have more power than their spiritual predecessors, the ATS-V and CTS-V.

As for the new steering wheel, it's an evolution rather than a complete revolution like in the Cadillac Lyriq electric crossover. Wrapped in leather with real stitching, it has a 12 o'clock red racing stripe – so that you know, at a glance, where the wheel is turned to – along with carbon fiber trim and a V-Series badge.

Mounted underneath the left spoke, meanwhile, is a V-Mode button. That instantly summons the most powerful drive mode settings. The right spoke gets the Performance Traction Management system control, with various different drive modes ranging from daily-driver upward.

Behind the wheel, albeit blurry, looks to be a fully digital instrument cluster with new graphics. There's a conspicuous "200" legend in there, too, which certainly hints at some high performance claims, along with smaller displays for what look like G-force and other metrics. We'd expect it all to be drive mode configurable, showing different information depending on whether you're treating the CT5-V Blackwing or CT4-V Blackwing like a luxury car or a performance one.

We'll know more come next summer or, probably more accurately, as Cadillac continues to drip out tidbits about its driver-focused flagships over the coming months.