2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing and CT4-V Blackwing revealed: Enthusiast catnip

The recipe for Cadillac's new 2022 CT4-V Blackwing and 2022 CT5-V Blackwing is relatively simple. Take the automaker's newest luxury sedans, drop in some seriously potent engines and fan-favorite features like stick-shift, rear-wheel drive, and Magnetic Ride Control, and strap on a head-turning body kit with legitimate aero credentials. Then sit back and wait for people to take notice.

It's fair to say there's been something of a nomenclature shakeup at Cadillac in recent years. Once upon a time, "V" branding denoted the top of the performance tree, with V-Sport a more attainable middle ground. That positioning was retired in favor of bringing "V" mainstream, leaving a gap in the line-up where modern-day icons like the CTS-V and ATS-V once sat.

Cadillac is filling it with Blackwing, once an individual engine but now a banner for the most potent vehicles the automaker can build. "The Blackwing name has come to stand for the highest level of execution from Cadillac," Brandon Vivian, executive chief engineer, explains, and pointedly that doesn't just mean speed. While a car needs to be fast in order to bear the Blackwing badge, it also has to deliver on comfort and luxury too.

The result is the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing and the 2022 CT4-V Blackwing. As their names suggest, they're based on the already sporting versions of the CT5-V and CT4-V sedans, with a focus on the features fans of such cars demand. Manual transmissions, functionality above fashion, and plenty of power .

2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

It's tough to follow in the tread-marks of the visceral CTS-V, a Caddy sports sedan fit for Darth Vader, but the CT5-V Blackwing attempts it. At its heart there's the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 enthusiasts know and love, each hand-built by an individual engineer at GM's Bowling Green plant and bearing their signature too.

Thanks to a new supercharger, plus inlet restriction, throttle body changes, and new exhaust systems among other tweaks, it's good for 668 horsepower and 659 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 mph comes in approximately 3.7 seconds, and top speed is in excess of 200 mph. A six-speed TREMEC manual transmission is standard, with active rev matching, no-lift shift, and special cooling; a ten-speed automatic with magnesium paddle shifters, Sport Mode, and an auto-activating Dynamic Performance Mode is optional.

Despite the performance car market's shift to all-wheel drive, the CT5-V Blackwing remains rear-wheel drive. "We have a very strong guiding principle, if it doesn't make the car faster on the race track then it doesn't go on the car," Vivian says. "AWD doesn't make them faster, so it's not offered on the Blackwing."

What you do get is an electronic limited slip rear differential (eLSD), which can push torque left to right depending on which wheel has the best traction, the Performance Traction Management (PTM) setting, and the current drive mode. Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 (MR 4.0) is standard, four times faster to track and react to the road surface as it adjusts the stiffness of the dampers. It works with MacPherson strut front suspension and five-link independent rear suspension.

As for slowing, there are 6-piston Brembo brakes at the front and 4-piston Brembo rears – in grey, blue, red, or bronze – clamping down on 15.67-inch and 14.7-inch rotors respectively. They just happen to be the biggest brakes in Cadillac history. Carbon-ceramic brakes are optional, cutting 53 pounds in unsprung weight as well as delivering better sustained performance and resistance to heat fade.

Special Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber has been developed, with a three-compound contact patch that leans heavily on racing "R compound" and has been designed particularly with wet traction and durability on and off the track in mind. It's worn on 19-inch forged aluminum alloy wheels with staggered widths, promising to be stiffer and lighter as well as looking smart in polished, satin graphite, or bronze, with a magnesium wheel in the pipeline.

They're part of a striking aesthetic that leaves little confusion that Blackwing means business. From the core CT5, the performance model throws in new front primary and secondary grilles, a rear spoiler, front splitter, side extensions, a rear diffuser, fender vents, rocker extensions, and special "underwing" underbody panels. LED exterior lighting is standard, and there's an optional carbon fiber package.

It's not just dress-up, either. "Every part of a race car must serve a purpose," Brian Smith, director of exterior design points out, "so for the V-Series Blackwing we've used that in the design process from front to back." Each front grille, for instance, is open and functional; the mesh has been specially designed to cut backdraft angles and improve the cooling flow.

Wider front fenders have more functional vents for engine compartment venting, while the rocker extensions join with the rear valance diffuser to help the aerodynamic flow. The underwing sports track-car-like strakes to channel airflow and cut front lift.

Optional is the carbon fiber aero package, with a more aggressive carbon front splitter, spoiler, rear valance, rocker extensions, and a carbon grille header. It's good for a 75-percent cut in lift, but also gives Cadillac's engineers another opportunity to show off. The weave is book-matched on the center line, a finicky design detail that many automakers don't go to the effort of doing.

Inside, leather seats with heating, ventilation, lumbar massage, and 18-way adjustments are standard, with carbon fiber trim, and a performance steering wheel. Options include Level 2 Performance front seats with leather and sueded microfiber with heat, ventilation, and massage, plus leather and sueded microfiber on the doors and a matching headliner. Carbon fiber seat backs – also book-matched – are available.

It doesn't just look good, mind. Cadillac made sure the seat bolsters have sufficient clearance for your arm when you're shifting in the manual CT5-V Blackwing, while the headrest can handle a helmet without leaving your head pushed forward. Even the pedals have been specially positioned to allow for heel/toe shifts with the 6-speed.

A 15-speaker AKG audio system is standard, as is a performance steering wheel with a PTM mode switch and a V mode button that can trigger a custom drive mode. It's leather wrapped – with a red 12 o'clock stripe – and has more carbon fiber trim.

A 12-inch HD digital instrument cluster is standard, with different layouts for Tour, Sport, and Track and a simplified version that pares things back to the essentials. There's also a head-up display and a 10-inch center console touchscreen, from which the available Performance Data Recorder (PDR 2.0) – with 1080p video capture and stat overlays – is controlled, as well as the custom Launch Control with Line Lock. That allows for personalized settings for surface, RPM, and slip target. It also supports wireless Apple CarPlay plus Android Auto, wireless phone charging, and a 360-degree camera.

2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing

Smaller and more attainable than its bigger sibling, the 2022 CT4-V Blackwing still promises to pack a punch. Its 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 is good for 472 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque, together good for a top speed of 189 mph and 0-60 mph in an estimated 3.8 seconds.

As with the supercharged V8, it's been a case of continued evolution. The massaged V6 gets new inlet restriction, for example, plus better temperature control from retargeted piston oil squirters. Again, the manual is standard and the 10-speed auto an option. The No-Lift Shift is arguably even more useful here, where it allows the CT4-V Blackwing's turbos to stay spooled up.

The eLSD is standard, as is MR 4.0. The CT4-V Blackwing wears Michelin's special rubber on 18-inch staggered wheels, though there's no carbon-ceramic brake option. Like with the bigger sedan, brake pedal feel is one of the settings that can adjusted in the My-Mode and V-Mode settings, along with things like traction and stability control, the eLSD, Magnetic Ride Control, and steering feel.

Outside, the same focus on functional aero marks the Blackwing from its less spicy siblings. There's a carbon fiber aero package that promises 214-percent less lift.

Inside, leatherette seats with heat and 18-way power adjustment up front are standard, plus carbon fiber console trim and a leather-wrapped performance steering wheel. Options include Level 1 Performance sports seats with leather and sueded microfiber, heat, and 16-way power adjustment, a high-performance wheel with additional controls, and Level 2 Performance seats which add in ventilation and lumbar massage. You can also have leather and sueded microfiber door trim and matching headliner.

There's a 14-speaker AKG audio system, 12-inch HD cluster display, and an 8-inch touchscreen in the center console. No head-up display, but you can add the PDR 2.0, and Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and wireless phone charging are standard.

2022 CT5-V Blackwing and CT4-V Blackwing pricing

Reservations for both cars open from today, with Cadillac saying that deliveries are expected to begin from later in the summer of 2021. The 2022 CT5-V Blackwing will start from $84,990, while the 2022 CT4-V Blackwing will start at $59,990, both including $995 destination. Both will be "limited availability" the automaker says, though isn't being drawn on just how many examples that actually means.

One thing that won't be on the options list is Enhanced Super Cruise, GM's hands-free driver assistance tech. "Everything we chose to implement on Blackwing was designed to improve driving performance," Michael Albano, director of communications at Cadillac, explains. "Super Cruise is an incredible technology, however the added weight did not fit with the Blackwing ethos."

As for just how many people will opt for the manual, there Cadillac is fairly confident enthusiasts will show their true colors. Indeed, it's forecasting anything from 20-25 percent of the Blackwing cars to be the 6-speed. That – along with just how these most potent of Caddies hold up on the road and track – is something we'll be very curious to see when we get a chance behind the wheel later in the year.