The Cadillac brand has been riding on the cusp of greatness for many years but has not yet crest that line in my view but may be sitting just on it. However, with new innovative products and a last attempt to bring us something exciting in the luxury performance realm using internal combustion engines, the brand may be setting itself up for a ‘great’ future. Vehicles like the latest Cadillac CT4-V that I had a chance to review this week act as a filler to compete with the rest of the luxury performance market, not just the top tier where the new CT4-V Blackwing tends to hold a special position in the upper echelon of luxury performance for its class.
The Cadillac CT4-V (CT4 V-Series), which should not be confused with the more-powerful CT4-V Blackwing sibling, is more of a competitor to run against the Audi S3, BMW M235i Gran Coupe, or the Mercedes-AMG A35. Such a position is where lighthearted enthusiasts go to get a taste of luxury performance without paying the premium for the top-tier performer. In such a compact luxury sedan package, the CT4-V brings some sporty styling to the CT4 platform for somewhat of a unique look but doesn’t do it nearly as aggressively as the Blackwing variation, which falls in line with its level of performance.
The new Cadillac CT4-V uses a reworked version of the 2.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that you find in the standard CT4. The tweaking of the engine made specifically for the CT4-V gives it a total of 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent to a 10-speed automatic transmission only and can be had in a rear-wheel-drive or an all-wheel-drive setup. In my rear-wheel-drive CT4-V test vehicle the power feels substantial, especially for a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The power comes on strong from the start where there isn’t any noticeable turbo lag. Most of this is from the unique design of the CT4-V’s turbo with a remarkably short gap in the two exhaust ducts reaching the turbo providing better response times.
The 10-speed automatic transmission does well to manage the power from the turbocharged 4-cylinder, which has a surprisingly wide powerband where it doesn’t appear to give out at higher RPMs at or near its redline. Zero to 60 mph takes place in about 4.8 seconds on a rather consistent basis without much drama. There isn’t much sound that you’ll enjoy from the turbo 4-cylinder even though you can modify the engine sound through the drive mode customization settings, which then becomes an artificially synthesized growl. The 10-speed automatic fires off shifts faster in Sport drive modes or the V mode where permitters can be set to their highest level for better vehicle response.
There are several drive modes, probably too many in fact, that you’ll wonder why they are all offered. Many of the drive modes have only subtle changes in the way the CT4-V feels or behaves, which I believe are more along the lines of taking what worked for vehicles like the new Chevy Corvette or the more-powerful CT4-V Blackwing. Here, these drive settings, like the Performance Traction Management System’s many Track-mode perimeters, are somewhat of a lost cause in my view. With that, the CT4-V isn’t a slouch in the least bit and you’ll be shocked at how it carries itself and handles using its adaptive dampers and their 3-mode-settings to keep the body composed and planted. Basically, you feel that the chassis with its 50/50 weight distribution is up to the task of handling much more power as it sits, which you can find in the CT4-V Blackwing with 472 ponies at bay.
Overall ride quality is on the stiff side making the CT4-V feel light on its feet at times but doesn’t necessarily beat you up even in the more aggressive Sport setting for the adaptive dampers. Still, there’s something extra to be desired in a “V” vehicle from Cadillac, which again, is answered when you step up to the Blackwing variation of the CT4-V.
Fuel consumption is mostly consistent and doesn’t deviate far from the EPA estimates of 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway in the real world. I would have thought I could muster out a bit more than the 29 mpg on the highway, but I never saw anything much better than the claimed 29 mpg.
The interior of the Cadillac CT4-V is a small space properly fitting its compact classification. The seating areas are somewhat narrow, and the rear seating is short on legroom, a bit more so than competitors. However, the good thing about the front heated, ventilated and back-roll-massaging leather seats are the ample adjustability where short folks and those over 6 feet tall can find a proper comfy place with the surprising amount of adjustability of the power seats. In fact, the front seats can be adjusted all the way back to basically touch the rear seat bottoms leaving virtually no rear legroom.
The cabin has a welcomed luxury feel to the materials used with several soft-touch surfaces throughout with the proper accented stitching and polished trim areas. Controls are easy to reach with an enjoyable set of physical controls for the dual-zone automatic climate control and the redundancy of infotainment controls through the 8-inch touchscreen and central control knob and buttons behind the shifter.
Cadillac’s latest ‘user experience’ infotainment system is pretty straightforward, which is a good thing. Through the 8-inch touchscreen, everything is responsive and has a very short learning curve. My test vehicle came equipped with a favorite in the world of semi-autonomous driving, Cadillac’s Super Cruise, which is always a joy to use on long highways and Interstates proving to be among the best in the business for handsfree driving covering a large gamut of popular American roads.
The Cadillac CT4-V comes with all of the expected active safety features, including blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert w/emergency braking, lane departure warning/mitigation, forward collision warning/mitigation, automatic high-beam assist, and adaptive cruise control with the added Super Cruise system on my test vehicle.
Where I believe the Cadillac really shines brightly with the new CT4-V is in its pricing where it is somewhat of a bargain that undercuts more powerful offerings in its unique segment. The new CT4-V starts at $46,595 before any fees and then builds up to about $60,000 for my nicely-equipped test vehicle with the $3,700 Super Cruise 1 option package.