2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Carries The Spirit Of Buick Grand National GNX - IMBOLDN
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As generation X reaches the summit of their mid-life crisis, so are the prices of vehicles from their youth. Cars and trucks from the “rad” era of the 80s and 90s are being bought at NTF prices. Vehicles like the formally underrated 1987 Buick Grand National GNX. In January, the last Buick Grand National GNX built sold for a whopping $550,000 at Barrett Jackson, putting the blue collar G-Body in a new tax bracket of collector cars. But auction prices aside, those who have been fans of the Grand National have been preaching, praying, and ranting for Buick to bring back the GNX.

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

With General Motors vowing to go fully electric, any hope of us seeing a revival of the GM’s infamous black sheep fall further into the dark depths of an online forum’s pipe dream. But, as The Rolling Stones sang, You can’t always get what you want, But if you try sometimes you just might find, You get what you need. And what we need is the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, a vehicle to carry Buick Grand National GNX’s spirit. 

The Last of an Era 

The 2022 CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwing are vehicles meant to represent everything Cadillac has in its performance arsenal. It’s an “everything but the kitchen sink” type of sports sedan capable of waving a white dueling glove at the German and Japanese sports “saloons.” Moreover, these cars, and the recently announced Escalade-V, are alleged, the last V-Series Cadillacs fueled by gasoline before stepping into a new era of charged luxury. 

It’s an “everything but the kitchen sink” type of sports sedan capable of waving a white dueling glove at the German and Japanese sports “saloons.” 

Cadillac has been around long enough to carry a different definition for people depending on their generation. I, being a millennial, am a prime target for Cadillac’s attempts at rebranding themselves from the AARP cardholder demographic. However, when I think Cadillac, I imagine acres of painted sheet metal draped in chrome, a funky bass line, gold pinky rings, and boss status. Big cars with comfy seats with irrelevant performance stats because simply being inside a Cadillac means you’ve already arrived. At least, that’s what I had in mind before I stepped into the cockpit of the 2022 Cadillac CT4-Blackwing. After spending 900 miles in this car, I was left feeling a spectrum of emotions ranging from disappointment to sober ecstasy. 

CT4-V Blacking, the Fastest-Ever Cadillac Subcompact 

The Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing featured in this review was equipped with the optional six-speed manual transmission and loaded with over $17k of add-ons. The exterior bodywork is dressed in Satin Steel Metallic paint with two carbon fiber packages. Inside, the car features a two-tone leather interior in Natural Tan and Jet Black. Top-tier performance is achieved thanks to a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 producing 472-hp and 445 lb.-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via an enhanced electronic limited-slip rear differential. According to Cadillac, the CT4-V Blackwing can reach a top speed of 189 mph (on a race track) and will sprint from zero to 60 in 4.1-seconds (with manual transmission). However, if you opt for the 10-speed automatic, the time is cut to 3.9-seconds. 

Cadillac claims the CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwing are the fastest production Caddys ever, with the CT4-V labeled as the “fastest ever Cadillac subcompact.” A title the Blackwing wasted no time proving the moment I shifted into second gear and felt the sedan pull effortlessly into a stellar sensation of acceleration. Some cars are quick, and others are fast – the CT4-V Blackwing is both. 

Cruising Around Town in a Cadillac Blackwing

For a dark colored four-door sedan, the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing stands out. I felt like being the belle of the ball while driving it around town catching people noticing and staring at the car’s large carbon fiber rear spoiler and aggressively styled front end. When falling into temptation, I turned off the traction control and was pleased with how well the CT4-V Blackwing can spell the number 11. That temptation was constant when shifting from second gear into third as the Blackwing pokes you in the spine, egging you on to give it more gas, more RPMs so that it can sing. Shift into third and press a little harder on the throttle, and the car offers an intoxicating sensation of speed as it propels forward in a whoosh of turbo spool. Eyes lock on target at the road ahead as the scenery in your peripheral vision transitions into a high-speed blur. Sliding into fourth gear, you suddenly realize you passed the posted speed limit ages ago and back off to avoid being spotted by Johnny Law. 

Grand Touring the Texas Hill Country in the CT4-V Blackwing 

A car this special deserves a proper road test that ordinary city commuting can’t provide. Thus, I took the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing on a nine-hour grand tour in the Texas Hill Country. Specifically, a locally known section called Twisted Sisters, a narrow two-lane ribbon of tarmac that goes up and around a hillside. It was here that the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing thrived and flexed its grip, brakes, and power with a turbo spooling yell that echoed through the valley. 

A car this special deserves a proper road test that ordinary city commuting can’t provide. Thus, I took the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing on a nine-hour grand tour in the Texas Hill Country.

However, before charging the hill, I pressed the Cadillac’s V-Button located on the steering wheel. Pressing this button saves time cycling through drive modes and sets everything to full-attack mode. The car reacts in an instant like a dog hearing a doorbell. The steering, in particular, tenses up and feels incredibly stiff like a vintage supercar with no power steering. It offers a good feel for the road, which often feels artificial or nonexistent in modern vehicles. The six-speed manual feels in-tune to your hand as it slides into each gear with crisp short rows. Thankfully, the clutch pedal doesn’t require a gym membership to engage and disengage and is relatively forgiving for a car of this caliber of performance. 

Twisted Sisters / Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

The Twister Sisters route earns its name in the form of a twisty and narrow two-lane blacktop with blind turns and no room for error. Messing up on this challenging road means one of two options, kissing the jagged side of a mountain or taking a Peter-Pan dive with bits of guard rail falling behind you. As the car climbed, so did my confidence as I took comfort in the CT4-V Blackwing’s Brembo brakes, Michelin tires, and Magnetic Ride Control helping me stay away from certain death, or worse, the embarrassment of totaling a brand new Cadillac. Meanwhile, the car’s optional Rev-Match feature made me sound like I knew what I was doing. 

CT4-V Blackwing is Fast but Far From Perfect 

Now, while the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing offers five-star performance, its interior falls short of a perfect rating. This is often typical of General Motors. They focus so much on developing a fantastic drivetrain and end up treating the interior like a middle child. The interior of CT4-V Blackwing photographs like a pair of yoga pants, but like many Instagram accounts, it only looks good. The sporty bucket seats, for example, are too firm for a Cadillac. The side bolstering, while supportive, feels like wood wrapped in leather and is not inviting to people of generous proportions. Moreover, set to its max, the seat’s optional massaging feature feels like a cat making muffins on your lumbar.

The digital instrument display is sharp and easy to read and offers a HUD on the windshield (included in the Technology Package). However, the center dashboard screen and buttons look like they were pulled out of the Chevrolet Camaro parts bin. Suede and carbon fiber trim was not enough to distract me from the fact that I could hear a significant amount of tire roar on the highway. On the plus side, the Cadillac’s 14-speaker AKG audio system allowed me to drown out the road noise. The day’s adventure was certainly felt in my lower spine and knees when I arrived home after a long day sitting in the CT4-V Blackwing driver seat. 

Pricing and Gas Mileage 

The 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing starts at $58K. However, as mentioned earlier, the model shown has $17,100 worth of options bringing the total to $76,095 – not including destination charge. All the carbon fiber you see is an option of which two packages are available for the Blackwing. The first carbon fiber package is $6,500, and the second is $2,550, and if you want a sunroof, performance data with a video recorder, that will cost you $1,600. The seats came equipped with a $600 Climate Package which offers massaging and ventilation for the front seats. The 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with graphite finish will set you back $600 along with $650 for the Satin Steel Metallic paint job. The Technology Package provides a heads-up display and an air ionizer for the price of $725. On the other hand, the 2022 CT4-V Blackwing has a much lower starting price than its prime competitor, the 2022 BMW M3, which starts at $71,095. 

Over the course of 900 miles, I averaged a few decimal points over 18 mpg running on 91 premium fuel. Not bad, considering my foot felt unusually heavy during the seven-day test drive. A more light-footed driver could easily granny-shift this manual transmission Cadillac into getting an average mpg in the low 20s. 

A Buick Grand National GNX in Spirit I

Imagine, for a moment, an alternate reality in which Buick announces a new Grand National GNX. The car would definitely feature a blacked-out grille, like on the CT4-V Blackwing. Furthermore, if they wanted to stay true to the original, the new GNX would be a family sedan, like the Blackwing. The engine would undoubtedly be the same 472-hp 3.6-liter twin-turbo with carbon fiber fixins, and buyers would step over each other to be first on the reservation list. While not a GNX by name, the 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing offers a satisfying alternative to what could have been. The Buick Grand National was the car General Motors cut its teeth on when it came to developing turbocharged performance cars. The spirit of GNX lives on in the heart of the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing.