Cadillac’s most compact and frugal four-door is perhaps its most compelling, as evidenced by its place among our favorite sport sedans. This small sedan ostensibly competes with the growing class of sub-compact luxury sedans, yet its rear-drive layout and sophisticated chassis are more akin to European offerings a size larger. The CT4’s chassis makes an excellent case for itself against the benchmark BMW 3 Series, and the Blackwing adds M3-like power to that already-phenomenal platform. It even has a standard manual gearbox.
So it’s compelling, but is it competitive? The CT4 is smaller, with a cramped back seat and rinky-dink trunk. Its cabin quality is lower and its engines (including the Blackwing’s twin-turbo V6) less refined. Yet, it is sufficiently cheaper to justify all of the above. For the dwindling few who still prize communicative steering and an unflappable suspension in their entry-level luxury sedan, the CT4 is a terrific choice – no matter what you compare it to.
The CT4 was new for 2020 but due to global constraints and dwindling sedan sales, it has been produced and sold in limited numbers. Along with its larger sibling, the CT5, it is expected to be discontinued entirely by the middle of the decade. Cadillac has confirmed that the Blackwing models will be its final internal-combustion halo sedans.
What’s new for 2022?
The CT4 lineup gains a new halo model for 2022: The CT4-V Blackwing. It packs a twin-turbo V6 with enough power to take on the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 and even comes standard with a manual transmission. Other updates are few and far between. Blaze Orange Metallic (as seen on the Blackwing photo up top) has been added to the exterior color selections, and Super Cruise packages will be available later in the ’22 model’s production run. Note that due to the ongoing chip shortage, Cadillac may not be able to order a CT4 with a heated steering wheel for the remainder of the model year.
We’ve criticized the design and quality of other Cadillac interiors, and although the CT4’s is awfully similar to those, its lower price and market positioning make it far more competitive and, well, palatable. It may not be as expressive as the Mercedes A- or CLA-classes, but for the money, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed. More-expensive models can be optioned with features such as massaging front seats and Super Cruise (late availability).
The infotainment system is controlled by an 8-inch touchscreen with a pair of redundant control knobs better suited to scrolling through playlists, radio stations or other menu functions. One is adjacent to the screen and volume knob, while the bigger one is on the center console. We like this setup quite a bit and appreciate the Cadillac’s system’s clean look and quick responses. The base setup includes wirelessly connected Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus Amazon Alexa integration and a choice of USB Type-A and Type-C charging. Upgrades include navigation, multiple Bose audio packages, and exclusive to the Blackwing, an AKG audio system. Wireless charging is added with those.
Like many of Cadillac’s previous sport sedans, the CT4 is a bit of an oddball size-wise for the segment it targets, stretching nearly 9 inches longer than the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. However, this doesn’t translate into a comparable interior space advantage because of the CT4’s rear-wheel-drive platform. Instead, things are effectively evened out so that cabin space is similar to those competitors in terms of leg, head and shoulder room.
Not only is the CT4’s 10.9-cubic-foot trunk one of the smallest in the segment (only the Mercedes A-Class somehow managing to be smaller), it’s one of the smallest found on any sedan. Nevertheless, we managed to fit in just as many pieces of luggage as in the Cadillac CT5 – the bigger sedan had more room left over, but only for a shopping bag or two. Indeed, the days of Cadillac trunks looking like this are long gone.
Cadillac offers its small sedan in three states of tune. The Sport and Luxury models are equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-four good for 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This is the most potent base engine offered in the class. Like all CT4 models, it comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission, active fuel management (can run on only two cylinders to save fuel) and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is an option. EPA-rated fuel economy is 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined with RWD and 22/31/26 with AWD.
Premium Luxury models get the option of a 2.7-liter turbo inline-four that makes 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. It returns 21/31/25 mpg with RWD and 21/29/24 with AWD.
The CT4-V gets the same basic engine and nearly identical fuel economy figures, but gets a bump up to 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft. That may seem like a pittance considering the outrageously powerful V models of Cadillac’s past, but GM’s luxury arm has decided to re-jigger its performance hierarchy by eliminating “V-Sport” entirely, shifting “V” down to fill that role, and introducing a series of new range-topping Blackwing models. This positions the CT4-V against the BMW M235i Gran Coupe and Mercedes-AMG CLA 35, which both play in the exact same space with similar power figures. Its fuel economy is 20/29/23 with RWD and 20/28/23 with AWD.
At the top of the range is Blackwing, which hits 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds with the automatic and 4.1 with the manual. Its 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V6 makes 472 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque and it has a top speed of 189 mph. Fuel economy is rated at 15/23/18 with the manual and 16/24/19 with the automatic.
It’s legitimately fun. You can feel the immense strength of the chassis, as well as the impeccable suspension tuning when hustling the car along. You also just feel things. There seems to be less cushion and fewer 1‘s and 0’s between you and the car compared to other sport sedans like the BMW 3 Series and new Acura TLX. The steering has a lot to do with it: consistently weighted, regardless of drive mode, without too much speed-based adjustment, and genuine feedback filtered through the steering wheel. At the same time, the CT4 seems far more grown up and sophisticated in its engineering than the various front-drivers it competes with on price (Mercedes A/CLA, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe).
And, we should mention, all of the above applies to a CT4 Premium Luxury we tested. The CT4-V steps things up even further, especially when equipped with the optional MRC 4.0 suspension. The Blackwing is about as perfect as a (sub)compact sport sedan can feel while also offering a luxurious ride on the street. The manual gearbox shifts beautifully and includes rev-matching, no-lift-shift, launch control and line lock features for those looking to extract every ounce of performance from their cars.
If there’s a performance letdown, it’s the four-cylinder engine selections. Both are rather gravelly and hardly the silky-smooth mills offered by BMW or Acura, in particular. The upgrade 2.7-liter’s turbo also has a noticeably whistle-ly waste gate. There’s certainly no arguing about performance, though. The base 2.0-liter is perfectly competitive, while the 2.7 will genuinely impress in either of its available outputs.
We’re also big fans of the 10-speed automatic transmission. It capably does its job without fuss in normal everyday driving, but when in Sport mode, the car detects when you’ve started to drive enthusiastically and automatically engages a further performance-oriented algorithm (it actually alerts you to this in the gauge cluster). Lower gears remain selected to keep revs highs and downshifts are perfectly timed and executed when braking into turns. Few automatics do a better job.
What more can I read about the Cadillac CT4?
A magnificent sunset for the internal-combustion engine.
V is for Deja Vu
Better than expected though still awfully small.
The CT4 has small shoes to fill.
The “Luxury” model represents the entry-level CT4. It starts at $34,690, including the surprisingly reasonable $995 destination charge. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, power front seats (12-way driver and 10-way passenger; both with power lumbar adjustment), leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen interface, wireless connected Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. and an eight-speaker sound system.
Stepping up to the Premium Luxury model adds 18-inch wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlights and wipers, driver’s seat memory settings and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. This trim also makes the 2.7-liter engine available as well as additional advanced safety systems.
The Sport is positioned as an alternative to the Premium Luxury for those who prefer a more youthful, performance-oriented style. It’s still offered exclusively with the 2.0-liter engine, but includes blacked-out trim, unique wheels, and sport-themed interior surfaces and accents.
The CT4-V is the entry-level performance trim. It comes standard with the enhanced 2.7-liter engine and adds a mechanical limited-slip differential, bigger brakes, Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 and V-specific wheels. Both summer and all-season tires are available.
And then there’s Blackwing. Standard equipment at this level includes everything on the CT4-V, plus the bigger engine, standard summer-spec tires, and of course, the manual gearbox. Interior upgrade packages include front sport seats with adjustable bolsters and lumbar massage. A performance data recorder and exterior carbon fiber aerodynamic components are also available.
There are quite a few available options, most of which are bundled into packages. Below you’ll find the base prices for each trim, but you can check out the 2022 Cadillac CT4’s full pricing, specs and feature breakdown here on Autoblog.
All prices are for the rear-wheel drive model and include a $995 destination fee:
- Luxury: $34,690
- Premium Luxury 2.0: $39,590
- Sport: $40,790
- CT4-V: $46,890
- CT4-V Blackwing: $59,990
The 2022 Cadillac CT4 Luxury model comes with no advanced safety systems standard, though forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking are standard on all other trim levels. The Driver Awareness Plus package adds lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning. The Driver Assist package adds an enhanced emergency braking system that operates at higher speeds as well as in reverse. Adaptive cruise control is included with that package, while Cadillac’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous highway driving system will be a late-availability option.
The CT4 had not been crash tested by a third party at the time of this writing.