The “next-level” of Cadillac’s V-series sedans are coming. The Blackwing name has officially been upgraded to a trim-level that will serve on General Motors’ hottest four-doors. The most hotly anticipated of these sedans is the CT5-V Blackwing. It is the car that will attempt to fill the shoes of the highly acclaimed, LT4-powered, 2016-19 CTS-V. By turning Blackwing into a badge, Cadillac has distanced itself from its bespoke twin-turbo Blackwing V8, internally known as LTA. So, even though the top-tier CT5’s new branding suggests twin-snails, there is actually a supercharged 6.2L pushrod motor lurking under its surprisingly unvented hood.
Not only is the CT5-V Blackwing forgoing Caddy’s first exclusive V8 in more than a decade for a shared corporate powerplant, the majority of pundits are confidently predicting that the LT4 from the new car’s forebear in the Cadillac lineup will be making an encore in the big Blackwing. Below, we detail the reasons why reusing the LT4 would be a poor decision on the General’s part and how we believe that Cadillac could be feeding the press misinformation in an attempt to shock the automotive world when they unveil an LT5 motivated 5-V Blackwing later this year.
1: GM Doesn’t Recycle Engines on Performance Models
One of the biggest reasons that the LT4 to CT5-V Blackwing rumor doesn’t sit well with most GM aficionados is that there is zero precedent for the General carrying over engines between generations of their modern performance cars. Since the dawn of the LS V8 in 1997, every performance model good/profitable enough to spawn a successor has also received an exciting new engine and a considerable power boost to go along with it (as you can see in our handy visual aid below). The flagship of Cadillac’s V series is the perfect example of this continual improvement; the first-generation V received a new engine halfway through its production run in order to stay fresh, it was then infused with an extra 156 HP for its sophomore outing, which was then followed by an additional 84 horses in its most recent iteration. Keeping things fresh is one of the primary things that ensures continued consumer interest.
2: The Sales and Marketing Perspective
We already know that the big-dog CT5 will ride on the same (world-class) Alpha 2 platform that underpinned the third-generation CTS. If GM also ropes the LT4 back into propulsion duty, the resulting vehicle will essentially be a re-skinned 2019 CTS-V. This situation would likely lead many would-be customers to question the value of the new car when they can pick up a lightly used third-generation V (or V3 if you will) at a steep discount. Hindering the efforts of the sales and marketing folks even further, in this scenario, is the fact that the outgoing V is one of the most striking four-doors to hit showrooms in the last decade, with the new shell very likely to be viewed as a downgrade in the aesthetics department. The one saving grace here is the resurrection of the model’s six-speed manual, which took a sabbatical on the V3 after being the sole transmission option on the V1 and a popular option on the V2. Will a segment-exclusive clutch pedal be enough to woo buyers on its own? Time will tell, but the Blackwing looks to have an uphill battle for buyers right out of the gate.
3: The Competition
The state of the super sedan has progressed quite a bit since the LT4 and its face-flattening 650 horses and equal doses of torque debuted in 2015. The ensuing five model years have seen new introductions by both of the segment’s German benchmarks, the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63. Each of them now packs AWD traction and severely underrated twin-turbo V8s and then there’s the 707 HP Cat in the room (which is expected to receive an extra 90 ponies in Redeye guise this year).
Cadillac’s engineers have succeeded in supplanting BMW as the “driver’s choice” in the segment, a feat that seemed impossible, even borderline hilarious when they first shoehorned a Corvette engine into one of their sedans in 2004. While these hard-won, class-leading driving dynamics are of the utmost importance to the enthusiast, laypeople are mostly concerned with brand prestige and which car has the most power and should, theoretically, win a drag race. Prestige is in the mind of the beholder but for those all-important straight-line and on-paper bragging rights, even the LT4 V3, the most powerful car to ever wear the crest (now sans-wreath), is in dire need of reinforcements as evidenced by handy visual aid the second.
As you can see, the LT4 V is the lightest car in its competitive set, no doubt adding to its outstanding driving experience, but the only performance category that it outright wins is braking. At the strip, it is a driver’s race (that slightly favors the Dodge) with the Hellcat but the two Americans fall behind the AMG and M cars immediately. At 60 MPH, the V already trails the über-Germans by more than half of a second, and by 150 MPH, it’ll be a full 2.1 seconds behind the leading Beemer. This speed advantage also manifests itself in the bends. At Virginia International Raceway, the Caddy is nearly three seconds per lap slower than the M5 and a whopping 7.5 seconds behind the “less powerful” Benz, according to Car and Driver’s testing. The bright side is that the V easily handles its domestic rival, gapping the Hellcat by a significant 6.7 seconds.
4: The Final Internal Combustion V Car?
Regardless of actual consumer demand, GM is pushing ahead with plans to electrify its fleet, and Cadillac has been earmarked to lead the “silent revolution” at the company. This means that there is a very real chance that the Blackwing version of the CT5 will be the last of the V cars as we know them. Make no mistake, the engineering team behind the enthusiasts’ Cadillac is intimately aware of this situation and there is no chance that sending their baby out with an uncompromising and resounding bang isn’t their sole focus. The absolute best way to achieve this goal is to climb to the top shelf of the GM Performance parts shed to coax the all-powerful LT5 out of retirement.
How the LT5 can Put the CT5 Over the Top.
When the grapevine of the automotive press first started buzzing about a successor to the third generation Cadillac CTS, most minds immediately started speculating about what might roast the rear tires of the model at the top of the range. The majority of publications thought that one of General Motors’ two shinny new V8s might fit the bill. Cadillac’s LTA “Blackwing” with its dual overhead cams and fast spooling “hot-v” turbos looked like a mirror image of what BMW and Mercedes were doing with the cars in GM’s crosshairs but Cadillac brass quashed the hopes of the LTA camp almost immediately. After a brief stint that saw about 1,500 Blackwing V8s installed in CT6 variants, it was announced that the motor wouldn’t fit between the fenders of the new CT5 and that the LTA’s stump-pulling 640 torques would become homeless for the foreseeable future once the CT6 went out of production in January of 2020.
This fact along with captured audio of the then-yet-to-be-named ultimate performance CT5 left only two options; an out of character retread of the LT4 or the criminally underutilized LT5 that has only done duty in one trim level of one model, the monster C7 Corvette ZR1.
Along with 755 HP and 715 lb-ft. of twist, an improvement of 105 horses and 65 lb.-ft. over the LT4 and a whopping 205 HP and 65 lb-ft healthier than the LTA “Blackwing,” the most powerful engine in General Motors’ history brings with it numerous other advantages over the other two bent 8s. The first of them being exclusivity. It might not be the Cadillac-only motor that many wanted but, if you think about it, it is better; which would you rather have in your car, ZR1 power, or an engine only found in one other obscure Cadillac? Unlike the now-ubiquitous LT4 which can be found in the C7 Corvette Z06 (39,940 made during a five-year production run), sixth-gen Camaro ZL1 (9,194 built through ’17and ’18 with more ‘19s yet to be tallied and the ’20 model year already underway), and the previous CTS-V (5,071 built from 2016 to 2018 with final 2019 numbers not yet available), the only way that customers have ever been able to get their hands on an LT5 was to buy one of the 2,953 examples of the fastest, most expensive vehicle in General Motors history. Talk about a hole in one!
Even though some will malign its insistent use of pushrods, the LT5 brings plenty of interesting technology to the table as well. Aside from the 64% larger (2.65L) supercharger, the LT5 is also packing GM’s largest-ever throttle body, a stronger crankshaft, 13 radiators to keep everything cool, and a trick dual-fuel injection system that is responsible for the LT5’s party trick; flame-throwing at full tilt.
All of this allowed the ZR1 that housed the LT5 to reach a mile per minute in three seconds flat, hit the century mark in 6.1 seconds (.7 faster than its LT4-motivated sibling), 150 mph in just 13.7 seconds (besting the Z06 by 3.3 seconds), and make it to 170 mph three full seconds before the Z06 could even hit 160 (19.9 vs. 22.9). The C7 ZR1 then dispatched the quarter in 10.8 seconds, crossing the line at a blistering 135 mph, .3 seconds and 8 mph faster than the Z06, en route to a McLaren 720S-equaling top speed of 212 miles per hour.
It gives us goosebumps just imagining what the lightest sedan in the segment could do if equipped with that kind of weaponry. Add in the previously mentioned manual gearbox and an optional wagon version, and you have a recipe for a perfect vehicle, one that is sure to be the all-time great that Cadillac desperately wants (and needs) to make right now.