GM’s new ultra-high-performance luxury sedans – the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and the CT5-V Blackwing – are driven exclusively by the rear wheels, meaning that they do no offer all-wheel-drive (AWD), even as an option. Meanwhile, German rivals have begun to introduce all-wheel-drive systems on some of their own range-topping performance sedans – like the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 – which traditionally shipped exclusively in rear-wheel-drive (RWD) guise. As a result, it’s only natural to wonder why the Cadillac Blackwing models don’t offer AWD. That’s exactly the question GM Authority executive editor, Alex Luft, posed to Cadillac performance variants manager, Mirza Grebovic, in a recent interview.
This isn’t the first time Grebovic, who led the development of both Blackwing models, had been asked the question. “All-wheel-drive obviously always comes up. The stance we took as a team is that we really wanted to make [the CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing] drivers’ cars,” he says.
And though one could argue that AWD wouldn’t necessarily prevent a vehicle from being a drivers’ car, Grebovic makes a very valid point in saying that “V-Series was born from motorsports, from our motorsport experience and us wanting to be in motorsports, and we don‘t have any motorsports applications with all-wheel-drive.”
Grebovic adds that, compared to RWD, the increased weight and complexity of AWD configurations presents other issues.
“With all-wheel-drive, there are mass hits, there are cost hits and more engineering challenges. With the 668 horsepower [CT5-V Blackwing] or 472 horsepower [CT4-V Blackwing], we really wanted to celebrate – as I like to call it – the art of driving.”
The engineer defines the art of driving as “driving in good weather, dry weather, on the track, on canyon roads,” adding that “nobody is going to take a 668 horsepower car and drive down a canyon or go to the track in snow.”
But that doesn’t mean that either of the Cadillac Blackwing models can’t be perfectly usable in daily driving in the winter, with the proper equipment.
“We do hear customers who live in some areas saying that all-wheel-drive will help them. I‘m in Michigan. It‘s been snowing quite a bit here lately, and I‘m currently driving an early Blackwing car on winter tires with no problem.”
“The cars do have snow and ice modes, they are rear-wheel-drive, and one will have to be cognizant that these are high-power cars that are not meant to be tracked or driven at the limit in the snow.
“But we do have all-wheel-drive on the ‘base’ Vs. Many wonder, why we made a V-Series and a V-Series Blackwing. Well, this is why. We listened to the customer. Some customers fall in the group of, ‘I drive this car enthusiastically on the road and I want to take it to the track, but I don’t want to go all nuclear with the Blackwing option’. And we do offer AWD [on the non-Blackwing CT4-V and CT5-V] with some good power on those vehicles.”
In other words, those looking to drive the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing or the CT5-V Blackwing in icy or snowy conditions should know the value of a good set of winter tires, while employing common sense while driving the luxury super sedans.
As a refresher, the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing features the twin-turbocharged 3.6L V6 LF4 rated at 472 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque, while the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is powered by the supercharged 6.2L V8 LT4 rated at a more-than-healthy 668 horsepower and 659 pound-feet of torque. Both models are equipped as standard with a six-speed manual transmission, a rare thing in the high-performance luxury sedan segment. A 10-speed automatic is optional. Though the three-pedal setup is undoubtedly popular among enthusiasts, about 70 percent of buyers still prefer the automatic.
The first units of the Cadillac Blackwing sedans will start rolling off the at the GM Lansing Grand River assembly plant in Michigan this summer.
This post was created in collaboration with our sister publication, Cadillac Society.