Why Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, CT5-V Blackwing Don’t Offer All-Wheel-Drive50
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.
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This post was created in collaboration with our sister publication, Cadillac Society.
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I think it was for lack of budget.
For instance, these all-out track vehicles were not taken on the ‘Ring. Why would that be?
You wouldn’t be wrong. Omega had support for high output AWD, Alpha/A2XX did not. And Alpha didn’t have high-output AWD because it’s largely a recycle of Zeta, which was designed by Holden where AWD is relatively pointless.
GM decided “BEV3 all the things” and that’s where AWD will happen.
Is this the exact same platform as the CTS-V? Same width?
CT5 is gorgeous. Nice job, GM.
The fact that the V’s do offer AWD helps the story line. Blackwing models don’t, but I can’t imagine what it would take to harness that kind of power in a AWD setting. Look at the Nissan Godzilla, big power, AWD, heavy as hell and damn expensive. One option that comes to mind is a Blackwing that depowers itself in AWD, and full power in RWD only. This would allow a lighter weight AWD system and keep the RWD attributes that the designers lays out in his defense of RWD. I would assume they don’t want to sink the money into the Blackwing project that makes AWD possible. While extremely cool cars, they are not going to sell a lot of them. AWD would not be for the purpose of achieving better performance, but rather making the car more liveable, for more buyers. Even those that have wallets thick enough for these cars, still can appreciate a performance car that isn’t always a “one trick” pony.
You’d need transmission mounting and configuration changes to handle more torque from the LT V8’s. Just boils down to cost really. Weight is a factor but realistically it’s a feature few would buy outside of the rust belt for a car like that.
Most people buying a Blackwing have an AWD SUV already.
AWD sports cars are not a matter of snow. See vehicles like Subaru WRX and Porsche coupes.
AWD is desired because of two factors: first, it distributes acceleration forces over all four wheels maximizing available traction, and second, AWD cars can have better curve handling, when driven in by a knowledgable driver, because they can balance oversteer and understeer that are inherently caused by how RWD and FWD apply forces.
The larger the car, the more that yes, it is snow that is the dominant buying factor. Nobody is going to drift around in a CT5 or CT6. CT4, maybe, but that’s part of the point, it would have cost far more to make an AWD system for one car.
(And GM is doing that for one car… it’s just the C8 in E-Ray and Zora trims).
The CT6 AWD system is what ever had a prayer of a chance to go in the CT5. It is not meant for cornering or curving.
Sam – although AWD can and is used as a performance enhancement in some situations, it is predominantly used to navigate snow/ice in luxury vehicles.
I think Jake’s statement is spot on. You want a luxury car that makes a statement and both of these Blackwing’s do that very well. However you want the confidence of AWD when your less concerned about high speed cornering and more concerned about climbing the steep, icy road to the ski hill. Obviously Cadillac had to make a decision on AWD and chose not to. Without knowing the details of what really drove that decision, it is hard to challenge it intelligently. However, I think an AWD package would have proven to be pretty popular.
It’s very simple, the volume on these cars don’t justify developing and AWD system. It’s a simple business case. You should count yourself lucky that these cars exist at all as they may never be profitable at volume they will sell.
Sam, people who genuinely know how to drive can balance their vehicles quite fine on their own. We don’t need fluffy awd, or annoying electronic nannies to keep the car straight and on track. Hell, I did alot of my driver training in a hair raising 1975 Porsche 930, Porsche’s original Widowmaker. No awd, no bs computer nannies to save your ass. If you screwed up, you were on your own. I learned to drive a manual, heel & toe downshift, and trailbrake. That’s what driving really means, just you, the car, and nothing else
Pure circumlocution… just say we’re trying to save money! There are myriad of weight savings technologies and avenues they could’ve pursued in order to achieve a performance sedan on par w/ the Europeans–and those are definitely driver’s cars… Toggle on/off AWD and all.
All this time Cadillac has been trying to follow the Germans starting with the naming game now it’s a money problem.The 5V Blackwing should have been built with AWD, Why build it if you got excuses and not going to go all the way ?
The original plan for the CT5-V Blackwing was to use a shortened Omega with CT6 AWD and the actual Blackwing V8 engine.
So they did at one point go all the way, until the decision was made to pivot to EVs. Same reason the Camaro is living out its lifespan without changes or improvements (if the Camaro ‘vert had pop-up rollbars, or a reinforced A-pillar, I’d have bought one already).
This is the most sensible explanation why the AWD plans were cancelled — no idea why you are getting downvoted for saying this — people don’t want to accept reality that the Corvette team acknowledged the performance limits of front-engine RWD, even with the engine pushed back. Given a mid-engine sedan is a nonstarter (why not bring back the Corvair! Obviously way ahead of it’s time when tire and suspension tech was non-existent), AWD is the next performance frontier. Calling AWD a winter-only feature is a “snow job” at it’s finest.
That said, there’s a lot of fun to be had with front-engine RWD. The CT5-BW lives somewhere between the Hellcats and the AWD German competition, especially if well-equipped pricing lands below $100K. If pricing is pushing $120K, I would take the AWD competition.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the CT4-BW winds up being even more fun as a track machine, due to lighter weight and smaller size and it is priced very competitively against the M3, which looks hideous now and also lacks AWD. And if looking for a track weapon, I doubt either BW will come close to the ‘ring time of the Camaro ZL1 1LE, or that GM will ever run these BWs on the ‘ring.
So it’s not all bad. It’s just the budget moved to EVs and JDN wasted too much time moving Cadillac to NYC instead of investing in the product.
The M3 Competition will be getting AWD in a few months. BMW knows their audience and provides what we will buy.
The M3 offers a manual in base edition only (not Competition) and looks like it got its nose chopped off. BMW is going a good job of limiting production numbers.
Like I said, they know their market. The last gen sold less than 10% manual. Plus, No sense in even offering it in the Comp or with awd, because it’s always gonna be slower. Who’s gonna pay for extra power and traction and then want to be slower?
Same reason Cadillac was stupid to even offer it on these cars. The money they spent could have been spent on all wheel drive.
Cheap, Cheap, Cheap !
Money, Money, Money !!!
WHY do the GM people even speak to these questions, EVERYONE at this point KNOWS it is just GM being CHEAP !!!
There is no longer anything to hide.
Since money is no factor to you, tell us, which McLaren do you drive?
I believe it was a mistake to not offer AWD, not only for the performance factor, but also for safety with that much power. Not everyone is in the 99% skill set needed to handle that much power with RWD only, although they think they are. Not buying the excuse why they made it RWD only. If I were in the market for a car like that, the lack of AWD would be a deal breaker. On a different note, love the color options, would like to see those bright bold colors expanded to the rest of Cadillac, GMC and Buick lineup. There is a market for those of us that love greens, purples, oranges, yellows and bright reds on vehicles ….and they shouldn’t only be limited to the sports cars or some trucks. As an example, in 2019, the Buick Enclave came in a Carrageen Green, it was beautiful, only lasted one year. And for that matter, would like to see color choices for interiors expanded as well like GM did in the 60’s and 70’s, now it is a shade of beige, a shade of grey, maybe black and some sort of football color, boring.
Bean counters that’s why.
Same reason the previous Vs and Camaro got bashed for their interiors….CHEAP! GM rarely if ever goes all out on a vehicle and we all see the results. You either get a great exterior and boring interior with a basic powertrain or vice versa. Take the Escalade with its great interior so-so exterior and non existent powertrain upgrade. They talk about a V version but will it happen probably not. Currently the vette is the only product with any hopes of being a full effort on all fronts with the truck line still playing catch up still today.
I don’t understand if I had the money I’d go for a ct6blackwing or a ZL1 over a ct5 blackwing. Performance with a ZL1 is to close with all 3 of those cars. With that being said I didn’t have a chance to choose the Cadillac at the time when I bought my 17 1LE, but if I had the opportunity now ct6 over ct5 blackwing. But living in Chicago the camaro is a weekend car so next car would have to have AWD. If GM made AWD for the ct6 why can’t you use that system for all the rest of cadillacs line up cars and SUV’s?
They didn’t do it because they’re stupid and cheap. That’s the bottom line. AWD helps performance in every way. That’s why despite the most power, these things are going to get destroyed by the M5 and E63, and probably even the M550 and E53.
GM failed at making a super sedan again. I knew they would. That’s why after my 11 CTS-V I went German. Haven’t looked back since.
It doesn’t matter because in the US the M5 and E63 now sell in ridiculously low volume. Muricans want big AZZ bloated SUVs
It’s because they’re overpriced. I just got a 21 M550. Chose it because of the $30k price gap between it and the M5. $30k for switchable awd and minor engine tweaks. Plus you can’t even get it with all wheel steering. No thanks. I’ll spend less, tune it to match the power and keep my awd and aws full time.
Is lack of AWD really supposed to be a problem??
Cadillac Blackwing is simply a much purer, more authentic car, 6MT and all. Of course you don’t understand.
Keep your overblown AWD, AWS acronym laden disposable Euro “super sedans”. You are not Blackwing material, rather just another elitist number crunching fluffboy.
Living up to your name perfectly. It’s clear you can’t play in this class, just like Cadillac.
Blackwing caters to self assured individuals not burdened by your little dick boundaries, Mike
I’m not even gonna go there. You do you. Hope you like my taillights.
You’re quite the one trick pony and your taillights are expectedly generic
I will happily look at your taillights while shifting my own gears! I’ll take the pleasure of shifting my own gears rather than simply smashing a pedal! One is more fun than the other 😉 Speed isn’t everything. These types of cars are about having some fun!? No? Well at least for those that don’t take ourselves too seriously! Enjoy your flappy paddles!
That is not the bottom line and you have no idea what you are talking about. AWD doesn’t help performance in everyway. It doesn’t turn as well (it does power out better) and it doesn’t stop as well; all it does it accelerate better with traction. The added weight loses both feel and cornering grip. If you take a car on the same size tires but one with AWD and one with RWD the RWD will corner faster at apex as it will be lighter. It will be able to brake later as it is lighter as well. The only reason the Germans went AWD is because their customers are no longer purists and just want the most power as possible in a straight line and RWD with their lack of enthusiast skills makes it more dangerous and slower 0-60-100-1/4mile etc. Power is making up for their lack or loss of braking and turning ability along with the ever climbing curb weights.
Exactly, that’s why race cars are RWD.
80% of people don’t track their cars.
60% probably have their cars set in comfort mode all the time because US regulations don’t let us drive past 65 in some places and traffic prevents spirited driving
It is proven RWD is more effective on track and even in roll races will prove to be more effecient with less drive train losses. This is a fact.
However, given the above circumstances, in today’s climate most of the “racing” / “spirited driving” you will do is on the highway going straight or from a stop light. Most drivers won’t go past speed limits so being able to put power down on low RPM pulls while NOT losing traction is more important. Therefore AWD wins here.
I own a fully modified Audi RS3 and I drive it the way it was meant to be driven. Most people don’t and most driving “purists” don’t have enough money to afford half the exotic stuff out there. Not trying to sound like an elitist, but I rebuilt my car from salvage to save some money and for the enjoyment in a project build. Cadillac made a massive mistake and their sales will show it due to the fact most buyers don’t care about the specifics of their cars. They just want the highest trim and to show off. Every Porsche 911 driver I have seen is either retired or a young kid who is more likely to die in a crash than I am despite the amount of understeer I have.
The people in the comments section that want “mur dur duh manual” and “it bettah be rear wheel only” are the same retards who criticize people for going fast on highways and back roads.
I will always pick AWD. Not everyone can afford track time and maintenance. AWD is more useful majority of the time we drive in my opinion.
I don’t care who wins. I like driving sideways, always have. I don’t care about “tracking” my car. The thought never crossed my mind.
I don’t care how others judge me because I don’t make the expected choice. Seeing their taillights makes no difference whatsoever. Most of these guys don’t have the balls to take it beyond the stoplight Grand Prix where the Cadillac will walk 9 out of 10 of their AWD Germanic wet dreams. Whatever.
I like to shift. I like the sound of the engine. I like being sideways. That’s just me and my uncouth lack of sophistication. I will never be in “the Club”. Obviously. No problem here.
The CT5-V Blackwing will be the car that’s worth a ton of money in 30 years. Regardless of what it lacks on paper. Because it had soul. The AWD gismoed to the max German ubersedans will be long forgotten and you can take that to the bank. The last M5 that anyone could give a damn about is the E39.
Smoke me on the back roads all you want. Or not. Different strokes for different folks.
You like to be sideways on the streets.
You carry your name well and may end-up like Tiger…
I’m so sick of GM always trailing everyone else on the AWD topic.
This “RWD is the best” mentality is barbaric and uneducated.
I feel like it should be followed with “MURICA!”
Have you ever considered getting driving lessons?
The flag wavers and good Ol boys are the ones driving those types of vehicles.
Yeah, like Pontiac, Bixler
Barbaric? Uneducated?? Seriously? Pragmatic, maybe…
Read: We’re abandoning this segment anyway so we bumped up HP a bit for bragging rights and initial impression, recycled Alpha but were too cheap to put in the real dollars for engineering a competent AWD system. Meanwhile an M5 with AWD is pulling sub 3 second 0-60 runs and competently hustling around the track with the added weight not impeding performance. I’m still somewhat impressed by these models but reading through the BS responses that comes from GM.
Sometimes it’s the thing that aren’t said that speak louder than what is.
I think if the primary purpose of the vehicle were for track duty, RWD makes more sense. However, most 4D sedans will live on the street. Better to spend $100k on the C8 Z06 for track duty and keep an AWD SUV for daily driving.
On the other hand, I may pick up a CT5-V BW once demand wanes a bit because I like driving a manual and maybe the price will be right.
I have an ATS4 2.0T. I sometimes wish I had the V6 RWD just so I wouldn’t have to deal with eventually replacing a turbo or front differential. Operating costs is a huge consideration for most people. People don’t buy German super sedans, they *lease* them!
As an engineer, I know AWD has some benefit. You can send up to 40% power to the front when accelerating in a straight line. It’s great for published 0-60 times. Other than that, you’re just lugging around an extra 150lb, and take a 2 mpg hit. AWD does NOT help you stop or turn. The GTR drives itself. Managing the car’s balance with your right foot is super rewarding. The M2 is not AWD. Porsche Cayman is not AWD. The blackwings don’t have to be everything to everyone.
Finally some common sense on this board.