This story, with a nod to Charles Dickens, is the story of two transmissions: a 6-speed manual and a 10-speed automatic. Both are available in the 10 Best award-winning Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing. As we constantly promote the joy of shifting your own gear—the interaction of gearshifting—and care about cars that should offer manual transmissions but shouldn’t, this exceptional sports sedan has brought give us a rare moment of self-reflection.
Are we right to believe that, just as clothes make a man or a woman, a manual transmission makes a car? Maybe a great performance sedan all around like CT4-V Blackwing almost as coveted with an automatic as it is with a DIY transmission? We ordered an automatic CT4-V Blackwing to explore this emotional conundrum.
We’ve known the manual transmission CT4-V Blackwing as an old friend; we have one for one long term test and have traveled over 10,000 miles on it. It’s a lot of shifting and gripping, and we don’t regret it. The Blackwing’s six-speed manual is one of the best, reminiscent of the sweet units attached to various BMW 3-series models over the years. The Caddy’s transmission has the same direct feel, is well-lubricated, and the gearshift linkage is solid, making it a pleasure to paddle. The clutch pedal reception is intuitive and perfectly weighted. And of course, the manual transmission is at work on one of the best sports sedans in the world.
Same for the automatic Blackwing. The CT4-V Blackwing, aside from the 10-speed automatic transmission, is virtually identical to the manual model. It has the same 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 under the hood that makes 472 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque. For the record, the manual transmission Blackwings have lightweight titanium connecting rods to help their V-6 spin faster, but that’s not a difference you can feel from behind the wheel.
The other key performance gear is identical, starting with rear-wheel drive (no AWD available) and including sticky summer tires—255/35ZR-18 front and 275/35ZR-18 rear of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S—plus large Brembo brakes and adaptive magnetic rheological damper. There are countless ways to fine-tune cruise, handling and traction control between four drive modes, two custom modes and five steps in the Performance Traction Management system. Regardless of the gearbox, however, the CT4-V BW is a master both on the road and at the racecourse.
Our $84,715 auto tester has more options than our long-term car. In addition to the additional $2275 for the automatic, to get the automatic requires $900 for additional driver assistance technology. Our vehicle also has a video camera setup and performance data ($1600) and a Technology package that includes an air ionizer and head-up display ($725). But the only addition that’s likely to affect performance — aside from the automatic, of course — is the Carbon Fiber 1 ($6150) package, which adds a larger spoiler on the trunk lid and an extra splitter, faceplate, and rear spoiler. flat dive and front wheel wind deflector. to the anterior fascia. This car also has the Carbon Fiber 2 aesthetic ($4450) package that adds carbon side panels and a rear valence extension.
These aerodynamic aids will certainly increase downforce at higher speeds, but they will almost certainly also increase drag, which we think shows in the performance results. However, even with the extra equipment, the 3904-pound automatic is only 25 pounds heavier than the manual model, which means the weight difference is hardly a factor. on the test track.
Over the years, our equipment testing has consistently shown that automatic transmission models almost always outperform other manual transmission models. So did this automatic Blackwing, but the gap wasn’t as big as we expected.
In contrast to the clock, the auto off time 4.0 seconds 60 mph; the instruction hangs for almost 4.1 seconds. The auto shoots forward from there, hitting 100 mph in 9.4 seconds versus the manual’s 9.9 seconds. But then the manual begins to close the gap, following the automatic’s second 12.4-quarter mile time of just 0.2 seconds, with both cars traveling at 114 mph. identical hours. At 130 mph, it’s a deadly heat, with both cars taking 17.2 seconds to get there. That could be the result of the car’s additional aerodynamic drag that automatically works against it when the speed is increased to three digits. The difference in gear shifting may also play a part. But the numbers don’t lie: The two gearboxes deliver virtually identical performance.
There isn’t much of a difference in fuel economy. The CT4-V Blackwings automatic gets an EPA rating of 16 mpg in the city/24 mpg on the highway, while the manual is exactly 1 mile/gallon less in both measures. One mile per gallon shouldn’t be a problem when you’re driving a 472-horsepower sedan with a manufacturer-claimed top speed of 189 mph.
Much more important than the auto’s microscopic advantages in 60 mph acceleration or fuel economy is how it drives. Its transmission may have 10 speeds, but you’ll never know how discreetly it overtook them in normal driving. Thankfully, it never lets the engine fall into the lazy, near-idle zone, and it’s ready with instant multi-speed downshifts when you hit the gas even halfway. Quickly release your right foot at any speed and Caddy will explode; Overtaking two lanes or swerving through traffic gaps is easy. When you want to play Lewis Hamilton, switch the transmission to manual mode and the 10-speed will respond quickly to the paddle shifters and shift commands. It can’t match the lightning-quick gearshifts of the best dual-clutch automatic transmissions, but it’s not far off.
In a way, automatically extending this car’s already extended bandwidth. You can get lazy and don’t like shifting at city speeds and during rush hour crawling from one obstacle to another, then enjoy the fun of gear shifting, roof shifting rowing when you want to play the hero on the way back. The CT4-V Blackwing is so complete that it would take a pretty gruesome automaton to change our minds about its high-powered brilliance.
But our step back to the long-term manual transmission quickly reminded us of the reason we worship at the Church of the Holy Stick Shift: the connection between drivers and cars. You feel the vibrations of the engine through the gearshift lever. You have to pay more attention to traffic and anticipate what gear you’ll need next, so you can be more involved in your driving, more engaged and in greater control. And there’s a great sense of mastery when maneuvering the manual transmission skillfully, making smooth, responsive up and down shifts in tune with the revs—without the aid of an electric rev-match. death. You don’t have to go into gear and try to yank the gear lever off the floor; You can enjoy the instruction manual at any speed.
All of this leads to a simple conclusion: We would still prefer the CT4-V Blackwing if it had only come with an automatic transmission. But we prefer it with a guide.
Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing 2023
Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel drive, 5-seat, 4-door sedan
Original/Tested Price: $61,890/$84,715
Optional: Carbon Fiber Package 1 (carbon fiber front splitter, wheel deflector, diving plane, rear spoiler), $6150; Jet Black leather seats with Jet Black accents, $4900; Carbon Fiber Package 2 (carbon fiber seesaw bar extension and back diffuser), $4450; 10-speed automatic transmission, $2275; performance data and video cameras, $1600; Driver Assistance Package (adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking front and rear), $900; Technology package (air ionizer and windshield display), $725; Paint Argent Silver Metallic, $625; 18-inch aluminum wheels with satin graphite finish, $600; Climate package (heated and ventilated front seats with massage, heated steering wheel) $600
DOHC 24-valve twin-turbo and inter-cooled V-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Teleport: 218 in33564cm3
Power: 472 hp @ 5750 rpm
Torque: 445 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
10-speed automatic transmission
Suspension, F/R: strut/multi-link
Brakes, F/R: 15.0 inch ventilated disc / 13.4 inch ventilated disc
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
F: 255/35ZR-18 (94Y) TPC Spec 3164
R: 275/35ZR-18 (99Y) TPC Spec 3165
Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
Length: 187.6 inches
Width: 71.5 inches
Height: 56.0 inches
Passenger weight: 90 ft3
Trunk weight: 11 ft3
Limited weight: 3904 lb
CD TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 4.0 seconds
100 mph: 9.4 seconds
1/4 Mile: 12.4 seconds @ 114 mph
130 mph: 17.2 seconds
The above results are ignored deploy 1 ft of 0.3 seconds.
Start rolling, 5–60 mph: 4.4 seconds
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.2 seconds
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.6 seconds
Top speed (mfr’s claim): 189 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 158 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 303 ft
Keeping track, 300 ft slide: 1.04 g
CD ENERGY SAVING
Observation: 15 mpg
75 mph highway driving: 25 mpg
75 mph highway range: 430 miles
EPA SAVING FUEL
Combined/City/Highway: 16/19/24 mpg
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