Cadillac says the new CT4 lineup fits squarely in the subcompact class and is aimed at the likes of the Audi A3, BMW 2-series, and Mercedes A-Class. I don’t exactly know why Cadillac decided to put the CT4 in the subcompact class because it’s far too big dimensionally to be a subcompact and a little too small to be called a compact.
Sitting at the top of the CT4 lineup is the CT4-V. The CT4-V is the result of Cadillac reimagining the entire V label throughout the product line. Where ATS-V came powered by a 464-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine, the CT4-V features a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Now before you run off to grab your pitchforks and torches, let’s make one thing clear – the CT4-V is damn good, even with a 4-cylinder.
Cadillac CT4-V Exterior
As mentioned before, the Cadillac CT4-V is meant to compete with the likes of the Audi S3, BMW M235i, and Mercedes-Benz AMG A35 in the subcompact sport sedan segment. The CT4-V is actually much larger than the competition with a wheelbase of 109.3″ vs a wheelbase of 103.6″ for the Audi S3. The one size larger Cadillac CT5 sits at a 116″ wheelbase. The CT4-V wheelbase is a carryover from the ATS it replaces.
The CT4-V exterior has bold styling throughout, and the Velocity Red paint is stunning. This car was the center of attention from bystanders on more than one occasion of being out with the car running errands. Front Brembo brakes peek out from behind the 18-inch wheels, which wear Continental SportContact 6 SSR max performance summer tires.
The CT4-V gets exclusive dark exterior accents, V-Series mesh grilles, quad exhaust tips, and a rear spoiler. Overall, the CT4-V is a gorgeous car to look at, though that rear end is up for debate. I do love how much the CT4-V stands out in a crowd of its peers. The CT4-V is an instantly recognizable car in the parking lot.
Cadillac CT4-V Interior
The Cadillac CT-V cabin is a step-up from the ATS that it replaces, and all user controls are easy to reach, easy to read, and very easy to use. High-quality buttons have returned throughout for HVAC and radio controls, as well as a knob in the center console for quick navigation through the infotainment interface. A wireless charging mat sits forward of the shifter. The standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto require devices to plug into the CT4-V’s USB or USB-C ports, rather than being wireless.
The CT4-V steering wheel was comfortable and felt nice in the hands during spirited driving. The wheel features a V-Mode switch that puts the car directly into its highest performance drive mode and traction settings optimized for performance driving.
The entire front cabin makes the car feel much larger than it is, but that illusion vanishes once you enter the rear seat. Most of that extended wheelbase seems to be biased towards the front of the car. The CT4-V rear seats are tight with legroom and narrow. Part of this is due to the RWD platform of the CT4, which cuts into the rear cabin space. RWD is to the detriment of rear passengers but a massive plus for handling.
Cadillac CT4-V Performance & Handling
The Cadillac CT4-V is a product of the reimagined, if not confusing, V performance brand. While the V moniker was previously associated with massive horsepower, forced induction engines, the CT4-V has opted for a more practical method of performance with a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine.
Think of the CT4-V in the same way the Audi S3 and BMW M235i are the mid-range performers saving the respective RS and M cars for the top tier of performance. Expect there to be a much hotter CT4-V Blackwing to compete with the RS and M cars.
The 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine is the same basic engine framework found in the Chevrolet Silverado. Still, the engine works brilliantly in the CT4-V after being massaged by GM powertrain engineers for sport sedan duty. The engine produces 325-horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. Optional all-wheel-drive is available.
What I love about this engine is it pulls hard through the parts of the powerband where you need it most. Off-the-line performance is excellent thanks to the dual-volute turbo, and hammering down on the freeway results in a hard pull to around 5000 rpm where the power starts to fall off. No problem, though, since you have ten gears to work with to stay in that peak power curve. The 10-speed has quick shifts, and the programming is catered more toward performance than fuel economy. The CT4-V powertrain is absolutely fantastic. My biggest complaint is the obnoxious fake sound pumped into the cabin under wide-open throttle.
Equally magnificent is the CT4-V’s chassis tuning and dynamic. Just a few years ago, this statement would be considered heresy, but the CT4-V driving experience puts the competing German models to shame. Not only is the CT4-V more entertaining and engaging to drive than the S3 or BMW 235i, but it’s more fun and engaging to drive than the BMW 330i M Sport as well.
The CT4-V’s 50/50 weight distribution, Magnetic Ride Control shocks, and fantastic suspension tuning means the car enters corners with enthusiasm and rotates willingly with full control throughout the corner. The variable resistance electric power steering provides some of the best feedback I’ve experienced in any sport sedan and gives the driver an idea of precisely what the car is doing at all times. The Brembo brakes engage quickly and firmly with excellent stopping power and feel.
The Germans could use a reminder from GM engineering about building an engaging and exciting sport sedan.
Cadillac CT4-V Final Thoughts
The Cadillac CT4-V is not only a tremendous upgrade over the ATS but also a serious contender against competing subcompact German sport sedans. With sharp styling, a much improved and upscale interior, and excellent driving dynamics, the CT4-V is an exciting vehicle to drive. It’s not perfect, but it’s an excellent stand-out alternative amongst the subcompact sport sedan segment. At just a tick over $52,000 for our extremely well-equipped tester, the CT4-V is a strong value as well. We’d love to have one permanently in our garage.
Cadillac provided Speed:Sport:Life the CT4-V with a full tank of gas for the purpose of review.