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A Brief History of Cadillac's Quest for High Performance

history of cadillac v
A Brief History of Cadillac's High Performance VCar and Driver

What is a Blackwing? It's an identifier for birds, expensive pencils, the V-8 engine that powered the CT6 and CT6-V, and now a pair of Cadillac performance sedans. In its automotive uses, the name was inspired by the black merlettes (mythical birds without feet) on the original Cadillac crest. Today, Cadillac says the Blackwing name denotes "the very highest standard of execution." Don't think the run-of-the-mill V badge is for poseurs, though. While the CT4-V and CT5-V may lack the oomph of their Blackwing-badged kin, they're still surprisingly powerful performance sedans. And then there's the Escalade-V and its exhaust note that sounds right out of a NASCAR.

1997 Cadillac Catera

The first rear-drive compact Caddy was heavy and slow, and back in 2000, we said that “during 90 of 100 handling maneuvers, the Catera reacts remarkably like a front-drive car.”

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Cadillac

2004 Cadillac CTS-V

Based on the all-new 2003 CTS, the first V was powered by the Corvette Z06’s 400-hp lS6 V-8. it came only with a manual transmission and seriously closed the gap with the established German competitors. The CTS-V was tuned on Germany's treacherous Nürburgring racetrack.

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Cadillac

2006 Cadillac XLR-V

The XLR remains the only Cadillac to be built on a Corvette platform, and the XLR-V model used a Northstar 443-hp supercharged V-8.

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Cadillac

2006 Cadillac STS-V

The CTS’s larger sibling had a 469-hp version of the blown Northstar, making it the most powerful Cadillac for a time. The STS-V used large Brembo brakes from the CTS-V.

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Cadillac

2009 Cadillac CTS-V

Available first as a sedan and two years later as a coupe or a wagon, too, the second-gen CTS-V had a 556-hp supercharged V-8 underhood and was a four-time 10Best winner. it also blitzed the Nürburgring in under eight minutes, nabbing the then record for factory sedans.

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Cadillac

2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport

We loved the first not-quite-a-V and its 420-hp twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6, naming the car to our 10Best list three years straight. The Impala-based 2014 XTS Vsport with a 410-hp version of this powertrain was far less endearing. Our last test of the rechristened CTS V-Sport resulted in a 4.5-second zero-to-60-mph time.

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Cadillac

2016 Cadillac CTS-V

Cadillac ever so slightly tempered our enthusiasm for a 640-hp, 200-mph sedan by building the third-gen CTS-V with only an automatic transmission.

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Cadillac

2016 Cadillac ATS-V

The ATS featured two V firsts: fewer than eight cylinders and turbocharging. Available as a sedan or a coupe, the knife-edged ATS-V had a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 making 464 horsepower.

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2015 cadillac atsv
Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

2019 Cadillac CT6-V

Cadillac’s large sedan received the V treatment with the all-new Blackwing 550-hp twin-turbo V-8, but production ended almost as soon as it began.

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Cadillac

2020 Cadillac CT4-V/CT5-V

The ATS and CTS were renamed CT4 and CT5, and the Vsport subbrand became known as V.

MORE ABOUT THE CT4-V AND CT5-V

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Cadillac

2022 Cadillac CT4-V/CT5-V Blackwing

The last of the gasoline Vs, the 472-hp twin-turbo CT4-V Blackwing and 668-hp supercharged CT5-V Blackwing are easy to fall in love with. Shortly after their debut, each earned our coveted 10Best award. They mark an incredible end to an era of Cadillac's gas-powered V.

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2022 cadillac ct4v blackwing and ct5v blackwing
John Roe - Car and Driver

2023 Cadillac Escalade-V

Cadillac finally gives the Escalade the "V" treatment. The result is a full-size SUV capable of launching to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. Credit its 682-hp supercharged V-8 heart. Though distinguishing between the styling differences between the run-of-the-mill Escalade and the Escalade-V requires a keen eye, the aural difference is profound: the Escalade-V barks with the ferocity of an angry K-9 officer and rumbles like a magnitude 8.0 earthquake.

MORE ABOUT THE ESCALADE-V

2023 cadillac escaladev
Cadillac

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