The $54,000 Cadillac CT4-V is another noble effort at an American luxury sport sedan, but it falls short

by insider@insider.com (Matthew DeBord) | Business Insider

Cadillac XT4-V
Cadillac XT4-V

Matthew DeBord/Insider

  • I tested a $54,260 Cadillac CT4-V, a high-performance version of Caddy’s smallest sedan.
  • My car had a 325-horsepower, 2.7-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive.
  • The Cadillac V-Series is supposed to take on driver’s cars from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.
  • Sadly, the CT4-V’s less-than-compelling motor soured me on the sedan, although once I got it up to speed, it was fun to drive.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For as long as I’ve been writing about cars, American automakers have been trying to create a viable sport sedan. The thing is, they’ve succeeded. I’ve driven at least three US-badged four-doors that could credibly challenge the Germans. (I’m not even counting the Tesla Model S and Model 3 here, by the way.)

Those cars are the Cadillac CTS-V, the Chevy SS, and Buick Regal GS.

Of course, wouldn’t you know it — all three have been replaced or discontinued!

That leaves us with GM and Cadillac’s latest crack at challenging Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi: a new crop of V-designated Caddy four-doors. Those are the CT6-V, the CT5-V, and the CT4-V.

The CT4-V is the little guy in this lineup, and I got to spend a week with it a while back. As a successor to the ATS-V, it’s an almost immediate come-down, with a less powerful motor. But does it have some redeeming virtues?

Read on to find out:

The Cadillac CT4-V takes over compact sport sedan duties from the outgoing ATS-V in the wreath-and-crest lineup. We should consider ourselves lucky that, in an SUV-mad world, Caddy still wants to sell a sporty four-door sedan.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Cadillac

My 2020 Cadillac CT4-V tester wore a “Shadow Metallic” paint job and started at $44,495, but more than $8,000 in options and a destination charge took the price to $54,260.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The CT4-V is relatively svelte of stance, with a narrow rear end and a fastback design.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The slim LED headlights are echoed by the equally slender, curving tail lights, hugging the rear fender and suggesting inverted fins, an evocation of Caddy’s past.

Cadillac CT4-V
Cadillac CT4-V

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The trunk has a modest spoiler, part of an aero package.

Cadillac CT4-V
Cadillac CT4-V

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Chromed, quad pipes are a nice touch. But as we’ll see, a bit of a bait-and-switch.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The 18-inch satin alloy wheels were an affordable $600 extra. I thought they looked exceptionally sharp and would flip for them in a second.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Cargo space in the truck adds up to about 11 cubic feet, which is rather skimpy, but good enough for toting a few day’s worth of groceries.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Get ready to be depressed!

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

That’s a 2.7-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 325 horsepower with 380 pound-feet of torque. The ATS-V rocked a 464-horsepower V6.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The power, or lack of it, is sent through a ten-speed automatic transmission.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

I like Caddy interiors, and although the CT4-V’s is obviously small, the “Jet Black” layout didn’t come off as cheap. I won’t say it exuded luxury, however.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

In fact, it felt both snug enough for spirited driving and open and roomy enough for passenger comfort.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The paddle shifters on the steering wheel, to tap into manual mode, did not find much use, in my testing. The CT4-V had multiple drive modes, with Sport and Track being the options I used most.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The instrument cluster is refreshingly simple. There’s also a head-up display.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

A small control panel manages some vehicle functions, such as the auto stop-start and the drive modes.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The orange piping on the well-engineered seats add some sporty jazz to the interior.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The back seats were snug. Fully-grown adults aren’t going to like it back there for anything longer than brief trips.

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

GM and Caddy have their tech game together. There’s wireless charging …

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

… And the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment setup is almost peerless, with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to fall back on. Bluetooth pairing is a breeze, there are USB ports, 4G-LTE WiFi, GPS navigation, SiriusXM radio, and a premium Bose audio system (a reasonable upgrade, with the navigation, at $800).

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

So what’s the verdict?

Cadillac CT4-V.
Cadillac CT4-V.

Cadillac

For just over $54,000, my tester was actually rather loaded, with everything from heated front seats to an air-purification system to advanced cruise control and a suite of driver-assist features. 

In terms of the putative “V” stuff … well, there was some of that, too: front aerodynamics, a limited-slip rear differential, some snazzy blue brake calipers, all-wheel-drive.

But. But. But. I just couldn’t get over the wimpy motor. At startup, it sounded sad. At idle, unimpressive, even sort of crude.

OK. OK. Maybe the 325 horsepower four, with more torque, would provide some pop. Nope. The 0-60 mph is supposed to happen in five seconds, but for me, it felt slower. In fact, it wasn’t until I got the CT4-V moving on the highway that it even started to hint at its performance cred. The steering, for instance, was quick and precise. And the car came off as light in my hands. I tossed it a bit. Which was kinda fun. But only kinda. I wanted more oomph coming out of corners.

So I just couldn’t get into the CT4-V much at all. Except from the point of view of a shopper who could check out the sticker and conclude that the car is pretty tricked out for less than $60,000. I myself might draw this conclusion, and the fuel-economy numbers — 20 mpg city/28 highway/23 combines — would bolster the case.

In the end, the CT4-V simply isn’t a “real” V car. Taking away the ATS-V’s six-banger was a dagger to the heart. The idea of a small, quick sedan survives. But survival isn’t what I want from a Caddy with enthusiast pretenses. 

Yes, I’m being hard on the car, which is moderately thrilling under some circumstances and otherwise a stylish daily driver with a superb technology package. Really, I should be grateful, given that Cadillac is selling a lot more SUVs and could plausibly ditch sedans altogether.

Well, I guess I am grateful. But gratitude wouldn’t make me look forward to driving this Caddy.

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