New Cadillac CT4 roars into subcompact luxury segment

Posted by Talbot Payne on June 3, 2019

The CT4-V infuses the brand’s racing DNA for a dynamic, responsive and exhilarating driving experience.

The CT4-V infuses the brand’s racing DNA for a dynamic, responsive and exhilarating driving experience. (Photo: Cadillac)

Detroit —The all-new Cadillac CT4 is small but fierce.

General Motors’ luxury brand unveiled its entry-level subcompact sedan Thursday in V-series trim, signaling a revamped sedan strategy powered by familiar V-series muscle.

Ditching its old strategy of “tweener” sedans to fight German competitors by straddling segments, the CT4 is aimed squarely at the entry-level products from BMW (2-series), Audi (A3) and Mercedes (A-class). The CT4 comes just months after the New York Auto Show debut of the CT5 sedan which will compete head-on against the compact BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-class.

Based on the same, athletic Alpha platform as the outgoing Cadillac ATS (and Chevrolet Camaro), the CT4 will likely be powered by a base 2.0-liter turbo-4 as Caddy enters the small sedan segment for the first time.

But first, the CT4 gets V-series muscle.

For the first time in Cadillac’s history, the powerful V-line will be introduced at launch alongside the base car. The CT4 V-series debuted Thursday with a 2.7-liter turbo-4 that puts out 320 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque — with 90 percent of that torque produced at just 1,500 rpms.

“This one is available from day one,” GM president Mark Reuss said the car’s premiere at Eastern Market. “We want to make the V-series more accessible to customers, and they will also be available with rear- or all-wheel drive.”

To complement its athletic bod, the CT4-V will get standard upgrades like magnetic shocks, Brembo brakes (with three color options for the calipers), launch control, 8-inch screen and 18-inch wheels. Though pricing hasn’t been announced for the base CT4 yet, Cadillac says the V-series will come with a $6,000-$7,000 premium.

But wait, there’s more. Reuss said there will be a second, even more powerful V-series available at a later date. “How do you like the Blackwing name?” he asked reporters, referencing the monster, twin-turbo V-8 engine that is exclusive to the CT6-V.

Significantly, too, the CT4-V gets brains to go with its brawn.

Taking a page from the flagship CT6 sedan, it will option Cadillac’s industry-leading, self-driving Super Cruise feature. Super Cruise’s introduction into an entry-level vehicle suggests that Caddy is determined to accelerate the technology into all segments to compete against Silicon Valley’s Tesla. And, like Tesla, the CT4 will improve over time with over-the-air updates.

The CT5 also benefits from Caddy’s new, accelerated V-series strategy (including the Super Cruise option). Its V-option will be powered by a 355-horse, twin-turbo V-6.

The CT4’s proportions are similar to the old compact ATS, and will therefore be large for the subcompact, luxury segment.

Expect the CT5 price to start at around $40,000 when its hits dealer lots late this year, while the CT4’s price should come in around $33,000 when it debuts in early 2020.

The large Cadillac CT6 sedan remains the brand’s flagship even as its future is uncertain after its Hamtramck manufacturing plant closes next January.

The timing of the new V-series cars with the Detroit Grand Prix this weekend was no coincidence. Cadillac’s  DPi-V.R prototype is the dominant car in IMSA sports-car racing and the brand wants to emphasize that as it revamps its lineup to take on the Nurburgring-tested Germans.

“We have a strong racing technology transfer to production story to tell,” said Ken Morris, Cadillac VP for global product. “It’s what makes Cadillac a Cadillac.”

Cadillac’s performance-oriented sedan strategy comes as the brand has refocused on becoming a full-line SUV maker with the XT4, XT5, and XT6 crossovers to complement the truck-based Escalade.

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