The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V is an all-new model from GM and it replaces the old ATS. It competes against the likes of the BMW M235i GranCoupe & Mercedes A35 AMG Sedan. So how does this new CT4-V stack up against the Germans?
Engine – The Cadillac CT4-V replaces the old ATS-V but while that one had a twin-turbocharged V6, this one has to make due with a turbocharged 4-cylinder. However, it’s a pretty big 4-cylinder engine as it displaces 2.7L and produces 325 hp & 380 lb-ft of torque (242 kW & 515 Nm). Compared to the A35 AMG & M235i GranCoupe, the CT4-V has significantly more power. But because the car weighs 1,640 kg (3,616 lbs), the 0-100 km/h sprint will see it come in last place among the three. It won’t be by much – less than half a second – but it is slower than the German rivals. Car and Driver tested all three with the BMW reaching 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.2 seconds, the A35 in 4.3 seconds, and the CT4-V in 4.5 seconds.
But as for this engine, it has plenty of oomph throughout the rpm range. It utilizes a twin-volute turbocharger which keeps the exhaust gasses separate – much like a twin-scroll turbo – right up until it reaches the turbo turbine. But the difference is that unlike a twin-scroll turbo, this twin-volute design feeds the exhaust from opposite sides of the turbine resulting in more energy to the turbo and less lag. This system works as there is minimal lag at mid and high rpms but the acceleration starts diminish past 5,500 rpms where the peak power is. That’s ok though because the redline is at 6,000 rpms anyway so you’ll have to upshift by then.
Despite the engine being as big as some V6 engines of the 1980’s & 90’s, fuel economy is not too bad. It is rated at 11.5 L/100km (20.5 MPG) in a city and 8.2 L/100km (28.7 MPG) on a highway. However, it does require premium fuel.
Transmission – Swapping cogs is a 10-speed automatic. In the Tour drive mode, the transmission shifts are on the slow side but they are smooth. Switch to Sport or Track mode and the shifts between gears become predictably faster with earlier downshifts as your brake for a corner. You can also take over control by using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and they do react quickly enough to driver inputs.
Braking – The CT4-V receives Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers on the front axle. Just like the Brembo brakes of its CT5-V bigger brother, these brakes provide a lot of stopping force. They can also feel a bit too sensitive to some as it takes very little effort to stop in everyday city traffic. But when driving through a canyon road or on a race track, the firm brake pedal gives you the confidence to brake late for a corner. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection is standard.
Handling – Although the 2020 Cadillac CT4-V tips the scales at over 1,600 kg, it sheds that weight when it goes around corners. The chassis feels lighter than it actually is and the car is quite agile through bends. Steering response is very quick and direct in the Track mode with an almost perfect amount of weight behind it. In Tour mode, it’s a bit too light for driving enjoyment but great for city maneuverability. The CT4-V is available as standard with rear-wheel-drive or for about $600 CAD, it can be had with AWD as this demo came equipped. Unlike it’s German rivals which are front-wheel-drive based, the CT4-V is a lot more fun around corners.
You can also adjust how much slip you want the wheels to have thanks to the clever traction and stability control management program. Getting into that special program is just as challenging as it is in the CT5-V. First, the car has to be in Track mode. Then you have to double tap the stability control button in a specific succession. It takes a few tries but once you’re in, you can select from a range of active handling characteristics that range from Wet to Race. The launch control system also engages when any of these modes are selected.
Ride Comfort – The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V is available with magnetic dampers like it’s CT5-V big brother. However, these dampers are only available on the RWD version of the car. The AWD version has to make due with just “regular” dampers. But the ride is not too bad even without the magnetic dampers. It is a bit firmer than the softest setting in the CT5-V however, it’s not so firm that it’ll shake your teeth out.
The front seats also add to the comfort with really good support and a massaging feature. It’s not as sophisticated as the massaging feature that you’d find on a 6-figure luxury car but it makes good use of the 4-way adjustable lumbar support to gently massage your lower back.
Interior Space – Overall the 2020 Cadillac CT4-V is a larger vehicle than its BMW & Mercedes rivals. But it’s a case of excess girth as the interior has a bit less space than its rivals. Yes, front occupants have plenty of space. At 6’4”, I comfortably fit in the front seat without my knees hitting the dashboard or my hair brushing up against the headliner. But sitting behind my driving position is a challenge. My knees dig hard into the front seat-back and my head is at a bit of an angle as it rests against the headliner. Trunk space is also miniscule at just 303 L (10.7 cu-ft), over 100 L (3.5 cu-ft) less than what the BMW 235i GranCoupe & Mercedes A35 AMG Sedan offer.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – While this CT4 has a V badge and is a more sporty version of the regular CT4 model, it doesn’t sound particularly sporty. The exhaust has a muted tone and just sounds like a vacuum cleaner. One positive though is that closer to the redline under full throttle applications, you can hear pops between shifts. Apart from that, the exhaust sounds underwhelming when compared to its CT5-V brother or its German rivals.
Exhaust note aside, the cabin is fairly well insulated from outside noises. On city streets, the engine noises are well subdued thanks in part to the short shifts of the 10-speed auto while on highways, it’s mainly tire noise that is the most prominent noise. However, it’s not so loud that you need to yell in order for the passengers to hear you.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V has a lot of the latest tech features but when it comes to safety, automatic emergency braking is the only advanced feature that is standard. Every other feature like blind spot sensors, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and so on, are optional extras.
Standard features on the CT4-V include heated seats & heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto compatibility, NFC device pairing, automatic climate control, remote start, WiFi hotspot, 8-inch touchscreen. You can further add ventilated front seats, a head-up display, navigation, & front park assist. Also, Super Cruise will be available on the CT4-V starting with the 2021 model year.
Interior Design – The CT4-V takes a lot of its interior looks from the CT5-V. The biggest difference is that the CT4-V has a smaller infotainment touchscreen at 8-inches vs. 10-inches for the CT5-V. The design of the dashboard and instrument cluster is nearly identical to that of its bigger brother. As well, it has the same problem as its bigger brother which is the rock solid armrests. I swear they’re made out of granite. Ok maybe not, but the center console and door panel armrests have barely any give in them and after 10 or 15 minutes, your elbows will start to hurt or just go numb altogether.
Exterior Design – The CT4-V retains a lot of Cadillac’s design cues. These include the shield grille, the vertical daytime running lights and tail lights. The overall shape is very much a traditional sedan with a normal looking trunk unlike the CT5-V’s sportback design. Overall it looks like a traditional American sedan if a bit understated and subtle. It doesn’t shout to the world that it has a 325 hp engine under the hood like the Mercedes A35.
The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V starts at $45,973 CAD ($44,995 USD) with AWD. Take off almost $600 CAD for the RWD version. As tested, the CT4-V costs just under $53,000 CAD ($52,000 USD). Compared to the Mercedes A35 sedan & BMW M235i GranCoupe, the CT4-V’s starting price is about $5,000 CAD less. Although you’re not getting quite the same performance as the others, this car has a true RWD based platform so it can be a lot more fun around a race track. But for me personally, I’d still take the A35 AMG because I prefer the looks of it over the CT4-V as well the engine in the A35 has more character than the 2.7L in this Cadillac. However, if you don’t want to pay the extra money for the Mercedes, don’t feel bad because the Cadillac CT4-V is still a great car.
Thank you to Cadillac Canada for providing the vehicle. www.CadillacCanada.ca